I ran the Super Hero Halloween Half Marathon on Saturday, October 21st. I really enjoyed this race. Here is a race recap from this well organized and interesting course.
Unlike most half marathons, this one took place on a Saturday morning and started at 10:00 am, a little later than normal. It was really nice to have a later start time as I only live about 20-25 minutes from Morristown. I was able to wake up at my normal time and not be rushed at all. Originally, I planned to leave around 8:00 am for the race but ended up walking out of the door around 8:30. I figured it would take around a half hour to get there and parked so no big deal at all. All I had to do was get my flipbelt ready with fuel, drink a Gatorade, stretch, and do a short warm up job, so I still had plenty of time. It actually worked out better that I left then or else I would’ve just been standing around.
This race starts right off of South Street, which is where a lot of stores, bars, and restaurants are. There is a parking garage two blocks away which I think is very convenient. Super Hero Racing uses the same site for the Pre-Game 4 Miler so I felt at ease with the pre-race logistics.
This half marathon was five weeks after I ran the Newport Liberty Half Marathon. After the Newport Liberty Half, I decided I had five weeks to really push myself while I was training. I wasn’t happy with how my training went prior to the Newport Liberty Half. I know five weeks wasn’t going to get me back to challenge my time at The New Jersey Half Marathon, but I knew if I worked hard I could chip away at the time. I felt the five weeks included a lot of great runs. Honestly, I felt good about almost all of them. I was running a lot faster paces then I was leading into the Newport Liberty Half.
I didn’t get a great night of sleep two nights prior but I got a pretty good one the night before.
I decided to take off the two days prior to the half marathon this time. On Thursday, I did a lot of walking but nothing else. Tried to get off my feet when I could. Friday, besides a field trip to a farm with my daughter’s class, I was able to get off my feet. I hydrated well on Friday and Saturday prior to the race.
The weather was great for this race. Couldn’t ask for it to be better. Right around 70 degrees and humidity was low around 25-30%. Beautiful blue skies and sunny.
This race has pacers. I decided to slot myself in the corral near the 2:00 pacer. I listened to some of his advice prior to the start. After running an over 2:11 half five weeks prior, I wasn’t expecting to run at 2:00 but decided I would use him to pace the first few miles of the race.
The race started and it’s a bit congested in the beginning. There were about My800 runners in the race but the first three streets are a little tight in the beginning. I knew once we hit the main rode it would thin out. I just went with the pace of the pack until then.
When you hit the main road, it’s a gradual incline. I knew what to expect as the Pre-Game 4 Miler has you running in the opposite direction for this part of the race. It’s always interesting to run the opposite way.
I felt pretty good getting out of the gate and taking on the incline. My legs felt fresh. You then hit a pretty steep downhill, where you can get speed. I’ve been letting myself going on these, not holding back. I feel like I run them faster by doing this and actually catch my breathe. I knew that was important as a big hill was on the horizon.
I hit the steep incline and told myself to run it. Pass people. Go for it. Don’t kill myself but don’t take it easy. It’s early in the race, I let’s get through this one. I think it would’ve messed with me more mentally if it was a training run but I was amped up at this point and what I was a little nervous about turned into a mental boost once I hit the top.
The good thing was I knew there was another downhill coming up. Again, just let myself loose for it. I passed another pack of runners figuring, hey, if it feels good and you’re not killing yourself, go for it.
At this point, you’re about 2 1/2 miles into the race and hit about a 2 1/2 mile stretch (from miles 2 1/2 – 5) that you end up running the opposite way starting a little bit after mile 9. You run up an incline, which is for the overpass over Rt. 287, and then hit the decline of the overpass on the other side.
The roads at this point are all closed, so you basically have four lanes of road to run over.
Right before mile 4, you pass through the area that they use for the relay transition area. There are a lot of people cheering on at this point which was great. It does get a little tight in this area as you have lots of relay runners waiting to go, people crossing the street, and fans that are in the road.
You then run through a few winding roads with beautiful homes. I was still very close with the 2:00 pacer as I hit mile 5 and thought to myself, wow, who knows maybe I can go for it today. Just keep running the best you can.
Right after mile 5, you turn into Loantaka Brook Reservation, so it’s a paved park trail with lots of twists and turns. I had never run this part and couldn’t drive it two days before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t know why but I was expecting it to be more flat. Lots of ups and downs it seemed.
