Marathoner Dailies


New Jersey Marathon Race Report (Read 13 times)


    This was my spring goal race.  I hadn't done a marathon in three years, and this was my attempt to PR and to get back to Boston.  I knew I was in better than PR shape, so my goals were to BQ, (C) PR (2:47:57), (B) 2:40:00, (A) 2:37:19 (6:00 pace).  I knew my A goal was a stretch, but I wanted something in case I was feeling really good at 20.  Also, I forgot to turn off the auto-split.  Some of the splits are off because it autosplitted at 1 mile which was short of a mile marker that I didn't catch.  I corrected it where I could, but it still looks weird sometimes. Oh well!



    I woke up at 5:15, 2:45 before race time, and went for about a .75 mile very easy run (5-6 min).  Came back and got everyone up and drove to the race.  I got there with a lot of time although I had to walk the last half mile.  The weather was almost perfect - high 40's and overcast.  The only problem was the wind, but the forecast said 8 mph ENE, which would have been a cross-wind for most of the course, and not too strong.  Theoretically I was in the elite program due to my HM PR.  I was really excited about that because there's no way I'll ever actually deserve that, but it apparently was in name only which was disappointing.  However, it was a small race so there wasn't much of a crowd and things like porta potties and bag drop off were easy.  I had a bagel with some peanut butter (ew), a banana, a cliff bar, some Gatorade and some water, and a gu about 15 minutes before the start. I did about another .75 miles very easy to warm up, then some active stretching, and some easy strides of maybe 80m.  We got into the corrals, heard a bugle, then Born to Run started and we were off.


    Miles 1-5 6:06, 6:08, 6:10, 6:05, 6:07

    I think I led the race for about a half step which was cool, but then I got a hold of myself and let the eventual winner gap me.  My legs were feeling good and the early pace felt insanely easy (thank god, I was worried).  My goal pace was 6:05 and I was very surprised to go through the mile marker almost exactly on pace.  At mile 1 I was technically in third, with Oz Pearlman (winner in 2:28) with a gap, someone in between him and me, and a pack of maybe 6-7 behind me sheltering themselves from the wind.  After the mile marker a guy named Corey (I found out later) came up next to me, and a pack of 3 of us separated.  Also I almost immediately heard footsteps and two guys went past saying they were shooting for a 2:32, which put our group in 5-7.  Nothing much changed during miles 2-5.  The pace stayed really easy.


    Miles 6-10 6:07, 6:14, 5:47, 5:51, 5:51

    We started passing the half marathoners (they started about an hour before and went along the same course through 11) which was cool.  It made me feel like I was going faster than I was.  It was very cool hearing them cheer us on as we went past.  I was getting a bit frustrated that we were off pace so I took the lead of our pack a few times, but at first managed to restrain myself and didn't push too hard.  At 8 we turned south though and I lost my patience.  Corey and I dropped the third member of our little pack, who I frankly thought was going to drop earlier than that, and went on our own.  I wasn't trying to speed up this much though, I was surprised by the splits and tried to slow down at the beginning of 8-10.  The wind was pushing us stronger than I thought it was.  We started drawing up on the guy in 4th and were very close by the end of 10.


    Miles 11-15 5:57, 6:18, 5:54, 5:43, 5:55

    We passed 4th place in the 11h mile.  We also left the half marathoners.  There were still a bunch of spectators in mile 11, which was pretty close to the finish, but soon we left them too and were running alone.  The pace still felt incredibly easy and we were still talking to each other.  My legs felt awesome and I was telling myself to hold on until 19 when I could make a move.  I passed the half exactly on 2:39 pace at 1:19:30 (according to my watch, official time was 1:19:28, but I'll let that go).  My coach told me that 12-15 would start feeling hard, but it never really did.  The only tough parts were 2 out and backs where we went west and then back east.  The east parts were noticeably harder due to the wind.  I would tuck behind Corey, or at least on his shoulder.  But the rest felt totally fine.


    Miles 16-19 6:02, 6:02, 5:51, 6:34

    I was still feeling great.  We were running in 4-5th, and I had plenty of spring in my legs and visions of turning it on once I hit 19.  My coach had told me to wait until 21 to go but I was losing any semblance of patience.  It's a miracle I didn't go early.  At 18 I thanked Corey for running with me as I hadn't expected there to be anyone at my exact pace. He returned the thanks and said we should finish together.  I told him that I was going to kick his ass (hey, it's a race!) but whoever finished first should wait after the line.  He seemed like a nice guy.  However, the break came right after that.  Some cones started dividing the road and we weren't sure what side to go on.  We chose the right.  Then the cones started being connected by caution tape, and then they turned left up a hill and ended in a bridge with us on the outside.  We had to run up a grass hill and hop over the tape.  It hurt at 18.  When I landed I felt my left hamstring clutch up, then release.  It wasn't that bad but the main effect was making me afraid of my hamstring.  I REALLY didn't want that to cramp up - It was one of the things I was worried about before the race.  I was still feeling so easy at this point that cramps hadn't entered my mind, but now I was nervous.  Corey must have had it worse though because he fell back about 5-10 seconds.


    Then, during 19, we turned back north and I realized how much the wind had been helping us out.  It was like coming to a standstill! Totally demoralizing.


