Monday, May 4, 2009

Reason #45: Long Branch Half Marathon

The Long Branch half marathon was a success! It was quite an adventure, and to say the least, I am so thankful it is done. I went into the race hoping to break a 2:00 time, and I ended up finishing at 1:50:48 (chip time). My boyfriend beat his previous PR as well and smoked finished before me. He took an unorthodox approach in training this year by doing minimal running and a lot of Crossfit training - apparently it worked! The weather was in the upper 50s, with very little wind, and a moderate amount of humidity. It rained the whole time, which at times was refreshing, and at other times made me feel like a wet dog.

At 7:20am we moved toward the starting line on the boardwalk along with the other 8,000 runners for the intended 7:30am start. It was quite packed, and we stood there for an extra 30 minutes due to a race delay. Eventually the final countdown began, 5-4-3-2-1, and off we trotted. The roads were mobbed for the first 3 miles. I was weaving in and out of people, running on the sidewalks, and not until mile 4 or so did I find a comfortable, steady pace. For anyone running their first half marathon, it is important to keep your eyes focused on where you are stepping. It is so crowded it is very possible to step on someone, trip someone, or fall over curbs. The first mile is especially crowded, and you will not be able to run as fast as you would like to run. The picture below is at mile 5 which was much more spacious than the previous miles. Im sporting the blue long sleeves (or you may recognize me as the only female in the picture).The best part of running the race was the adrenaline rush that comes with the spectators’ cheers and the enthusiasm from other runners. There was music, flags, signs, and high-fives from spectators aligning the roadway, and it was an easy and enjoyable run throughout downtown Long Branch. I was feeling good until miles 9 and 10 of the race when the incline started to increase and the sidelines became quiet. Oddly enough, when I am running, my legs rarely ache or I feel out of breath. Instead, I always get awful stomach pain and nausea when I feel myself pushing too hard. So I started to ease off a bit and maintain a slower, steadier pace at mile 9. I was forcing myself to keep hydrated, and I drank water at 3 stations, sipped Gatorade at two, yet passed on the pretzels and candy at the Mile 10 or so station. Do some runners really chow down on M&Ms and soda during the run? I kept telling myself at mile 11, I would increase my speed, but once I reached that point, the kick I was so hoping for was not there. When I eventually made it to the ocean promenade (warning for future LB racers: the promenade is longer than you think), I paced myself until I saw my mom and dad cheering for me by the Pier Village. I gave them a thumbs up (geek moment on my part) and started to sprint to the finish line, and just when I thought I was done, I realized I had a final .1 left. I pushed myself over the finish line in exhaustion and happily accepted my medal and hat (check out the pic below).
Unfortunately, the next 1.5 hours I felt pretty terrible with nausea. Unfortunately, this is a reoccurring side effect after I push myself hard. I have no idea the cause – not enough sodium, imbalance of electrolytes, not enough carbs, dehydration? Any dieticians out there? Perhaps coffee, Cheerios, and a banana is not the breakfast of champions?

Overall, the race went well, and I am happy with my results. Today I feel pretty good - the only soreness I have is minimal aches in my quads. I remember last year I was so excited to run the next race, “sign me up for another half! Heck, why not make it a full marathon!” While this time around I am saying “did I really pay to run a 13.1 mile race? How in the world do people run twice that?” Perhaps in a few days I will want to run the next one, but for now the couch is looking mighty inviting.

PROS: The race was marked very well. The volunteers and fans were great and the fluid stations were plentiful. The course is flat and the scenery is beautiful at points along the run.

My boyfriend and I drove down to Long Branch on Saturday afternoon to pick up our chip, t-shirt, and bags. While we quickly picked up our chip and t-shirts, we waited and waited for the bags. We were told to wait 5 minutes, then after 45 minutes, we were told it would be another 30 minutes. After traveling one hour to pick up the bags, we were so disappointed we would have to wait one hour+ for the bags. Why the disorganization? Frustrated, we left.

We experienced a lot of traffic at 6:15am. Enough traffic that we thought we were going to miss the race. Our nerves got the best of us as we sat in bumper to bumper traffic. Apparently, it effected others as well as we witnessed a fender bender right infront of us. Fortunately for those in traffic, a parking location (1/3 mile away from the starting line where we had parked the previous year) was opened around 7am. It was a much more convenient location that getting shuttled from the remote location, and an advantage for those who show up late.

Overall, I recommend this race to anyone in the neighboring area. Long Branch is a great location especially on a warm, sunny day. Now when is the next race?


  1. Congratulations! The race sounds great aside from the nausea and traffic. I'm sorry those happened! But you should be so proud of yourself!

  2. HUGE congrats to you girl! amazing job on the half, you are def an inspiration to the half i want to do in oct :)