After weeks of debating whether to register for my 11th marathon (6 weeks after completing my 10th in VA) or whether to even run a race the same weekend as a wedding; I finally made the decision. I decided after 5 years of taking part in the NJ Marathon series (2 halves & 3 fulls) that I just couldn’t miss this race! So many memories; including my 2nd half marathon finishing in 1:57 (taking almost 30 minutes off my 1st half marathon), my half in 2011′ where my sister surprised me at the finish line, my PR Marathon in 2012′ (my 3rd BQ) – the race that took me to Boston in 2013, NJ Marathon 2013′; just 3 weeks after running the 2013′ Boston Marathon & last year’s NJ Marathon!
I had to defer it in 2014′ due to a stress fracture & I was completely crushed! My decision was made; decided against another full so soon after completing my 10th plus we had a wedding the same weekend & I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel! Instead; I would run the 2016′ NJ Half Marathon making this my 27th half marathon after just completing my 26th 2 weeks prior! I knew many people running the full & the half; including my sister-in-law Jess! I immediately informed everyone of my decision to run! I was so excited to run & hang out after to cheer on fellow runners! I continued training just as I had been & slowly began a slight taper. I wasn’t yet sure if I was going to all out race or run at a comfortable pace. I decided to just focus on getting rest, tapering & loading up in my carbs. I would simply decide based on how I felt on race weekend. Race weekend arrived! Friday was our friends wedding; I woke up bright & early. I had a few errands to run before heading over to the mall for my makeup appointment. It had been years since I had my makeup done so I was looking forward to it. I showed up at 11am and in less than an hour my makeup was done! I was so pleased with the way it came out!!
Now to head home, do my hair & drive up north to make it in time for the ceremony. The wedding was wonderful! We had such a blast that we ended up getting home at 3am.
I realized that this may effect my race on Sunday. However, over the years I’ve come to realize just how important it is to find balance in training – allowing myself time to relax & do things outside of training. It is so important. In that case; I wasn’t beating myself up for staying out late. I would do my best Sunday. Saturday arrived, I allowed myself to sleep in a bit. Got about 7 hours sleep before heading out to run some errands & visit the race expo. I arrived at the expo, walking past the Marathon bib pickup thinking “maybe I should have done the full” then I said it out loud as Hubby gave me a look because he knew just how exhausted I was! I picked up my bib and tee; took some pics, met up with a fellow runner and visited the starting line before heading home to do a shakeout run and prepare for race day!
Rain was in the forecast for race day, but there was nothing I could do but make the absolute best of it! After running a rainy/windy marathon in March; my only hope was that the wind wouldn’t be too bad! I woke up bright and early on race morning (4:45am); got dressed, hopped in the car with hubby and headed to the race! We got there very quickly; no traffic at all & parking was very easy! We headed inside where we met up with my sis-in-law Jess and my brother-in-law Mike. The girls waited on the mile long line to use the restroom before heading outside to line up in our corrals. It stared to rain just before the race started; we gave each other good luck hugs and took our spots in our corrals! I was feeling a bit tired after staying up until 3am on Friday; I wasn’t sure what to expect so I put no pressure on myself and had no pre-race jitters at all. I promised myself I wouldn’t go out to fast and instead I would run by feel. Within minutes; we were off! The start was very crowed, but within minutes I found my pace! I ended up running with the 3:35 marathon pacer for a bit. The pace felt great so I figured I would pace myself! I held this pace for a while; I passed the 3:35 pacer for a bit before joining the 3:30 marathon pacer & 1:45 half marathon pacer. I stayed with these pacers for most of the race; losing them then finding them again at each water stop! It was raining but I felt amazing! A few times during the race; I was definitely feeling like I could have used that extra sleep but overall; I was maintaining my pace; fueling every 5 miles with my Honey Stinger Gel & running strong! The energy of the people on the streets cheering was AMAZING! They didn’t care one bit that it was pouring rain; they greeted each of us with smiles and high fives! At mile 11; we looped around to finish the last 2 miles along the water! I thought that we might be fighting a bit of ocean wind, but surprisingly there was not much wind at all! My goal was to finish strong so I gave it all I had for those last 2 miles! The finish line was soon in sight; I sprinted that final mile with pure determination crossing the finish line in 1:46:18! Not a PR, but considering I danced the night away until 3am at a wedding on Friday I didn’t expect a PR. This was however; the fastest half marathon I’ve run since 2012 & for that I am proud!
After crossing the finish line; I met up with my hubby and brother-in-law; quickly took one photo (above) before heading into the changing tent to put on some dry, warm clothes! We all found a spot at the finish line to cheer on the other runners and see Jess cross the finish line! It was absolutely pouring, but everyone was having such a fantastic time! I looked at my watch & knew Jess would be crossing the finish line soon! I knew she had a goal time in mind & I knew she was going to achieve her goal! And then; there she was! I yelled “Here comes Jess!” We all took our our phones; fidgeting to try to get into my phone as rain drops fell on my screen as I yelled”WOOHOO – GO JESS GO!! I saw the tears in her eyes and immediately knew that she did it; she ran a PR !!
Even better; she crushed her goal running a 15 minute PR finishing in 2:35! We hugged and cried! Congratulations Jess! I am so proud of you girl!!
It was such a fantastic day in so many ways!
That day I put my 27th half marathon in the books! I honestly don’t know where the time has gone since I ran my very 1st race / half marathon in 09′ in Central Park, but everyday I am so thankful that I made the decision to step out of my comfort zone & give it a try! Running has changed my life in so many way & for that; I am so thankful!
In 09′ I began this journey running my 1st half marathon in 2:25 and today my PR is 1:38! Dream. Believe. Achieve. Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger! If you can dream it; you can do it!
Overall this was a fantastic race and I am so glad that I decided to run it again! (I also was so glad that I went for the half this time instead of the full!) I will definitely be running again next year & I know Jess will be too!!
Have you ever attended a wedding & raced in the same weekend?
How do find balance between training & your social life?
Have you raced in the pouring rain?
Is there a race that you run every year & just can’t miss?
Thoughts, comments – please share!
Thank you as always for following my journey!