    Miles 20-25 6:16, 6:18, 6:24, 6:34, 6:38, 6:53

    The wind was seriously bumming me out.  Plus, I knew I wasn't running as well as a few miles before.  I was in 4th, but I didn't expect it to last.  My legs still felt ok, but whenever I tried to stretch them out and really get into a stride I would feel either my left hamstring or my right calf catch up.  During 20 I saw the guy that often joins me at the end of workouts.  He was pacing a buddy to 3:05.  He had apparently missed seeing 1st place on the other side of the out and back, since 1st was too far ahead, and he told me I was in third, about 30 seconds down from second.  I think the actual third place guy was more like a minute ahead though.  The frustrating part was that I was still lucid through this.  I feel like I had a limiter on myself rather than feeling continuous cramps that were slowing me down.  At 22 two guys passed me looking really strong, so I was running in 6th.  I just kept plugging along and slowly clicking off the miles.


    Mile 26.2 6:44 pace

    Apparently I passed my family during 26.  I thought I was still pretty aware but I totally missed them.  Here is the sign my son was holding up for me:



    Not sure how I could miss that! As I ran past he apparently said "Go Daddy Go!" and I REALLY wish I had heard it! I wasn't feeling too bad though.  I think my watch was acting up a bit, because I think my pace was a bit faster at the end than recorded.  I finished strong for 6th place in 2:42:33.



    My legs hurt like hell! Other than that I was ok though. I congratulated the winners who were having their victory photo taken, found Corey who finished in 2:45 (his first marathon), took a crappy picture, and staggered off.  I'm happy that I PRd and that I didn't walk (during my first in NYC I walked 4 miles, and in my 2nd I came to a stop after mile 26), but I was pretty far off my goal.  My coach thinks salt tabs could help me. I tend to agree because the pace felt incredibly easy just about the whole race.  I never felt like I was pushing it.  The other conclusion would be that I should have pushed harder.  I think the wind cost me about 15 seconds/mile once we turned north.  Anyway, I'll take a big PR, and try to figure out what to change for next time! I ended up winning my age group and got a really cool trophy, but I don't have a picture right now.  I'm proud of it because when else in my adult life am I going to win a trophy?  Anyway, sorry for the long report and thanks for getting all the way though!

      That picture gave me my first laugh of the day.  What a great effort and time...congrats on your PR!


        Great race report!


        So, a PR and a BQ-20, right?  (Since the men's open time is 3:05, sub 2:45 gets you in assuming they don't change anything for 2014).  Congratulations!


        I've always been curious about how runners end up running with one another during a race so I thought it was interesting how you can Corey ran together but then you have to make a decision when/whether to drop him.  It IS a race!  Good call.  Smile


        How could they not having someone at the split telling you which way to go?!  I remember the mix up you had at the 10 miler a while ago.  I bet that gave you a bit of a panic attack.


        Wind is evil.  Wind at the end of a marathon is diabolical.  I'm sorry it sapped your energy like that but you still ran a strong race.


        Do you think the muscle soreness was due to an electrolyte issue?  I'm just wondering why your coach was suggesting salt.


        And, your son is adorable!  He looks so happy to be cheering on his dad.

        “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the fight in the dog. – Dwight D. Eisenhower


        My blog is JT Running DC.  It's awesome.

        mostly harmless

          Wow!  What a great race and thanks for writing up this report!  I'm sorry you didn't make your goal time. Wind like that so late in a race just sounds horrible.


          Making a wrong turn on a course doesn't happen to us mere mortals, we just follow everyone else. Smile

            Wow! What a wonderful RR and a fabulous race. You're seriously fast and I was just happy to have started in the first corral at my last FM ... I can't imagine being at the lead if only for a few strides.


            It sounds like you ran a really smart race and I greatly appreciate you describing your strategy and how you ran along with Corey through the middle miles. It must have been great to have someone to run with when you separated from the "chase pack."  I also can't believe they didn't have someone (or at least an arrow) to guide you to run on the left side of those cones. Isn't it strange how a little thing like hopping the tape would be a non-event at mile 3, but at mile 18 it becomes HUGE!


            You also did a very nice job on holding things together as you balanced running fast with avoiding cramps as you finished battling through the wind. I also completely understand your lucid barrier during the last couple of miles in the race ... I find myself doing the same thing where I'm focusing so much on running that my surroundings get blurred out. Though you don't remember hearing your son I always wonder if those things filter through subconsciously.


            Again, congratulations on a fabulous race, PR and AG win. I can't imagine being able to run THAT fast for the whole 26.2.


            BTW, that's an absolutely adorable photo of your son!

            Train smart ... race smarter.

            Just B.S.

              Congrats Jack! You are amazing runner and your little guy is just so freakin' cute!

              Bad Ass

                Congratulations!  Awesome performance.  You're mighty fast!  I think you could've broken 2:40 had it not been for the wind, so great job!

                Damaris, Marathon Maniac, Ultra Runner, INKnBURN Ambassador


                "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."

                It's always fucking hot in Miami!


                Go figure

                  I'm glad we got to read a RR from you! I only hate you a little for saying the pace felt easy ha. It is a shame that the tape hopping took something out of you, especially since it's hard to quantify and you don't know how much it cost you. I wonder if those miles that dipped to the 5s had been 6 evens how you would have finished. That's what I think is so cool about the marathon: the pace is supposed to feel easy, and you have to figure out just how much you can push it. As funny as it sounds at your speed, you're really still learning from a strategy standpoint given that this was your 3rd. Each of my marathons have been run smarter than the last, and I'm sure yours will be too.


                  Congratulations on a great time and high finish in tough conditions.

                  Trying to find some more hay to restock the barn


                    Thanks everyone! I agree I need some more experience racing marathons and learning how hard to go.  I was trying to slow down in the middle, but it felt so easy! I guess that's what happens.