What I Think I Learned From My First Half Marathon – Part 3 of 3

Here is the final part of my reflection on training, racing, and post race from my first half marathon, The New Jersey Half Marathon in Long Branch. I’ve really enjoyed some of the feedback I’ve received and hopefully this can inspire or help someone at some point with their running. I am more than happy to answer any questions you have. As I always say, if I don’t have the answer I know a lot of great runners who I can reach out to that will gladly help. Over the summer, I will continue to work on my half marathon training and run in some local races of different shorter distances. I’m hopeful that I will continue to improve and get ready for two half marathons this fall. I’m signed up to run the Halloween Half Marathon in Morristown on Saturday, October 21st and I’m planning on signing up for the Newport Liberty Half Marathon on Sunday, September 17th. Let me know if you want to join me at either race.

Post Race – What I Did Well

  • First and foremost, I was able to spot my family right away as I crossed the finish line. I was able to celebrate and share this great accomplishment with them. As a runner, you put in a lot of time training for these long distance events. I was fully aware throughout my training how my wife and kids are part of that process too. I felt so much of this victory was theirs as much as it was mine. Many say running is an individual sport but to that individual with a family, it’s a team sport.
  • I successfully made sure I grabbed my medal and then immediately found water. I knew I had to get fluids in me. I grabbed two and stood right there and chugged the first bottle. I started on the second one while catching my breath. I made sure I grabbed a banana and a mylar blanket. I never have used a mylar blanket and was shocked at how well it worked. It kept me nice and warm, just what I needed since I was so drenched in sweat. As I walked to the exit, I saw Gatorade and quickly snatched one of them up, as well as a snack box, and a towel. The race did a great job with what was available immediately after the finish line for the runners. Don’t I look like I was hit by a truck in that post race photo? Remind me to smile next time.
  • Due to horrible communication from the race team regarding parking, my wife and kids ended up having to park a couple miles away from the finish. A nice police officer allowed them to park in a restaurants parking lot. We had purchased the finish line parking and on it, it said you take certain directions to get to the lot. Well unless you did this prior to 7:30, you couldn’t get there. It would have been nice to know that. OK, how does this tie in to what went well, it forced me to walk a couple of miles after the race. I think it helped my legs recover and not tighten up so much. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have done it, if it wasn’t for parking so far away.
  • I checked a bag with a full set of new clothes to change into and I’m super glad I did. I was drenched and to put on a dry shirt, pants, and underwear was refreshing. I also was able to slip on my oofos, which felt great on my feet.
  • Something that wasn’t planned but I did well was help an older runner that was walking to the shuttle. He stepped up on to the curb and both his legs started cramping. He fell to the ground, yelling in pain. No one in his family knew what to do. Thankfully, I’ve been around enough athletes and trainers to see what needs to be done when a person is cramping like that. I took his one leg and started stretching it out while showing a family member how to do the other. He seemed very dehydrated and honestly, was probably in need of an IV due to his age. A police officer made his way over and at that point I was relieved and left. Hopefully, he was ok.
  • It was nice to go back to the hotel and take a shower before driving home.
  • I wore my medal all day long, including the drive up the Garden State Parkway. It’s my thing. I wear any medal I receive all day. I’m proud.
  • I made sure to enjoy a couple of beers and a nice dinner. Something about a nice cold beer after completing a goal.
  • I made sure I thanked everyone that sent me congratulations on finishing the half marathon.
  • I bought the photos of me from this race. Normally, I’d be like nah but since this was my first half marathon, I wanted to buy them, especially so I had the photos from the finish. This half marathon will always hold a special place.
  • I ended up taking two days off from running to allow my body time to rest. I went for a recovery run Wednesday to help loosen up my muscles. It was weird to take two days off but I think it was best for my body at that point. I kept telling myself it was the smart thing to do and honestly, it was earned.

Post Race – Where I Can Improve

  • I did well hydrating post race but I really didn’t eat much. I had about half a banana. I just didn’t feel well to eat anything else, so I didn’t. I think I should in the future.
  • I didn’t stretch after the race. Actually, I didn’t stretch until Wednesday. That can’t happen again. I was sore on Monday but not that bad. I still know I need to stretch after a long race distance like that.
  • Have a better plan for after a half marathon. Honestly, I never thought about what I was going to do running wise after completing my first half marathon. During training, I looked at my schedule and knew what I was running weeks ahead. I had a few training races to look forward to. Goals set. All of the sudden, I woke up on Monday morning and after months of scheduled running, I had nothing. I felt a bit lost. I knew I needed the rest, but kept thinking to myself, this is so weird. What’s next. It’s all over. I did it, now what. I kind of wish I had set a plan up, even for the following couple weeks or month after the race. Have something to look forward to and keep me honest with training. Thankfully, I started right where I left off with running, but I could see this being an issue if I let myself push off running, you know, for tomorrow.
  • For the first day or two after the half marathon, I was a little hard on myself when people would ask how it went. I’d tell them my time and people would give me a great response, but I found myself saying things like eh I should’ve done better. It took a fellow running friend to tell me to not be so hard on myself. It was one of those moments that hits you right in the face. I thought to myself, she is totally right. What you did isn’t easy. You put a lot of work into it and be proud, damn proud of what you accomplished. I know I can be hard on myself with goals. It’s just how I’ve always gone after success. I expect the best out of myself. The funny thing is, I am always the guy or teammate encouraging others with positive talks. I try to be motivating. I realized I need to do that to myself. No matter what, I want to make sure this stays fun. I’m still going to have goals, celebrate them when I beat them, but when I don’t be happy with what I’ve done and start working towards the next.
  • I probably should of had another beer or two to celebrate :o)

What do you do the week following a half marathon?
What races are you signed up for?

