Hey, all! So, I’m back with another race recap of last weekend’s Rutgers Unite Half Marathon in New Brunswick…because it’s spring, and some people get a little bit overzealous and sign up for a whole bunch of races without thinking things through…
I can also report that Todd and I both have a new half marathon record for our worst finish time to date. Much like I was having lady issues for our last half marathon, this time, it was Todd who was sick. (Not with lady issues, though. Obviously.)
He had been sick all week with some sort of cold or sinus issues or who knows what, and was dealing with a fever and headaches and all kinds of snotty/coughy goodness. Though he had started feeling a little bit better by the time race day rolled around, let’s just say that I had a bit of deja vu from our Rock n’ Roll USA experience — I got to play the role of cheerleader again!
I won’t say too much about the “expo” on Saturday because it was practically non-existent…a handful of vendors with a miniscule amount of merchandise. It was pretty pitiful, and I’m not really sure how they could even call it an expo.
We did get our bibs, a mug, and our race shirts, which are the same brand/quality as the April Fools Half Marathon — not the best, and unfortunately, they wouldn’t even let us trade sizes when Todd wanted to swap for a large. They supposedly only ordered “an exact amount of shirts”…even though race registration was still open and, to my knowledge, last-minute registrants were getting shirts. Hmmmm. Interesting.
On Sunday morning, we parked in a garage near the finish line and took a handy shuttle to the start, which was a breeze. After port-a-pottying it up, we made our way to the starting line. It was supposed to climb into the 70s that day, and it was already warming up — after running in the frigid cold for months and months and months, it might has well have been a 90-degree summer afternoon. I knew I’d be a hot, sweaty mess by the time the morning was over.
The race included an 8K and a half marathon, so we were joining a total of about 6,000 runners that morning. I knew that Todd wasn’t feeling great, but he didn’t have much of a choice…at that point, you can either run the race, or drop out and eat the $100 registration fee. So, our plan was to take it slow and enjoy the sights. He went to Rutgers and I knew the reason he wanted to do this race so much was to show me around, so what better way to do it than a half marathon that takes you through three different campuses, right?
He gave me an abbreviated tour on Saturday after the expo — which was interesting, because Rutgers’ ENORMOUS campuses and city-like environment was nothing at all like my liberal arts college education at the private Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, with its tiny campus and small town atmosphere.
The race was going to take us through three of the campuses, including some renovations to Livingston that he had never seen, and through the park that I ran through for last year’s Miles for Music 20K.
The race began at 8am and we started out around a steady 10-minute/mile pace. I could tell after the first mile that he was going to have a really hard time. He was already coughing and pulling tissues out of his pocket every couple of minutes, and he told me he was feeling tired and had no energy whatsoever. I tried to keep his mind off the way he was feeling with some chit-chat and my usual brand of hilarity.
It wasn’t exactly going to be a walk in the park for me, either. My legs were DEAD. I don’t know if it’s all the consecutive races or my lack of recovery time after marathons this year or the fact that I’m back to karate and taking Thai Kickboxing and Taekwondo classes at least 2-3 times a week — including the days before the race — but my body is just NOT cooperating with me anymore.
I feel as though my mojo is back in that I WANT to run, but every time I lace up my sneakers, it only takes about a mile or two before I can feel just how tired my body is. It’s frustrating. My legs are heavy and I just can’t find my groove. I want to go faster, but I just can’t. I can’t even remember the last time I could comfortably hold a 9-minute/mile the way I used to. Even if Todd was in tip-top running condition that morning, I couldn’t have gone much faster. For the majority of the race, we were averaging somewhere between a 10-11 minute/mile when we were running.
As we made our way through the Busch campus, and then Livingston, and then back to Busch, it was already starting to feel like the longest 13.1 miles ever. I felt okay, but my legs were ridiculously heavy (and it was getting HOT). I sensed that he wasn’t doing too well, either. We ran between water stops and only stopped to walk to hydrate and take our Clif Bloks, and I have to be honest…I was really, really looking forward to each water stop.
They were well-stocked with water and Gatorade and lots and lots of volunteers — mainly students. I thought the first half of the race was lacking in the spectator support that we both desperately needed, but fortunately, it got a little bit better as we made our way through the second part of the race (with the exception of the park). There were also a few bands performing along the second part of the course.
By the time we were headed into the park, we were both dragging. He told me he was getting a headache and his lethargy was getting worse, and I was just ready to STOP. RUNNING. But I kept trying to keep his mind off how he felt, mainly by asking him “so, what are we looking at now?” I’m sure he loved that.
We ended up taking a few extended walk breaks in the park, and a million years later, started making our way back to College Avenue, where the finish line was located.
The last few miles went on…and on…and ON…but, finally, we crossed the finish line.
The post-race goodies weren’t too shabby, and included pre-packed bags of random treats like chips and bananas and those uncrustable PB&J sandwiches.
And, much to Todd’s delight, we were also given soft pretzels (his favorite)! He seemed to perk up a bit after he ate, haha. I was super proud of him for choosing to run that morning and finishing the race, despite how crappy he was feeling — that’s the mark of a true crazy runner for you.
Even though it was a rather warm day, I was excited to enjoy some hot chocolate after the race.
All of the runners ate and hung out (and stretched…and napped…) in “the quad” after the race, which was nice. It also made me miss college real, real bad, not gonna lie. It’s still an entirely different campus environment than what I had, but it definitely made me think that I wouldn’t mind going back and doing it all over again.
Overall? The race had lots of energy and decent spectator support, and if you’re a Rutgers alum (or just a fan in general), then I’d say it’s definitely worth doing. I know if FDU ever sponsored a race on campus, I’d be the first one to sign up. Even though he was sick, I do think Todd enjoyed taking a little walk (er, run) down memory lane.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the medal, but I did like the 8K medal — which was actually quite a bit larger than ours! Obviously, it wasn’t the best day for either of us to be running, but I did have fun. (And, Todd is feeling quite a bit better now, so all is well there).
Now, fortunately, we have a few weeks off until our next half marathon: the Superhero Half Marathon in Morristown. My plan is to take it easy. Now that it’s FINALLY getting warmer, my bike is going to come out of hiding, and I’ll still take my karate classes, but as far as running…I’m taking it one step at a time. (No pun intended.)
Have you ever had to run a race while you were sick?
How do you recover in between races?