All winter I had been training for the New Jersey Marathon with an amazing group of ladies. I worked really hard in training and this was going to be my goal race- I was going to run a sub 4 hour marathon in NJ. I was ready!
Well that didn’t exactly happen, as I mentioned in my May recap, but it was a great marathon and fun weekend.
A few days before the marathon I got the best news. One of my running buddies Tami, who had trained with us but was not coming to NJ because she was planning to run a marathon closer to home in late May, surprised us with the news that she was coming to NJ and running the marathon! Everyone was so excited. It never felt right that Tami wasn’t going to be with us on race day after training with us.
Saturday morning I met up with Felice, Janis and Bridget so we could start the drive to NJ. Our car was certainly a bundle of nerves and excitement! Once we arrived in NJ we hit up the expo and got our packets and browsed the expo. After that we decided not to drive the course as planned but to head back to the house we rented to meet up with the rest of the ladies who had arrived earlier.
The house was amazing. Even more amazing was the awesome dinner Gail made for us. She made us pasta, sauce, and meatballs and it was so good. The perfect pre-race meal!
We all tried to go to bed early but I don’t think anyone slept much. We all had to get up pretty early to leave for the start. We knew traffic would be an issue and at the expo we were advised many of the roads would be closed down early for the half which started about an hour before the full. When we got up we realized there was no hot water in the house which definitely sucked. Most of us wanted a quick shower to wake up but it wasn’t in the cards.
While traffic to the race was slow we made it with plenty of time to spare and spent it hanging out by the porta potties. Once it was time to line up we all split up into our various corals. Karen, Tami and I were in the same coral and lined up in front of the 4 hour pace group. The three of us waited for the start and talked about how we were not going to start too fast, stick with our target pace, blah blah blah...As soon as the gun went off, we took off! We were running around 8:30. We talked about dialing it back but we felt so good it seemed like we couldn’t go slower. In my delusional mind I was doing the calculations (never a good idea for me to do math while running) and trying to figure out by just how much we were going to crush our sub 4 hour goal by staying at this pace. I was in fantasy land for sure!
At mile 11 I saw my husband and daughter who had driven down the night before to surprise me by spectating at the race. Seeing them made me so happy. I continued running fast and strong through the first half even getting a half PR at 1:57! I felt pretty good after the half although by this time I must have slowed down some because I had lost Tami and Karen, they were ahead of me. I knew I was also still way ahead of the 4 hour pace group.
By mile 16 I had slowed down significantly and as I stopped to refill my water bottle the 4 hour pace group ran by me. I was already starting to feel the effects of my ridiculous pace early on and seeing them pass me really killed my spirits. After that I started getting bad cramps in my calfs and needed to walk from time to time. Around mile 18 I saw Joe and Mia again. This gave me a nice boost but I was still frustrated as around this time I saw the 4:05 pace group pass me. I kept running and sometime after this I saw Felice who had already passed the turn around point and was heading back for the final 6 miles. Seeing her was another boost and at this point I was running with the 4:10 pace group but not for long...they also passed me.
I was still dealing with pretty bad cramping in my calfs. Around mile 20 I saw Joe and Mia again and Mia even ran alongside me for a bit. It helped to see them but I was still feeling lousy. Not long after that I stopped to walk and pulled down my compression socks. I don’t think my body was used to wearing them in such heat because once they were down my legs felt a lot better. I would have taken them off completely but I figured I wouldn’t get my shoes back on. I kept them down for a while and continued walking. I started trying to mentally regroup. I put my headphones in (which I should have done earlier) and tuned everything else out and then I started to run again. It was slow and it was painful but I kept going. I knew if I just kept at it I was going to PR and that while it wasn’t the race I planned on that was still pretty amazing. Not far before the finish I saw Joe and Mia again. They were seriously the best spectators ever! I kicked it up and got it done. My official time was 4:23:59- a 10 minute PR!
While it wasn’t the time I had in mind, I learned a lot from this race. Mainly that I have to stick with my race day plan. I can’t get caught up in the excitement and start so fast. I know I am capable of a sub 4 hour marathon. I have trained for one I just have to run the race I trained for. I didn’t train to run 26.2 miles at an 8:30 pace, why on earth would I try that?! I’m glad it happened because I will be smarter in the future and I will get that sub 4 marathon this year!
All in all it was a great weekend. Everyone PR’d! Even if we didn’t all meet our goals we had so much fun! I’m so lucky to have gotten to know this group of women and gone through this experience with them.