The last time we had run a marathon together had been in 2006, so we were overdue to meet up at a race and chat for 26.2 miles.
Please excuse the small bit of coughing left in my video; I cut out over 10 minutes of the really painful coughing. I didn’t know it at the time but I went into the race with a cold so starting a few hours after we got done running I got treated to a week of a very annoying and persistent cough that kept me home from work for a few days.
Download This Video: MP4 – MP3 – Watch on YouTube
My original plan for 2011 was to run my first 100 miler. I’d never run over 50 miles before, and Spring 2011 just seemed like a good time. I usually get in a lot of training over the winter.
Unfortunately, I wound up getting hurt in late 2010, so my 5 months of training turned out to be 4 months of barely any running and 1 month of no running whatsoever.
So thankfully, I had decided to run the New Jersey Ultra Distance Festival, which had a Marathon, a 50K, a 50 Mile, 100K, and 100 Mile options, so I was able to drop down to the marathon.
I flew in Friday night, so we didn’t go to the pre-race party. I wound up driving in the morning of the race with a friend of mine from the City. It was kind of nice dropping down to the marathon, because that meant that I got to run with my friend John. It was his third marathon, and it was the first time that he got to do a race where there are ultra events going on, and a trail marathon. So it’s a much different crowd than at the New York City Marathon, which is the only race that he’s run before.
So we drove out early on Saturday morning, and that was the weekend that we had the Super-Moon, which made the moon appear really large in the sky. That would have been a lot nicer up here in Maine, but driving from New York City towards New Jersey with that yellow haze just was kind of a sickly hue to it. But it certainly provided a lot of light. I’m sure it was great for the runners that started while it was still dark.
We showed up about an hour before our race was set to go off, so we got to see the 50K start. Then we went in. The race had these great yellow duffle bags for all of the runners, that had our race shirts in them, and listed on the side, what event you were doing and what you got along with the race in terms of post-race party, finisher medals, and anything like that.
So we lined up for the run. The start-finish area was all outside of a local church, which provided a great facility for the race headquarters to be.
The course was shaped like a “T” with 2 main out and back loops, a western side and an eastern side. For the longer races such as the 100 miler, all of the western side out and backs were run first, since they had to have that section closed off before it got dark, and then the eastern side loops would be done after that.
For the marathoners, what we did was a short 1.2 mile out and back, that was separate from those two. And then we did the western loop, and the eastern loop.
Most of the trail was on rail trail, so it was just soft gravel and some dirt. There was very little to trip over other than curbs when you’re crossing some roads. There was a little area where you’re running though a field, and that actually had a slight rise to it, especially on the way back. But for the most part, it was a very flat course. Anybody that doesn’t like hills, this is definitely the race for you.
There was more than enough aid for people running the race, especially if you’re carrying your own water. There were 3 main aid stations. The first one is at the start-finish area, which had all kinds of food laid out, and some coolers where you could refill your water bottles. And then each of the two main loops had an aid station where you could hit it on the way out, and on the way back in.
My buddy and I just went out, ran at a comfortable pace the whole way. We stopped and chatted with people at the aid stations and didn’t worry about stopping for a few minutes here and there.
On the western side, there was plenty of company while we were running because all of the long-race people, as I’ve said, they were doing each of those western loops first before going to the eastern side. So we were constantly passing people, or getting passed, or crossing paths with people going in the opposite direction. And once we got to the eastern side, there were not quite as many people. We were still passing people, especially crossing people from the out and back, pretty regularly, but not nearly as often as we had been on the western side.
Then once we got to the finish line, you cross through. It was chip timed, so you were able to just go through. They had your name come up, and the race director Rick was there cheering everybody in, giving you your finisher’s medal.
So once you’ve finished, you had full access to the aid station again. All the cars were parked right there at the race HQ, so it’s easy to get in and get some dry clothes on.
The weather was very nice for the run. It was a little bit breezy, and it was nice and cool down in the 30′s. The original forecast had called for it to be the same temperatures but raining, and that would have been really uncomfortable. But given that it was sunny out, it was actually quite pleasant to run.
John and I both ran 3:33 for our finishing time. We both had a good time, and I’m hoping that schedule works out so that I could get back next year and maybe run that 100 Miler that I wasn’t able to do this year.
If I can make it out there again next year, then hopefully I’ll see you there, and if not you can just check RunToWin.com and find out where I will be running.