I hope you enjoyed reading this three part post. I’d love to hear your feedback. Please share it with me.

What I Think I Learned From My First Half Marathon – Part 2 of 3

Here is the second part of what I think I learned from my first half marathon, The New Jersey Half Marathon in Long Branch. You can read Part 1 here, which focused on my training. Part 2 focuses on the race. I share what I think I did well and where I can improve upon.

I’m using this reflection to help myself improve for my next half marathon. Currently, I’m signed up to run the Halloween Half Marathon in Morristown on Saturday, October 21st. I’m 99% sure I’m going to sign up to run the Newport Liberty Half Marathon on Sunday, September 17th. Again, let me know if you are running either race.

Race Day – What I Did Well

  • Heading into the weekend, I felt great. I knew I trained hard and was both mentally and physically as ready as I could be at this point. I definitely felt confident heading down to Long Branch and prior to the start. I tapered correctly and stuck to my plan. I felt great all race week and felt my legs were ready to pound out 13.1 miles.
  • I really didn’t look at the weather report that much. I decided to go with the attitude of it will be what it will be and don’t stress out over. I knew I had to look at it though just so I packed correctly and wore the right gear. I was looking forward to nice weather, but figured if it rained, don’t let that bother you.
  • I woke up exactly when I set my alarm, 5:00 am. I didn’t turn over or lay there at all. I got up exactly when I planned to. I ate early and got ready without having to rush. I was out of the hotel exactly when I wanted to be and arrived at the starting area with plenty of time.
  • I was able to take my time prior to the start. I used The Travel Stick at my car to roll out my legs. Made the walk over to the starting area, walked around for a bit while hydrating. Got in line for the bathroom, knowing it could be awhile. Everything was going well pre-race.
  • I stretched plenty and was able to jog around for awhile to loosen up my legs without being in a rush. I made my way over to my corral and was able to find a good spot for the start before it got really crowded.
  • I was amped up but I don’t feel I shot out of the gate too fast. I worry about this during races but with the amount of runners all around the same pace, it helped keep me in check. I felt I was able to ease into it during the first mile.
  • I was able to really take in the sites and crowds while running with a smile on my face. I made sure to read as many of the signs as I could and thank as many volunteers as I saw. I kept my music lower than normal so I could hear what others were saying and chime in with other runners.
  • I felt like I ran a very good first half of the race. I felt great and my pace was in line with what I was training at. My legs were there, my mind was positive, and I was enjoying myself while pushing myself at the same time. Things were going great.
  • I made it a point to get water at most aid stations. I knew this had been an issue while training but I tried my best to hydrate during the race. My effort was there.
  • As with most races, negative thoughts would creep into my mind. I think I did a great job fending them off with positive ones. Even when it seemed my legs weren’t there and my stomach wasn’t right, I kept telling myself to keep going. Only x amount of miles to go. You’ve trained for this and got it. It definitely kept me going and is a huge reason I pushed through for a good finish.
  • The New Jersey Half Marathon is a flat course. There are a couple of inclines, especially over the bridges, and I made sure to hit those and keep my pace in place. I knew there weren’t many at all and they were short and quick so I knew it wouldn’t ware me out.
  • I pushed harder when I hit the boardwalk, knowing it was getting down to the end of the race. I kicked it up a notch, it just wasn’t the extra kick that I had during training. Again, I can’t be mad at myself when I’m putting in the effort but the body just isn’t having it that day. Some days you’re on and some days you’re off.
  • Normally when I finish a race I push as hard as I can until I pass the finish line and won’t make any gestures for the camera. Realizing this was my first half marathon, I decided pre-race, no matter how it goes, that I would cross the finish line with one finger raised. I figured this would probably be the one race I purchased photos from and I wanted to make sure I noted it was my first.

