Sunday, March 7, 2010

E. Murray Todd Half Marathon Race Report

Looking around for half marathons that would serve as a training race for the NJ Marathon, I came across the E. Murray Todd Half Marathon in Lincroft, NJ. 8 weeks before the NJ Marathon, 30 minutes away from home and fit the bill. And the bonus...a scenic course through rural NJ's horse farms and country estates.

Before I give you a blow-by-blow account of the race and race prep, allow me to parade before you 2 new acquisitions, thanks to the Sneaker Factory gift card I won at the trail race last month. Of course, $20 only goes so far at a running store. DH threw in an additional $65 and I walked away like a kid on Christmas Day.
I got a pair of these compression socks (which I am wearing as I post this).
...these cool running capris, which were on sale... well as a bunch of GU and shot bloks. My wardrobe now has more running clothes than regular clothes.

I talked DH out of accompanying me to the race. He still has a bit of the flu left in him and standing in the cold air would only make him worse. The race website advised participants to "monitor local weather conditions closely and dress appropriately". Easier said than done. It was going to be a wonderfully sunny day, with a high of 53 degrees, but it was in the mid 30s when the race started. With a trace of guck still clogging my chest and the occasional cough, I gave this some thought, then settled on a pair of full-length running pants and the lightest long sleeve tee I could get away with.
Breakfast was peanut butter on a slice of whole wheat bread, a banana and green tea. The start of the race was at 9 a.m. but I reached the start (Brookdale Community College) at 7:30, because I wanted to sneak in 2 miles before the race...a 16-miler was on the cards today; 2 miles before and 1 mile after the race seemed manageable. I picked up the packet (cool cotton T-shirt, and they actually had a size 'Small'...wonder of wonders!!!), then ran a slow, 2 miles. Glenn arrived a little after 8. What with my flu and his inflammed sinuses, we had not run together in 3 weeks, so we caught up while we stretched.
We started at 9 am. There were over 400 participants (close to 600, we later found out) and we were a little boxed in, at the start. I would have been happy with a 8:30 pace, but the first two miles were sub-8:00. The pace felt comfortable, so I settled into it, figuring I would be forced to slow down as we encountered hills. Sure enough, there were hills...not huge ones, but several little ones. There were 4 water stops along the course, but I was longing for an energy drink and wished I was wearing my fuel belt...a bit of a nuisance during a race, but so convenient at times like this! I still hung onto an 8:04-8:11 pace, and I thanked all the hill runs and the spinning classes I had subjected myself to over the months. At Mile 7, as I was lumbering up a particularly tough hill, I got into a discussion with Joe, who had run this race 25 times before. His daughter had driven in from Boston to run this race...and the proud papa predicted a second place overall finish for her. I've found that the middle miles of a half marathon are always the hardest...particularly miles 6-10. Chatting with Joe made them infinitely easier. We parted at the next hill, which he assured me was the last one.
After that, I amused myself by focusing on the bucolic landscape. At one point, I was so zoned out, I couldn't take my eyes off the backside of a horse, casually taking an elaborate dump on the grass. The final miles of a race often tend to be more mental than physical. I was running hard, but not too hard...whenever I felt like slowing down a bit, I did; I deliberately suppressed my competitive nature and reminded myself from time to time that this was "just a training race".

I didn't have much kick left for the finish and didn't really care...I wanted to save a little energy for the final cool-down mile after the race. I finished in 1:45:48, not a PR, but pretty close. And the fact that I did it on a rather hilly course with no taper after 2 weeks of being sick, made me feel pretty happy with the result.
I met Joe's phenomenal running family at the finish (his daughter did finish second overall). I gobbled a peanut butter sandwich and a granola bar, gulped down some water and gatorade, stretched, then finished up with a very slow mile.
Finisher's Medal
I even managed to place second in my age category and got a pretty impressive plaque.


