The New Jersey coast is beautiful, unfortunately it rained the entire 26.2 miles and I was underdressed (I was trying to be minimalistic in my packing).
I have never been so cold during a race!
Other than that, it was a great marathon. Here’s my recap . . .
The New Jersey Marathon
The 20th annual Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon was held on May 1, 2016 in Longbranch, NJ. This marathon gets good reviews in regard to its course, organization and fans.
The race sent out good pre-race emails and communication. I drove 5.5 hours from Northern PA where my family lives to Oceanport, NJ.
The expo was held at Monmouth Park Racetrack (which opened in 1870) for a few hours on Friday afternoon and evening and all day Saturday. Or you could pay extra to get race day packet pick up. They also offered race deferment if you couldn’t run the event you signed up for this year.
It was a medium sized expo with a good number of vendors. I talked to Katie and David at the Generation UCAN booth and got a sample of the cinnamon bar and the new Chocolate energy flavor.
I also met up with MTA listener Stephen Banderfield who was pacing the 4:40 group. He’s a hard core runner who had just finished a 100 miler a couple weeks back. If you saw him at the race he was easy to spot with his psychedelic running outfit.
The race started at 7:30 am and they recommended that you get there early to avoid traffic congestion and to get through security. Since I purchased a $5 parking pass I parked in the Monmouth Park lot. It was then a quarter mile walk to the starting area.
You could only bring the clear plastic bag from the expo through security and they didn’t allow any bags in the finishing area either. Fortunately the lines moved briskly.
The pre-race set up was well organized and you could wait inside the main building or in a large open area with a good supply of port-o-pots. The lines were very short for these (which always gets high marks in my book). They also had a table of water set out for runners and offered a drop bag option for gear that you would want post-race.
The race corrals were well controlled with volunteers and there was a wave start with a horse racing bugle call before every wave. Even though the half and full marathon started together there wasn’t any course congestion and the pack of runners got thinner after the half marathon split off just before mile 12.
The course was a flat point to point course with just a couple overpasses which technically couldn’t qualify as hills. It went through beautiful neighborhoods and there were many spring flowers and trees in bloom.
There was a long out and back section with a lot of twists and turns from miles 17-21. We ran by The Stone Pony in Asbury Park which is a historic music club known for launching the careers of some famous musicians. We also ran through a building that was built on the boardwalk.
During much of the final miles you can see and hear the ocean. This is the first marathon that I’ve seen a dead crab out on the course. The race finishes on the Long Branch Boardwalk with beautiful ocean views. The time limit was 3:15 for the half marathon and 6:30 for the marathon.
The aid stations were located every 1.5 miles and were well stocked with water and sports drink. Three aid stations were had energy gels and bananas. The volunteers were all friendly and encouraging which really helped since the weather was dismal and there weren’t a lot of spectators out. They did have some DJ’s out playing music at various intervals. I fueled with my usual two servings of Ucan before the race and two that I carried in a small hand-held bottle.
Finish Line and My Experience
The weather was in the high 40’s at the start of the race with a light misting rain. Unfortunately I was not well dressed for the conditions even though I did have a throw away shirt which I wore until mile 5 (I spent the rest of the race cursing myself for not tying it around my waist).
My hands were cold and numb by midway through the race and my arms and legs were red with cold as I was wearing a singlet and running skirt (again, poor planning on my part). I was envious of all the people who were wearing gloves, jackets and anything that looked warm. I even eyed some of the throw away gear on the ground a few times but didn’t pick it up because it was soaking wet.
The rain stayed light to moderate for most of the race and there were some very windy sections, especially in the later miles by the ocean. I kept thinking that on a slightly nicer day that I would be loving the course.
This song kept me going.
My main goals going into the race were to finish, not anger my touchy hamstring and have fun. I think I accomplished about 1.5 of those goals.
My hamstring was hurting by mile 20 but it was so cold that I tried to limit my walking intervals for fear that I would freeze in place.
I distracted myself by observing people and seeing runners who were worse off than I was (including some getting into the ambulance, several men with bloody nipples, and one unfortunate woman with a code brown). A DJ was playing a song around mile 23 which I found to be a bit ironic. The chorus said something about “what to do when the love is gone.”
My finish time was 4:33:10 for my 44th marathon and 35th state.
Total number of runners:
- Marathon= 1,952
- Half= 4,018
- relay= 142
- 5k= 407
- Robert Dennis, age 30 of NJ, was the male winner in 2:33:16. In the women’s race, Greta Sieve, age 28 of NJ, was the winner in 2:53:06.
Trying to Get Warm
There wasn’t a very impressive spread of post-race food by the time I got there. I saw sports drink, water in these cool boxes, bananas, soft pretzels (which were hard and cold), squeeze packets of fruit/protein, salt water taffy and some bars that were gone by the time I got there. I was wishing for something warm to eat or drink. They didn’t have any heat sheets either which was a bummer as I was desperate to get warm. The medal was really nice with a spinner.
There was a changing tent for women and one for men. It felt good to get in some dry and warm clothes but my fingers were so frozen I had a hard time untying my shoes and getting into my compression pants and hoodie.
I met up with Anna and Maria post race- they came out from NYC to cheer me on despite the dismal day. Anna is a coaching client of mine who had originally signed up for the race but ended up deferring.
Massages were available post-race and there were vendors with other food options for sale. I didn’t really check any of this out because it continued to rain and I was very motivated to get back to my car and be warm and dry. There was about a half mile walk from the finish line to the shuttle buses. By the time I got on the bus and then from the bus to my car it felt like I had done a lot of post-race walking. I then had the 5.5 hour drive back to my sister’s house and of course it rained the whole way.
Running in the Rain
It helps to be prepared with more outfit options for varying weather conditions. If you’re traveling to a race it is important to bring more running gear in case of a weather change.
- With arm sleeves you can easily modify the warmth of your outfit and compression socks or sleeves can help with leg warmth.
- A thin pair of gloves can go a long way to keeping your hands warm (and you can even hang on to them if you’re unsure whether you’ll need them later)
- Wear layers! Throw away clothes are a must and a black garbage bag can help keep you warm up until the start. You can always tie the long-sleeve shirt around your waist if you’re unsure if you’ll need it again during the race. I saw some people who wore their garbage bags or rain ponchos the entire race.
- Wear a hat or visor to keep rain out of your eyes.
- Wear well fitting and tested running clothes.
- Extra wetness can be a recipe for more chaffing so apply extra anti-chafe ointment (Body Glide or the equivalent). I saw several guys with bloody nipples probably due to the cold and rain.