Race Day – Where I Can Improve

  • Hydration, hydration, hydration! Hydration is the biggest area I really need to improve on. I felt I hydrated properly prior to the race but I definitely suffered from dehydration when I hit about the final 1/3 of the race. It definitely had a big effect on me. I even noticed that I started to sweat a lot within the first half mile of the race. That seemed a bit odd at the time and I think I should’ve realized that I was going to have issues and I should’ve probably made sure I grabbed two cups at each aid station instead of one. I know I sweat a lot but normally it doesn’t come on so fast. It wasn’t a hot day either. I’m not sure if it was just nerves or being amped up that did it or what. I did try drinking as much as I could at the aid stations but it just wasn’t enough. I’ve decided that I think I’m going to run with a throw away bottle with Gatorade in it for my next half marathon. Currently, I’m using a Gatorade squirt bottle and drinking from it has gone well while running. With cups, I feel like I gulp too much air and end up coughing from it. Or I wear half of it was it’s bouncing around. I also recently purchased Bottle Bands and I have loved using them while on my long runs. They help so much with carrying a water bottle and they are extremely cheap. For races I know my wife and kids will be somewhere along the route, I think I’ll have them give me a second bottle to use for the remainder of the race. I really think this plan will work. We shall see but I’m going to do my best to not fall into this situation again.
  • This was the first race I traveled for and stayed over night at a hotel. Due to this, it was my first pre-race dinner that I didn’t cook at home. I think what I ate didn’t sit well with me at all. My stomach was off during the race. It was poor planning on my part. We didn’t decide where we were going to eat until about a half hour before dinner. We also tried picking a place that was good for the kids. I need to plan better. My next half marathons are local, so I won’t be traveling for them. We’ll see how much of a difference that will make.
  • I didn’t end up having my Gu during the race. I had it on me but due to my stomach being upset, I opted not to take it. I had used them on my long runs so I trained with them. I probably should have used it but didn’t.
  • I felt like I had too many negative thoughts running through my mind when my legs weren’t responding. I wasn’t thrilled about it. I kept adding in positive thoughts as you read above but I felt like I there were too many negative thoughts during this race.
  • I was definitely a little hard on myself when I crossed the finish line. I should’ve been happier. I finished in 1:58:00 and when  I first started training I would’ve been ecstatic with the result. However, while I was training I ended up getting it in my mind that I was going to run sub 1:55. As the days went by, I definitely was more and more proud of myself but my initial reaction wasn’t as good as it should’ve been. I realized running a sub 2 hour half is a great accomplishment and for me to do it in my first one, I should have been doing jumping jacks. It’s definitely helped me adjust my thoughts and made me realize I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. It’s a promise I’m making to myself for the next half.
  • I like to try and congratulate runners that I use to help me pace myself. Unfortunately, when I hit the finish line, I lost track of one runner that I was back and forth with throughout the race. I would’ve loved to have told her she ran an awesome race and thanks for helping me out.
  • I ran this race without driving the course. I almost always will drive a course so I can see what to expect. I didn’t have a chance with this one. I think it would’ve helped if I did, just having the peace-of-mind of knowing what was ahead or around each corner.
  • I know some runners hate other runners that run with music but I like to listen to music while I run. I’m always aware of my surroundings, so it in no way affects myself or other runners. I also don’t blast it where I can’t hear those around me. Apparently though, my playlist wasn’t long enough because I started it too early and the music stopped on the boardwalk. Instead of trying to get my iPod out of my FlipBelt, I just decided to run the rest without music. I feel like music pushes me and I need to make sure I add a few more songs to the mix.

Where do you think you can improve on in during races?
What are you most proud of that you do well during races?

Stop back for the last part of this post and let me know how your training is going.

What I Think I Learned From My First Half Marathon – Part 1 of 3

I’ve had time to reflect on my first half marathon, The New Jersey Half Marathon in Long Branch, that I ran a little less than three weeks ago. I’ve been able to think about my training, week leading into the race, race day, and the days after the race. What I enjoyed, can improve upon, and what didn’t go right. I’m going to break this up into three separate blog posts. One for training, one for race day, and one for post race.

I’m hopeful that I will continue to improve and can take what I’ve learned and help me at my next half marathon. Currently, I’m signed up to run the Halloween Half Marathon in Morristown on Saturday, October 21st. I’m 99% sure I’m going to sign up to run the Newport Liberty Half Marathon on Sunday, September 17th. Let me know if you want to join me at either race.

Training – What I Did Well

  • I was proud of the long runs I accomplished throughout training. Going into this, I was used to running anywhere between 3-6 miles and would do it for 3-4 days a week.
  • I started my training at  the beginning of the new year, so I knew I had extra time to get more long runs in. I think this was a tremendous help.
  • Each week, I increased my long run by one mile. I started at 7, worked up to 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. My longest run ended up being around 12 1/2 miles but that was just due to the course I ran. I thought I was only going for 12 and I ended up running down a road I didn’t map out originally. I was able to work through these long runs more than once and eventually had 7 – 8 mile runs in the middle of the week.
  • I upped the number of days I ran during my training as my body adjusted. I started with 4 days and worked up to 5 days with a cross training day and one rest day per week.
  • I was able to run a few races as part of my training. I ran a 4-miler, 5K, and 10 miler. I thought this was very important as it showed I had an extra gear and also reminded me of what it was like to race with others. All of my training runs are solely, so you sometimes forget what it is like to have other runners around you for pacing or motivation.
  • I learned the importance of running at different paces and that it’s a good thing. Prior to this, I just would run. I know the benefits of a recovery run, race pace run, etc.
  • I was very fortune that it was warm for most days this winter in NJ. We also only had a few snowstorms. This helped me get outside to run more than I’m sure I would’ve in past years. I think this was a huge benefit.
  • I learned the importance of having multiple pairs of running sneakers and to rotate what you wear. Sneakers need recovery time too.
  • Keep enjoying my training runs. For the most part, I really enjoyed training. I think changing up my routes and distances help keep training interesting. I was able to explore areas of my neighborhood I didn’t really ever go around. There are plenty of other parts of town I can run that I haven’t really been around.

