Race #8, State #8 NJ
May 5, 2013--Long Branch, NJ
The next race was the Long Branch Half Marathon at the Jersey Shore. I became aware of this race as a fund raiser to help “restore the shore” after Hurricane Sandy completely devastated the area. A college friend of mine lives near there, so I thought of her and the hardship she encountered from the hurricane and knew this was a race I wanted to run. This was also the first time the family joined me for a race. My husband and two daughters and I hit the road on Saturday for the drive to New Jersey. The race start and packet pickup were at Monmouth Park. We arrived there in the afternoon and then met up with my college friend, Maggi, for a quick lunch before checking in to the hotel. We met up with her in the very cute town of Red Bank. It was so wonderful to reconnect with her, as it had been many years since we’d seen each other in person. She met my girls for the first time, and we had a nice chat about life in general. We walked in and out of the cute shops in Red Bank before stopping for a coffee and then hitting the road.
Our hotel was a bit of a hike from the starting line of the race. Due to the hurricane, many people in the area were still displaced, so hotel rooms nearby were difficult to come by. We stayed a good 30 minutes or so outside of the area, which turns in to a longer commute in the morning when the entire family is in tow. At an ungodly early hour. Thank goodness I have a wonderfully supportive husband.
The night of sleep was hard for all of us. I always have some nerves the night before a half, just thinking about getting up early and having all my gear ready, etc. Add to that two restless kids and some snoring, and it makes for a less than restful night of sleep. But, so be it. We all piled in to the car at 5 am or so and got on the road to Monmouth Park.
I was there pretty early, but I’d rather be early than rushing to get in line for porta-potties at the last possible minute. The starting line was well organized, considering this race was right after the Boston marathon bombing. There were lots of rules about checking gear and what kind of bags could be brought to the finish line area. Despite all that, the mood at the start was positive. I wore a blue and yellow ribbon on my Boston Red Sox hat for this race, along with a red and yellow (NJ shore support) ribbon as well. I was ready to go. My only complaint was that the music playing at the start area was exclusively Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. Neither favorites of mine.
We were off and running, and I again aligned myself with the 1:45s hoping to repeat my Virginia success. I was fast at the start, and in fact ran the first half of the race much faster than I should have. By mile 8 I was losing steam...fast. Near the end of the race I felt pretty depleted and very slow. I still finished in a respectable 1:49:35, but I could have done better if I’d paced myself. As I came along the boardwalk for the final stretch, I tried to give all I had, and seeing my husband and daughter at the finish line was such a treasure. Everyone was very excited to see me and my medal and share in the humungous soft pretzel I got in the finishing chute. Huzzah! We all piled in the car and headed back to the hotel to shower and pack up for home.