1:45:48 (8:05 pace)

Overall: 236 / 602

Women: 34 / 188

Age Group: 2 / 21 in 35 - 39 age group (well, other age groups were a lot more competitive, but that is not my problem now, is it?)

Bib: 292

Glenn did awesome, inspite of the clogged sinuses and his ITB acting up. It was the perfect day, overall.

I enjoy mid-size races, but local races have tremendous energy; I had a lot of fun at this one. And it's always nice to bump into people you know. At the finish, I ran into Paul, who I had worked with a few years ago. Paul is a triathlete, who has completed several Ironman competitions and has run the Boston Marathon 6 times. When I had been running for only a few weeks, I had casually announced to Paul one morning that I was thinking about running a marathon. The same afternoon, he spent a good hour in my office, walking me through training, nutrition, heart rate monitors and everything else I would need to train for a marathon. With Paul, there are no half-measures! Now, as he talked about a triathlon he was training for, a germ of an idea I have had for a while but not acted upon, slowly took root...a TRIATHLON sometime in the future? Now, I am realistic enough to know it will not be in the near future. First of all, I need a bike. Secondly, I badly need swimming lessons. I can swim, but my stroke and breathing need work and I am slow as molasses. But Paul overrode my objections...he assured me he had learned to swim when he was in his 30s. So, the seed has taken root. I may not do anything about it for several months, but as I sit here, cozy in my new recovery socks, typing up this post, it has become a little more than just an idea. I don't want to run less, but variety is what makes life more interesting and it would be fun to mix things up a bit. What do you say, my talented triathlon blog buddies? How long did it take you to make the transition? Was it worth the effort?

Last week's workouts:

Total miles: 40

Monday: 6 miles

Tuesday: 6 miles (1 mile w/u, 5 Yasso 800s - 800 m at 3:38-3:45; 800 m at 4:45-5:00)

Wednesday: 30 minutes on the stationary bike

Thursday: 6 miles (51:00)

Friday: 6 miles recovery

Saturday: rest

Sunday: 2 miles w/u, 13.1 (1:45:48), 1 mile c/d


Beth said...

Wow, great job! What a fantastic half marathon and you did it after you ran first, with no taper and everything. Very cool trophy, too, I must say. Yeah for the triathlon thoughts. You really just need to be able to swim well enough to make it through. You would be awesome!

Melinda said...

Awesome job on the race, particularly with having to deal with the flu the past weeks. I have a triathlon for you
It's at Sandy Hook in August and according my my friend who is a park ranger there, it is not all that competitive at all and you can even use a noodle to swim the 300 yards.

ajh said...

Wow you were awesome. Your stats are great and it sounds like you did just what you wanted. I so can't chat during a race, at least not for any length of time. Nice capris!

Marlene said...

Congrats on a great race and your AG placement!

Abby said...

Nice work! Sounds like a great race and a stellar performance. Rock the socks!

Scheri said...

Congrats! You did so well!!! The trophy is awesome :-)

Heather said...

Wow, great job on the half! Congrats.

Ali said...

Congrats on a great race, that's an awesome time.

Erica said...

WOW- you are incredible! Way to rock through that at an amazing pace...while still fighting off an illness! You're my hero ;) A tri! That would be awesome. I'd love to do one of those some day.

joyRuN said...

Congrats on an EXCELLENT "training race" with hardware to boot!!

You're sooo speedy - I'm green with envy over here.

X-Country2 said...

Woo hoo for the AG hardware!

Irene said...

For a "training" run/half marathon, and coming away with an AG placement, that's pretty sweet! Congratulations!

Roisin said...

Holy crap! You placed in your age group, AND came in well under two hours!?!? I am sooooooooo very jealous!

Christie said...

Wow! You did great. Congrats! Good luck with the rest of your training.

I Run for Fun said...

Thanks so much, guys. Thank you for the link to the tri, Melinda. You are tempting me! Are you interested at all? It might be fun to do if we started together!

lindsay said...

congrats on a strong race and the age group award! always fun to get a little recognition :)

hope hubs is feeling better!