Saturday, November 10, 2012

Trenton Half: Recap

Spoiler alert: NEW PR!!!!

Thank you very much Trenton Half!!!

Okay let's start from the beginning.

Woke up to my first alarm at 5:00am. I promptly downed a bottle of water and snoozed until my next alarm at 5:30 repeat procedure to 6:00 when I finally rolled myself out of bed (okay maybe I snoozed just a LITTLE bit more until 6:15 but same thing).

I had decided already that I was not going to eat anything before the race. I didn't want to chance it so I planned to just take one of the double caffeine gu's about 20 minutes before race time and take it from there.

Pretty uneventful getting ready as I had laid everything out the night before. I went down to the lobby around 6:45 with a water bottle of nuun to wait for the shuttle. The shuttle arrived around 7:00 and it was a short drive to the Trenton Thunder stadium where the race would begin and end.

This was the inaugural year for this half marathon (also a 10K and kids race - quite the ambitious undertaking!). I thought that they did a pretty good job considering. The half was capped at 2,500 and sold out. Not 100% sure on the numbers for the 10K but there were a lot of bodies there.

I had plenty of time when I arrived to find myself a nice spot and then just chill out, pin my bib, slap some body glide on eat a gu etc. the usual pre-race fun. Also was super exciting because a couple of IG followers were at the race and we met up! Hi guys!!! I love when blog/IG world collide with real life. And I LOVE the running community. Happiness.

So we met up, went to bag check and headed to corrals. At this time it was the proposed start time of 7:45 but it was clear from bathroom and bag check lines that there would be delays.

And delays there were...did I mention it was really COLD! I was wearing underarmour cold gear tights and a short sleeve NIKE tech shirt. I knew it was supposed to get to the low 50's today and I HATE being too warm. Well problem was that the race didn't start until almost 8:30. Which meant that I froze my behind off until then. My fingers and toes were going numb. It also meant that those 45 extra minutes or so which I had calculated I would be running and now delayed...I started the race having to go to the bathroom. So typical.

Run ALL the miles. I loved this sign and it appeared multiple times on the course.
While the delay was definitely annoying and a little bit frustrating, they had a DJ to keep the crowds pumped up and the announcer was amusing. The poor man kept thinking the race would be starting shortly and you could tell that eventually even he was like wellllll I SWEAR it will start. Soon. But when all was said and done, the time passed relatively fast, they had to close a hundred plus intersections (how nuts is that!) and for the first year for the race, they get some leeway on all of it.

So then, we were finally off and running. Late but ready to rock and roll. I knew from the start I was gunning to PR. I was running with my new friend who was looking to sub 2 hours. So she was going to pace with me. I started pretty much off the bat under 9 min miles. And pretty quickly hit my stride between 8:30-8:45 which just felt comfortable. I tried not to pay too much attention to my Garmin, I have learned that it can be your worst enemy. It stresses me out to look at it too much but I also appreciate having it.

There were also not mile markers at every mile (or if there were I did not notice them) nor time clocks so I didn't 100% know just how fast had gone out until at mile 4 I got my split and was at 34 minutes. Pretty much on track. Problem was, by mile 2 I was already struggling mentally with needing a pit stop because my tummy was NOT feeling great.

My first chance for a pit stop was at mile 5, but funny enough it had settled down and subsided and I thought I would be okay. Low and behold about a half mile past it the rumbling started again. At this time I knew I could PR and wanted to bank some time so that if and when I stopped I would still be able to beat my previous (1:54:57).

I should also mention that this half starts off in Trenton and crosses into Pennsylvania which was pretty neat! There is a lot of running on the highway in NJ but when we crossed over it was residential which was really nice. We had families out and kids high fiving, I liked the casual feeling of the race appreciated the new scenery and support.

The next few miles flew by. I was in a groove. I had somewhere along the line lost my running buddy but knew I was keeping a higher pace than she had planned so was not too surprised we split up. I was still feeling really good. Around mile 6 I wasn't breathing hard and started to push it a bit more. Mile 8 or so brought us into the park. This was where things started to go south. There were some up hills and on those, when I am pushing is when my stomach would start to kill. We get in and I see more port-o-potties but of course decided I do not want to stop because they are all full. This, was a mistake. We looped around and on the way out I literally had to stop short and focus as so not to have an "accident" (TMI but whatever if you are a runner, you KNOW the feeling most likely!).

After about 20 seconds or so got it under control and took off again. We hit flat road once again on the highway and things seemed to be going great again. We then hit mile 10 and I know I have not been pushing enough and start to open up my stride a bit more. At this point I want to race and get to the point where I am uncomfortable running. Well, this also coincidentally caused the point of no return for my stomach. Shortly before mile 11 hit I was forced to stop yet again to get things under control. Once I did and started up I KNEW I would need to stop. Low and behold like Christmas at the mile 11 rest stop there were bathrooms!! I literally sprinted up the on ramp and threw myself in one attempting to use it in record time. Overall I don't think that I lost too much time but still getting spandex on and off takes a little bit of work especially when sweaty!

I was out the door and now I was racing. The volunteers were trying to give me gatorade (I was not doing any gatorade/water/gu during the race) but I was all business now. 2 miles left. I was going for it. I got my pace to the low 8's and was now feeling like I was racing. Those final miles blurred together. The next thing I knew we were entering the stadium and rounding the field to the finish line. As I am approaching the finish I see the time turning to 1:54 and was trying to sprint. I knew I had a PR it would just be a matter of how much of one dependent on the time I crossed the start.

And just like that...we have this:

Minute and a half PR WITH a bathroom stop!
Definitely happy! But on the other hand...kind of sad. According to my Garmin my actual "moving" time is 1:51 - between the two dead stops I took and bathroom I lost a couple of minutes. Sigh. I need to be happy but of course I am my own worst critic. I could have pushed earlier, could have stopped for the bathroom earlier...but hind sight is always 20/20 as they say. I need to give myself credit where credit is due.

Overall, I have to say - it was a good race. Not just because I set a PR but I thought for being an inaugural year, the logistical nightmare that it was with road closures etc. that they did a great job. Swag bag was fantastic. Friendly volunteers. Water and gatorade stations were bountiful and well organized. And what a finish. As long as this fits in my race schedule next year, I will be returning. Bravo to everyone involved. And the moment of silence for all those effected by Sandy. I thought that was very classy. And appropriate.

Finish inside the stadium how fun!


  1. What a wonderful race recap! I was running the race with you, and that park got my stomach churning too. I looked for a port a potty briefly but then gave up. I just did some mental regrouping (and maybe some clinching? TMI!) and ran like hell to the finish. Congrats on your PR, that is so awesome! And Ill see ya at next year's race!

    1. Thank you! Clinching - oh how I tried! And failed. And laughed out loud reading that, because that is dead on what I was trying. One of these days my body and I will get on the same page with fueling for a race.