Training – Where I Can Improve

  • As you’ll read in my next blog post, I need to work on hydrating while running. This caught up to me on race day. This is seriously probably my biggest improvement area. I’ve already started working on it and I think my best course of action is to run with a bottle and switch it out at some point during the race with a new one if my wife is at the race. I’ve also ordered two Bottle Bands and will see if they work.
  • I need to do speed work. I really did not do any of this. I don’t know if it’s because I dreaded reading about it or that I was more worried about just creating a base to finish 13.1 miles. At first, I wasn’t concerned about my time and it was all about finishing without walking. I think this lead to me to not do speed work. I know it’s important and I need to add it in to my training. I need to do more interval runs, Fartlek runs, etc.
  • Core. I barely worked on my core at all. The core is so important for running. I’m holding myself to working on my core at least 3 days a week. Good thing is, I’ve already started this.
  • Sleep. I need to get in a habit of going to bed earlier and waking up earlier to train. For this past half, I think I was going to bed too late and I was doing most of my training runs during my lunch hour or at the end of the work day. I need to train more earlier in the morning as most of these races are first thing in the morning. Also, I need to get more hours of sleep, especially the closer I get to race day.
  • Stretching. I didn’t stretch much when I first started training but I added it in and I need to continue it. I need to do more stretching post run too. I skip this way too much.
  • Weight Training. I wasn’t lifting at all in the begging but added it in to my routine about half way through. I need to continue with it. I don’t know if I need to do this or not, but I’m going to. I need to look at my watch less on some of my runs and just enjoy it.
  • Try out new running gear to see what is best for me.
  • Try out more fueling options.
  • Read more blogs to see what other runners like to do. Continue to learn and educate myself.

Where do you think you can improve on in training?
What part of your training routine do you do very well?

Stop back for the last two parts of this post and let me know how your training is going.

C-WC Run for Education 5K Recap

I ran my first race, the Caldwell-West Caldwell Run for Education 5K, since The New Jersey Half Marathon this past weekend. It was the perfect race  to help me rebound from the half marathon and get back into a few months of shorter races.

The Caldwell-West Caldwell Run for Education 5K starts at James Caldwell High School which is right up the road from my house. If you could ever have a “home” course for a race, this is it for me. I run parts or all of this route on most of my training runs. I feel like I know it inside and out and could do it with my eyes close. I think it is a good thing but a bad thing as well. With knowing where the tough areas are, I think it can mess with you mentally. However, knowing that exact thing can help you. I knew once I hit a certain point, it would be a fast course back to the finish.

I ran this race two years ago. This was the third year for it. Two years ago, it was and still is the fastest 5K I have run. I finished in 24:46 for a pace of 7:59. It’s the only race I’ve broken 8 minutes so far. Going into the race, I realized this would probably be the first repeat race I’ve run where I wouldn’t be beating all of the previous results. I was OK with it as long as I ran the best I could. When I ran that race in 2015, I was focusing on 5Ks. Having just come off of training for the half marathon, I was training more for that and not the speed for a 5K.

The last 5K I ran was in March and I ran it at an 8:20 pace. I thought I had an outside shot of a PR but I knew this race was a lot tougher due to it being half uphill.

I decided the night before I was just going to attack it as fast as I could out of the gate. If I ran out of gas, so be it. I figured it was time to test out a new strategy and I was just going to have fun no matter what. Knowing I was running in this race with other friends also made it more enjoyable and the perfect first race after the half marathon.

I attacked the first mile which was all uphill. I ended up running about a minute or so more than I normally run it while training. I was happy and knew it could be a good run but I still had to get through two hills on mile 2. Oddly, my mouth went dry within the first 1/4 mile. I had hydrated plenty, I don’t know if it was nerves or something, just odd. It ended up going away though.

I hit Grover Cleveland Park and caught my breath but kept my pace going. I identified a few runners ahead of me that were keeping a great pace and stayed with them. A couple of runners passed me in the park but I knew with the two hills coming up, it wasn’t a big deal I wasn’t running any slower.

I battled through the two hills and picked it up. I’ve noticed that I have been pretty strong on hills during races as that is where I pass runners. I don’t really pass many runners on flat areas, but hills I do.

Finally, I hit the return downhill. I knew this was the time to kick it in high gear and just go. Let the course help me. I was totally breathing heavy so I knew I was pushing it. My legs felt good and I was trying not to look at my watch too much as I just wanted to enjoy it.

Finally, the last quarter mile I looked for my family and didn’t see them. I hit the final turn for the last few hundred feet and there they were cheering on. My daughter was with a couple of her friends too. It was so cute and I pointed and smiled as I crossed the line. I saw the time on the clock and was really happy with my run.

Time – 25:15.3
Pace – 8:07
Overall Finish – 83 out of 456
AG Finish – 6

I knew I beat the 5K time in March. I couldn’t remember what I ran in 2015 but I knew it was 24 something, so I hadn’t hit that. I was happy though. I knew it was a good time and I have breaking 8 in my sight again.

