Thursday, 23 April 2015

Runapalooza-Asbury Park Half NJ, 2015

I'm alive. So I've been a bit quiet lately with good reason, I've been at a conference since last Friday. I've also been suffering from what I'll now term conference-lag aka extreme exhaustion. 5 days of science talks from 7am-7pm as well as post conference "networking". Not too much running but I did manage to squeeze in a half in NJ right before the conference started.
Being there already meant the only thing I paid (extra) to cross off NJ was a day's car hire, sweet!!! Even better the race was voted New Jerseys best half marathon. I got up on race morning and got the car I'd hired the night before. I was so pleased, I got a car the exact same as mine just in grey and the car hire place was on the same block as my hotel, so convenient. 
The race started at 8.30 am so I wasn't rising too early as we only had an hour and a half to drive from Philadelphia to Asbury Park. After a few wrong turns, almost run ins with crazy speeding drivers (think 90mph in a 45 mph zone) and some beautiful views we arrived at the race in one piece. All the public parking lots near the start were free all day and we found easy parking within walking distance of the expo/packet pickup.
The expo was small but they had one. Packet pickup on race day required an additional donation by check of $5 but that money went directly to charity...I'll donate $5 to Special Olympics quite happily. The area around the boardwalk was really nice some of it was a bit run down but in a cool looking way and it wasn't tactastic like some of the other seaside towns I've been to. I'd timed my arrival pretty well and didn't wait too long for the start. Most of the time was spent lining up for porta potties, they could have done with a few more for a very large crowd.
The start was crowded and once we got going I spent the first few miles weaving around slower runners until I worked my way closer to people holding a similar pace. I'm not trying to PR right now but I was under pressure to finish at a decent pace because the car was due back at 1pm before the car hire office shut for the weekend. Every minute counted especially since I've sat in traffic one too many times to know how even a very small set of roadworks can add a lot of time to a drive. I decided on finishing just under 2 hours. A decent pace that I knew I could do. It wouldn't leave me feeling trashed but it wasn't a relaxed pace either. I also decided it had to be even splits the whole way.
Unfortunately, I'd been expecting colder weather and had only packed long sleeved running tops. Even at 8.30 the sun was beaming down and feeling quite hot, doh!!!  Before the start I was feeling thirsty, the outlook for this race wasn't looking good. I missed out on the first water stop because I was too far over and it was too crowded to get there when I eventually saw the tables. After that I took in as much water/gatorade as I dared, walking through the aid stations throughout the race. I think the breeze from the sea saved me. By the end of the race I had a crust of salt on my face, I was fantasizing about cold drinks and my stomach was upset with me but I didn't overheat badly and that really was a small miracle.
The course itself was pretty interesting. There were small out and back sections that had us running through the town, around a pond, through some nice neighborhoods, some sidewalk running and along the boardwalk. Lots of stretches with nice views. Two parts I did not like were the sections of the boardwalk that were old, the boards were uncomfortable to run on and hard to maintain pace as a result, and the small section of sand. Honestly, I found the sand section amusing and thought it was a bit of a novelty more than anything else. The course was as flat as a pancake with aid stations spread out every couple of miles. 
Like the start I think the course could have done with a few more porta potties. My stomach was not so happy in the last 4-5 miles, I tried one set of restrooms on the boardwalk and they were locked. Then around mile 9 I saw a bathroom door standing opened. I ran in, used the facilities and realized as a guy walked in and started to use a urinal that I was in the men's, I bolted out of the stall I was in without washing my hands or looking in either direction he he!
I ran/dragged myself back to the finish after the last turn around at mile 10ish and still managed a little kick at the end. 1.59.05 how's that for just under two hours with even splits (even with a bathroom break). 
I got my medal (small but unique, themed around Tillie painted onto Wonder Bar at the start) and quick marched back to the expo to pick up my t-shirt. I see the logic in picking it up afterwards but I was in a rush so the extra walk back was unappreciated. In the expo hall they now had a bunch of food including pasta salads etc. they looked awesome and the spread  was big but I was a.) in a rush and b.) I'd been too hot for too long to even think about food. I just grabbed an extra gatorade for the car to replenish some lost salts.
I got my long-sleeved t-shirt. I loved the design so I was hugely disappointed when I realized it was unisex. I get that once upon time all race shirts were unisex but most races I run offer gender specific shirts so I wish that they'd mention that on the registration form when choosing sizes. I asked if I could swap but they said I had to wait until later, which I couldn't do. I still wore it on the drive back to the hotel :) I hopped in the car and made it back with 30 minutes to spare. Then after a quick shower it was off to the conference center to start listening to some cool science for the rest of the day!

Another race and another state down. A few very minor glitches, mostly due to the sheer number of runners but a great course. Thanks NJ you were great.


  1. Congratulations on finishing another half marathon. I have never run on sand before during a race, but can imagine that it's very unstable. Did you get a bunch of sand in your shoes? I have run on uneven terrain, which is sometimes unfortunate when my legs feel like lead. It sounds like you handled it pretty well. Good luck on everything going on in your life, keeping you busy. I completely understand those "busy" times of year.

    1. it was pretty unstable which wasn't so bad on the way out but I hit it again just before mile 13 on tired legs which wasn't so good! No sand in the shoes thank goodness.
      Thanks I'm sure you are exhausted right now as well, it seems like you are doing great though.