Due to all of the quick twists and turns, along with it being all woods around, I couldn’t see the pacer anymore. I had no idea how far ahead he was from me. I kept within pace of the runners I could see a few yards ahead of me though and figured that would be good for my pace.
Just after mile 6, I decided to eat my Honey Stinger energy chews. Well, not sure why, but I totally coughed at one point and a piece of one of them went down the wrong way. All I thought was, oh great, I’m going to end up puking from a chew, not from the run. Drank some more Gatorade but coughed here and there for about two to three minutes from it. I slowed up a little just to make sure I was okay during that period.
While I was running through the woods, I kept thinking to myself I should stop and pee. I made the error of using the porta potty too early prior to the race and when the race started I had to go. I was about an hour into the run at this point and throughout it, was like I really have to go. I didn’t want to be that guy though that relieved myself along the course, so I kept running. I figured next time I see a porta potty, I’ll decide if I have to go. Right around 7 1/2 miles in, there was one porta potty. I decided I would stop to use. That was until, I swear, the one lady about 10 yards ahead of me, decided to veer off and use it. I was like what are the odds. The immediate person in front of me lol. At that point, I said just keep going. I’m not going to stop and wait.
As you just pass mile 8, you turn back onto Woodland Avenue and at this point you are sharing the road with traffic. Most of it is an incline. You run on the shoulder of the road. For the amount of runners in the race, I was pleasantly surprised at the decent amount of runners around me at this point.
Just past mile 9, you start running that part of the course that you run the opposite way. You turn back into the neighborhood, off the busy road, so you feel a little bit safer with more space.
You hit the relay transition area again and I was a little surprised at the amount of people that were still there. I just assumed it would thin out once the transitions were all completed. It was nice to hearing all of the cheers again at this point. A good pick me up.
A little bit after mile 11, I knew the steep incline for the 287 overpass was coming up. All of the sudden, I felt this cramp hit my lower left calf/achilles area. I was like no, not now. I have two miles to go, I’m happy with my time and pace. I slowed up because I knew with the incline coming up this might be an issue. All of the sudden I felt a cramp in my right leg, same area. Then one in my lower thigh on my left leg. I kept telling myself, one and half miles to go. Just finish. Just finish. No matter what the time, just finish.
This is where the course gets interesting. It’s a lot of hills/inclines at this point. Everything is up. You don’t get any downhills. I didn’t realize it prior to the race. I haven’t run a race where you’re basically running up a hill for the lasts one and half miles. It was interesting.
I got through them all and I knew I was close. My legs would get a quick cramp that would go away quickly and I just kept mentally strong telling myself you’re right there. Just finish it.
People were cheering along the sidewalks so I knew the turn was close. When I hit the final turn, normally I sprint as hard as I can to finish. On this day, I was worried if I tried to sprint I’d cramp so I did pick up my pace but made sure I was running through the finish.
I put up three fingers to note my third half marathon and was pretty proud when I saw the time. I finished in 2:06:38 for a 9:39 pace. I ran exactly 5 minutes faster than the Newport Liberty Half Marathon. Considering that was a pancake flat course and this had lots of hills, I was really proud of this run. I knew minus the cramping, I could have run cut some time off of this race but I was still very happy with it. Nothing beats when you are just proud of what you accomplished. Sure, it wasn’t a PR, or even close to a PR, but I was very proud of myself.
I got my awesome medal right after finishing and immediately went to the porta potty. I joked that it was harder to go the 50 yards to them then it was to run the race.
Once I was done, I went straight to the Gatorade and water tables. I drank a lot to rehydrate. I had run with a water bottle that had 32 ounces of water in it and drank a few cups at the aid stations on the course. I just seem to sweat like none other. Still working on this.
I went over to cheer on other runners as they finished. Saw some really cool costumes during this race. Lots of super heroes, a bunch of guys dressed up as bananas, and one guy as Forrest Gump. I don’t think I could ever run in a costume but give props to all those that do. It is fun.
The race was definitely well organized, the course was nice and I thought a good challenging. I was happy with my performance. Overall, I think it was a great race and I will definitely look at running this one again next year.
Questions for you:
- Have you ever run in a costume?
- Do you prefer flat courses or courses with hills?
- Do you prefer larger or smaller fields of participants?