When I got home, I figured out this was actually the second fastest 5K I’ve ever run. That really made me feel good. I was very proud of my run and the effort I gave.

Looking forward to running this race again next year. It benefits my kids school system, so it’s a great cause. Hopefully, more people will run it next year.

New Jersey Half Marathon Recap

I did it! I completed my first half marathon on April 30, 2017. I finished The New Jersey Half Marathon in 1:58:00. I averaged a 9:00 mile pace and finished 1,039 out of 3,664 overall, 106 out of 246 in my division, and 641 out of 1,555 for males.

It has been quite an experience these past few months with training and preparing for this race. I feel I’ve come a long way since I first started training. Originally, my goal was to simply finish. Prior to this, the longest I ever ran was a 10K during a triathlon I completed back in 2005. In the past few years, the longest race I ran was the Ashenfelter 8K each Thanksgiving morning. Making the jump from 4.98 miles to 13.1 miles seemed so far out there to me.

As I trained, I started adjusting my goals. About half way through training, I told myself, you’re going to break 2 hours. Work for it, get your pace down, see yourself crossing that finished line with a 1 and not a 2 in the hour place holder.

Then, I ran the Garden State 10 Miler and I honestly thought I could run somewhere between 1:50 and 1:55. I felt like I hit on all cylinders that day. Training continued to go well. I kept with my schedule and felt great the week of the race.

I took Friday off as a rest day prior to the race. I ran 2 easy miles on Saturday morning. After my daughter’s soccer practice, we had lunch and then got in the car and headed down to the Expo.

The Expo was nice. It was at the Monmouth Park Race Track, where the starting line was, and it was pretty easy to get through everything. We picked up my bib, parking passes, swag, took a family photo, bought a couple of things, and then walked around the booths. We chatted with reps from the Chicago Half, Bermuda Half, and RWJ Barnabas Health. Eventually, I think I’d really like to run Chicago and Bermuda.

After the Expo, we checked in to our hotel, unpacked and then went to dinner. I had pasta with broccoli and chicken. I don’t think it agreed with me too much as my stomach was just off during the race. I realized this was the first time I wasn’t cooking my pre race dinner. Next year, I might end up going to the Expo on Friday, so I can eat dinner at home prior to driving down to a hotel.

I was in bed early, around 9:30 and then up at 5:00 am on Sunday. I had a bagel and drank water/Gatorade. I showered, glided up, and got dressed. I was out of the hotel by 5:55 am and drove the 1.7 miles over to race track.

Parking was easy, as volunteers literally just put one
car after another. I took my time in the car, used The Travel Stick to roll out my legs, and then headed over to the starting area and bag check. I checked my bag and then headed over to the porta potties to get in line. After that, I warmed up by jogging around 3/4 of mile and stretched. I got my FlipBelt squared away and headed over to the corrals.

I was in Corral 4. All I thought to myself was, don’t embarrass yourself by being in a corral that you end up not finishing in the selected timeframe. I don’t know, I’m still new to a lot of this and sometimes I look around and  feel like people are like what is this guy doing in here haha. I know I shouldn’t but I’m sure with more experience it will go away.

The Bugle player got us all ready for the start, which was really cool, and then they blasted Born to Run by Bruce. Considering The Boss got his start around this area, it was kind of cool to hear.

The race was off and it wasn’t nearly as congested in the beginning as I thought it would be. According to the race results, I ran the first 10K (6.2 miles) in 53:56 for an 8:41 pace. I felt good early on. My lungs/wind was not heavy and I was loose. The only thing that caught my attention was that I felt like I started to sweat heavily within the first half mile. I normally sweat a lot but it generally takes me a few miles to get like that. I should’ve thought ahead and prepped but I didn’t.

There weren’t too many spectators early on in the race, but I didn’t think it was a problem. At that point you had so many other runners around you, you felt like part of a group.

The course had plenty of signage along the course. Some homeowners have signs up, a few were blasting music, some had couches out. It was really cool. The funniest two signs I saw were a 2 or 3 year old holding a sign that simply said “Beer” with an arrow on it. The other was of an older woman that said something like “Wow you have great stamina, give me a call”. That one actually had me laugh out loud as I ran by. The people and volunteers along the course were great cheering everyone on. There were plenty of police, EMS, and firefighters too that you felt safe and in good hands if needed.

At the water stop around mile 6.2, one of the volunteers was a friend of mine from college. I went running by yelling her name out and got a huge shout and smile. It was awesome. Just before this point, I had another good laugh as one guy behind me goes to his buddy, hey just think, we only have 20 more miles to go and they laughed about it. You have to love the humor you hear while running a race. At that moment I was glad I was only doing the half.

Around 7 miles is the relay transition. This can play some mind tricks with you. You pass by these runners waiting to start. Well, you’re 7 miles in already and next thing you know, you have runners passing you and you’re thinking to yourself wtf is going on. Then you realize oh, these are relay runners just starting out with fresh legs.

