Saturday morning I woke up bright & early and headed to Asbury Park to run my 26th Half Marathon! It was my 1st time doing the Runapalooza race series and after hearing so many positive things about I was looking forward to finally running it for months. However, it was a tough week! After a loss in my family earlier in the week; I wasn’t feeling like myself. I woke up that morning feeling exhausted. The past few days brought back many very sad thoughts of the recent loss of my sister less than 6 months ago. I decided to go into this race with no pressure on myself; I had no expectations and only hoped run strong and dedicate this race to the ones I’ve lost .I had hopes to add on some mileage after the race to make this an 18 mile run. I knew my family would be there at the finish line and that was my motivation to get out there and run with my heart. Before the race started I made my final bathroom stop (waiting 20 minutes) then met up with my sister-in-law Jess and my brother-in-law Mike. Jess wasn’t running the race, but she moved her long run to Sunday so she could come out to cheer me on! So sweet! Start time grew closer and closer; I took my pre-race Honey Stinger Gel as I always do; gave everyone hugs and headed to the start! Within minutes; we were off! As always; I started right in front and took off wayyy too fast! It never fails; that adrenaline gets me every time! In the first mile; I was holding a 7:20-7:30 pace! I thought to myself; “you need to slow down!”
At mile 2; I was still flying now maintaining a 7:17 per mile pace as we passed a large crowd of people cheering loudly for us! I kept looking and looking & there was Hubby, Jess and Mike! I was all smiles as I waved, smiled and threw kisses their way! I was feeling good, but knowing in my head that I was going way too fast!
I ran past feeling strong! At mile 5; I took my 2nd gel! By this point; it was warming up quickly. I was sweating and wishing I didn’t wear long sleeves, but there was no turning back now! At mile 7; I saw a fellow Instagram Runner – Heather we waved to one another and smiled! So great seeing her out there! A big congrats to her on her PR!! Just after; I saw another water stop grabbing some water to dump over my head and then some Gatorade we looped around to heading south! I looked down at my watch; again reminding myself to pace a little better! If I had plans to make this an 18 mile run; I needed to slow down and so I did! I slowed down to an 8:00 – 8:07/mile. Feeling good. We ran south entering the Asbury Park Boardwalk; there I again saw my family – still all smiles I waved as I ran past!
At mile 10; I took my 2nd Honey Stinger gel before running through another water stop and pouring water over my head! It was pretty warm in that sun! We continued south toward Ocean Grove, then Bradley Beach and into Avon By The Sea looping around just before the bridge that connects Avon and Belmar Beach. We headed north on the boardwalk to finish the final few miles of the race straight into the wind! At that point; I was starting to feel those faster miles from the beginning of the race that I knew would affect me at the end of the race. Here they were! I still felt strong holding an 8:12/mile. The wind was quite strong and by mile 12 I slowed down a bit to an 8:19/mile to hold onto some energy for a fast finish! As I headed into the final mile; I was feeling strong and so excited to see everyone at the finish line! I pushed through that final mile with pure determination! I passed my family on the left as I saw the finish line in sight and sprinted with pure determination! I crossed the finish line in 1:47:14 feeling strong; feeling like I definitely ran a smart/strong race despite feeling exhausted at the start! I felt like I definitely had something left in the tank to get that 18 miler done!
I received my medal and immediately saw my family! I saw Jess, Mike, my parents and even little Carter; my sister’s dog was there! He was soo excited to see me; greeting me with lots of kisses and cleaning all the salt from my face!
I was soo happy to have him there! He is such a sweetie and makes me feel like my sister is right there with me all the time.
Of course we took post-race pics and post race pics with Carter! I was so thankful to have everyone there to support me! It was so special! It was a beautiful day filled with so much positive energy and it was just what I needed! I ended up finishing those last miles to make 18 miles for the day as I cheered on the marathon relay teams still running! Overall 18 miles in 8:17/mile! I later on checked the website to fins out my official time and realized that I placed 4th in my age group out of 130 females 35-39, 43rd woman out of 1,000 women and 150th overall out of 1,592!
It was a great day! A day that I won’t forget! This race course was fantastic; covering much of the route that I do all of my long training runs on. I will definitely be back to do this race again and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun filled half! I even saw myself on TV that night while a local news station was showing a recap of the race!
Overall a fantastic day! I would not be able to do all that I do without the constant love and support of the ones that I love and for that I am so thankful!
Thank you all for continuously following my journey!