I kept chugging along but when I completed mile 7, I noticed my pace had dropped a little. I thought, no big deal just pick it up. But around mile 8 was a little bit slower than mile 7 though. Going on mile 9 was where the wheels started to come off a little. I knew I wasn’t moving as fast. My lungs/wind felt OK still but my legs felt like they just weren’t working right.

As I continued and hit mile 10 I realized the issue was probably more due to dehydration. I was taking  water at almost all water stations but I definitely wore more than I drank. I continued to push through and it definitely helped that from about mile 10 until you hit the boardwalk there are a lot of people along the streets giving great encouragement.

I finally hit the boardwalk and told myself not much longer. I kept pushing it but the extra kick I had on all of my practice runs at the end just wasn’t there that day. I knew breaking 1:55 was out at this point but I knew I could still break 2 hours and that is what I was pushing for.

The boardwalk part of the run was not really windy at all, which was a relief. The view was spectacular. It did seem longer than I was expecting but I knew eventually I’d hear and see the finish line area.

As I got near the finish line, I decided to put up one finger to note this was my first half marathon ever. Not to say I was number one lol, but to note it in pictures.

As I was crossing the finish line, I saw my wife and kids. I got my medal, which is really cool, but felt wonderful to put on . My wife and kids were so excited and it made my day. I quickly got and chugged a container of water. Then met them at the fence. I was definitely tired but so happy to see them. I grabbed another water, Gatorade, banana, snack box, and cover and walked over to them. I felt like that walk was taking me forever. I stood and talked to them for a few minutes and then decided I just wanted to lay down for a few seconds in the grass lol.

I thought the race had plenty of water/Gatorade stations throughout and porta-potties along the course. I know I hydrated plenty leading into the race. I don’t know why I sweated more than normal, but even looking at my FitBit heart rate levels confirmed it for me as I was in Peak way longer than I should have been. I think this race taught me that my next long race, I have to alter what I’m doing for fluids, especially during the race.

It’s amazing how for months you’re training for something and then you wake up the day after you’ve achieved your goal and you kind of don’t know what to do. It was weird waking up on Monday morning. I used Monday and Tuesday as rest days to allow my body to recover. I did a little research on upcoming races but haven’t made a decision on what I’m going to do. My plan is to run a few shorter races, like 5 and 10Ks throughout the summer and then aim for another half marathon in September or October.

So I did it. I was probably hard on myself at points after the race as I didn’t run the perfect run, but I realize it was still a great race and I had fun. My family and friends were all great with their congratulations and that they were proud of me.

I liked this race enough that I’m planning on coming back next year. Oh, and my goal will be to beat that 1:58:00. :o)

10 More Wake Ups!

Ten!

That’s it. Ten more wake ups until The New Jersey Half Marathon! To say I’m excited, and probably a little nervous, is an understatement. During my runs on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, I told myself during and after both runs, I’m ready. I’m ready for Long Branch. I’m ready for the shore. I’m ready to run this race. To run my race. I know I’ve put in the training, now it’s time to put the finishing touches on it, finalize my plan, run, and enjoy.

My runs this week have been good. I’ve done a little bit of everything while pulling back on the mileage as I taper over these last two weeks.

On Saturday, I ran 9.34 miles. I dialed the pace back a little but felt good through out. It was an early morning run and I used it to concentrate on form. I didn’t let my breathing get out of control at all.

Monday was a nice recovery run of 5.12 miles. The first two miles were a bit sluggish, but the final 3+ miles felt fantastic. I hit a strong stride and honestly, I just wanted to keep going. I had to keep reminding myself it was a recovery run and to not overdo it. I averaged out at a 9:19 pace and made sure my breathing never got to a point where I couldn’t hold a conversation.

Tuesday, I decided to run a course that had more flat areas than my normal routes. I figured that would help my legs during these last two weeks. I ended up running a 6.34 mile course in 54:04 for an 8:31 pace. I felt strong on this run and it definitely helped me mentally as I was able to hit that 8:31 pace without feeling like i left it all out there. I felt good wind wise, strong physically and mentally.

Wednesday I decided to work on a shorter run but push it from the start. Normally, my first mile or two I ease into it and run slower miles. I went for it from the start here though, figuring I was only running 4 miles. I averaged an 8:16 pace, finishing the 4 miles in 33:04. This run felt awesome. There were times in the beginning I questioned whether or not I’d be able to maintain it but I did and actually felt stronger as the run went on.

I just felt like something has clicked this week. Hopefully, I’m right.

Now, I need to continue to focus on hydrating and getting the right amount of sleep and adjusting my clock so I’m ready for the earlier wake up on race day.

Any suggestions for the last 10 days before a half marathon? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

March Training Recap

March seemed like it had a little bit of everything but overall I think I had a really good training month with running. I also started lifting 4 days a week consistently, which I think has been very beneficial for my training.

My numbers for March were:

Total Miles Run – 110.765
Total Runs – 20
Longest Run – 12.47 miles
Races – 2

I ran two races as preparation for the NJ Half Marathon. I ran in the Morristown St. Patrick’s Day 5K on March 11th (race recap click here) and the Garden State 10-Miler in Somerset on March 26th (race recap click here).  My results for the races were:

Garden State 10 Miler, Somerset, NJ (3/26/17)  –  1:27:17.67 (Pace 8:43)   PR – 10 Miler
Aerie Pharmaceuticals St. Paddy’s Day 5K, Morristown, NJ (3/11/17)  –  25:55.98   (Pace 8:20)
My longest run of the month was in the beginning. A nice 12.47 run. A run that my GPS on my FitBit Surge went a little off, but I noticed it while I was running through the park. I wasn’t sure how off it was but when I saw what it had my pace at, I knew it was off by a good amount. It’s an area I’ve had issues with when running. I ended up running until the watch said 12 miles on it so I knew for sure I made that goal. Everything else was gravy and I was thrilled when I marked it out that it was 12.47 miles.

The weather was all over the place. From days snow storms to high winds to one day in the 20s and the next in the 60s. A little all over the place.

I ended up having two non-planned rest days in March, the first two of the NJ Half Marathon training schedule for me. One was due to the snow storm Stella that ripped through NJ, not as bad though as originally planned. The kids were off school and my wife had to head into work the night before, so there was no conceivable way I could get a run in. I don’t own a treadmill, so there wasn’t much I could do, so I enjoyed the rest day and time with my kids. The other unexpected rest day was due to not feeling well. I started not feeling well on the 19th later in the day and whatever I had hit me pretty hard for almost a week. Running actually made me feel better most days, as it was mostly a head cold/sinus & chest congestion. On the 22nd though, I felt like a truck hit me. I figured it was best to rest as much as possible to try and kick whatever it was that I had. Even though I wasn’t 100%, I still decided to run the Garden State 10 Miler that Sunday.

I think March reallly was a good month for training. With a month to go until the NJ Half Marathon, I’m feeling very confident in where my training has brought me. Part of me wishes the race was here already but I’m going to take advantage of this last month to hopefully not time off of my pace so I can hit this half marathon with all I got.

How was your training in March?
Did the weather affect you at all?
Were you able to get through March without getting sick?

Race Recap – Garden State 10 Miler

With the NJ Half Marathon approaching in about a month, I decided to sign up for the Garden State 10 Miler in Somerset/Franklin (NJ)
three days before. I realized I can’t run in the Cherry Blossom Run 10k (attending the Bon Jovi concert woot woot), so I was looking for a longer race alternative. I remembered seeing a postcard for this race at the Pre-Game 4 Miler and decided since I was due for a 9 mile long run that weekend, why not just run this. I figured it would be good practice for the half.

I ended up running the 10 miler in 1:27:17.67 for an 8:43 pace. I was really happy with the time. I wanted to crack 9:00 and then challenge 1:27. I was sick all week and even during the race, so I know I wasn’t 100%. I was totally happy with the time and how I pushed myself. I finished 210/537 overall, 148/272 gender, and 30/45 for my age group.

I decided I would use it as a prep and push hard for a good time but test out a few different things to see what is best for the half. The biggest thing I was concentrating on was water stops. I decided to take water at all but the first and last stations to work on hydrating while running. I have to say, I suck at it. I think I might have drank a total of 6 oz or so and wore the rest. I know it definitely took time off my run too, so I’m trying to figure out what my next step is. It was about 40 degrees and I went with shorts and t-shirt as that is what I’m planning on going with at the half. The funny part was when I finished, I looked down at the sweat on my shirt and it looked like it was frosting over.

I identified three runners around me around mile 2 that I felt were running the type of pace I wanted to go at. They definitely kept me motivated and pushed themselves throughout the day and kept me going, trying to stay with them. I was able to thank one guy I was running with for most of the race after we finished. I saw him after from a distance and I was walking up to congratulate him when a woman tapped me on my shoulder. I turned and she said to me that I really ran a great pace. I smiled and thanked her. It made me feel so good.  I then went over and shook the guy’s hand and told him great race and we joked about how we kept going back and forth and for awhile on the course kind of had the roads to ourselves. It’s so funny that I went to thank him and was going to thank this woman that I kept in my view for pacing but couldn’t find her. To then have this other runner thank me, was really runspirational to me. I love that. I love telling others when they have motivated me and it’s always nice to hear others tell you that you helped push them through a race. There is just a great community feeling at races.

This was the first year for the Garden State 10 Miler and I think it went really well. It was well organized and the course was nice. They billed it as flat and fast. I was expecting more of pancake flat course. The course seemed to have a lot of rolling hills, which was still nice but not what I had prepped for in my head. The scenery of the course was beautiful. Plenty of water stations and volunteers. I think they hit a home run with this race and I’m looking forward to running it again next year.

The t-shirt they gave out was really nice and the medal, OMG. I love the new bling. Being from New Jersey, I love it that it’s an outline of the state. The colors are vibrant and it’s a big sized medal. I ended up wearing it all day long. Proud of it. I even wore it into WaWa and Ace lol.

Overall, I’m thrilled I decided to run this race even though I wasn’t feeling a hundred percent. It was a good practice run for the upcoming NJ Half Marathon. It definitely gave me a confidence boost. Now I have a month to work out a few things, get stronger, and ready to rock and roll.

Race Recap – St. Paddy’s Day 5K Morristown

I ran the Aerie PharmaceuticalsSt. Paddy’s Day 5k in Morristown on Saturday, March 11th. It was a bitterly cold morning but I felt the race went almost as well as it could have. More on the almost below. The temp was around 18 degrees but felts like 5-6 degrees. Not ideal but once I got going, I was fine. I decided to try out a new winter long sleeve from Nike that I picked up at Fleet Feet in Montclair on sale. It definitely kept me warm and was very light on me. Nothing like getting something great at the end of season sale for dirt cheap.

I ended up finishing the race in 25:55.98 for an 8:20 pace. For some reason, my chip time was the same as the clock time. I know that wasn’t the case as I wasn’t first in line haha. My watch time had it at 25:51. I ended up finishing 109 out of 638 racers. I finished 85 out of 290 males and 10 out of 27 in my age group (35-39). I was happy with a top 10 finish. Always cool to see your name in the top 10.

The course was a nice one. Very scenic. Mostly flat but had a nice steep long incline about 1.75 miles into the race. Unfortunately, this is where my “almost” part comes in. For the first time ever during a race, my shoe lace decided to come untied. Of course it was while I was going up the hill. I decided to run the rest of the hill and stop at the top to tie it on the side of the road. Of course, it had to be the one shoe I retied after warming up. I’m wondering if it would’ve come untied if I didn’t attempt to make it tighter. Ugh, it just annoyed me. I really think I would’ve ran an 8:10-8:15 pace and shaved off another 15-30 seconds of my time. It is what it is, but when things like that happen it just annoys me a bit.

My first mile pace was 8:16, second mile was 8:42 (hill + stopping to tie my shoe), third mile was 8:07, and the final .1 was 7:26 pace. I was definitely happy with how I was able to push it and have my fastest mile be at the end. I had an extra kick and when I saw the clock ticking up closer to 26, I told myself, no matter what I’m finishing with that clock still reading 25 in the minute holder.

It was good to get out there for another race in preparation for the NJ Half Marathon on April 30th. No matter what, it’s good to run with others, remember how it feels to dodge people and not have to worry about traffic. I always run faster too during races. I like to identify a few people around where I’m running to help pace me as the race distances itself. Plus, nothing beats sprinting to the finish with people cheering for the runners. So motivating.

I’ll definitely consider running this race again next year. The organizers did a really nice job with it and it was an enjoyable course. Hopefully it’s just not as cold next year.

February Training

FEBRUARY FACTS
Miles Run:  110.16
Runs:  18
Longest Run:  11.5 Miles
Rest Days:  4
Races:  1
Pre-Game 4 Miler Morristown (35:11.02 – 8;47 pace)

MY THOUGHTS:
I’m very pleased with February’s training. February 5th marked 12 weeks until the NJ Half Marathon that I’m training for.  I couldn’t ask for a better month of weather. Yeah we had some snow and ice, but for February in New Jersey, this was probably the best it could have been. Considering I ran outside in shorts and tshirt multiple times and not 20 layers is saying something.

Heading into February, the longest I’d ever run was 9 miles, which was the last week in January haha. I was able to get a 10 mile, 11 mile, and 11.5 mile run in during the month.

I definitely feel my base getting better. In January, 8 and 9 miles seemed daunting. Now, they feel good. It’s working now on miles 10-12. But that’s what training is for, right?

I was starting to question my pace a bit though. It just didn’t seem like it was budging. However, in the final week of the month, it seemed to. I was happy to see that and reminded myself to be positive. Things take time. Put in the work and it will happen.

I think I did a nice job of mixing my runs up. Most were done outside, some on the track, and some on the treadmill. I like to switch it up for recovery, speed, and flat versus hilly conditions.

There aren’t a lot of races to select from in New Jersey in February but I found one on Super Bowl Sunday that I decided to race in. It was the Pre-Game 4 Miler in Morristown. I had a really nice time at this race and was pleased with my results. It was my first time running a 4 mile race distance.

I was also getting a little sick of some of the areas I was running, so I tried out a few new routes during the month. Found one that I really like right now. Has hills, straightaways, and allows me to run through the park for almost 2 miles. I think I’m going to try and run the loop twice this weekend and cut some of it off for the second loop to get me to 12 miles. The loop is approximately 6.8 miles.

I purchased the Travel Stick when I picked up my packet for the 4 Miler. I’ve been using it and I’m going to write up a review on that soon.

I signed up for a St. Patrick’s Day 5K in Morristown, which will be on March 11th.

Last week, I tried out the Normatec Compression boots at a PT place in my town that sponsors a lot of the local races. I liked them and bought 5 sessions to start. It’s cool. They have a recovery lounge with a fire place and you sit on a massaging chair as you wear them. I’m using them for 30 minutes. Legs felt good afterwards. My plan is to use them on Saturdays after long runs.

I also got back into lifting again this month. I felt like I needed to work on my upper body especially since my legs have been getting all the work. I’m lifting four times a week and it’s going well.

It was a quick month but a good month. Happy with my training. I feel like I’m getting there. Less than two months now until the half marathon. Need to keep working.