RACE RECAP: Runapalooza, Asbury Park Half Marathon

I’m still reeling from last week’s events in Boston, but I felt as though the only thing we runners can do to show our unyielding support for the victims and everyone affected by this tragedy — and a nice big F-U to the [insert expletive of your choice] who did this — was to just keep running.

IMG_6930So I ran my second half marathon this weekend, and, in a way, it sort of felt like it was my first — I completed my first half in Disney World, but I wouldn’t exactly call what I did “running a half marathon,” given the fact that I was stopping every half mile for photo opportunities! However, running the Miles for Music 20K in March gave me the confidence that I could actually RUN a half marathon…after all 12.4 miles is nothing to sneeze at, and I did manage to run the entire course with a sub-2 hour finish time, so I was feeling optimistic about my second attempt at 13.1!

I headed down to Asbury Park with my parents and sister at the ungodly hour of 6:30am on Saturday morning for Runapalooza, a race that benefits the Special Olympics of New Jersey; this year, some of the proceeds were being donated to help restore the Jersey Shore after the destruction Hurricane Sandy caused to our beaches.

We received several e-mails in the wake of the Boston Marathon advising us of security procedures — though I have to say, it was a little disheartening to see bomb-sniffing German Shepherds all over the place — and asking that we don blue and yellow to show our support. There were even blue and yellow ribbons and hairbands available for runners at bib pick-up, which I thought was really nice. I also pinned the Runner’s Unite for Boston race bib from RunJunkees on my back, and saw that lots of other runners had done the same.

I had to pick up my bib on race day, as I really don’t live close enough to Asbury Park to make the driIMG_6941ve twice in two days, nor far enough that I felt the need to get a hotel for the night. Those picking up their bib on the day of the race had to make a mandatory $5 donation to the Special Olympics of New Jersey; though I sort of resent the idea of being forced to shell out even more money (after my $75 registration fee!) just to pick up my bib, I was perfectly fine with writing a small check for a good cause.

The race also included a small expo — I know I’ve been completely spoiled with attending a runDisney race expo as my first! — and runners were awarded with a free beer afterwards (which I skipped…I hate beer). There were bagels and yummy mini muffins and bananas and other goodies to help us re-fuel afterwards.

IMG_6948It was pretty much perfect racing weather, other than being hit with a few strong gusts of wind (fine when it’s behind you, not so fun when you’re running AGAINST it!), and the course ran through lots of local neighborhoods with some lovely ocean views. It was unfortunate that a large section of the race took place on a main street, in traffic, where I had to run on the sidewalk at times…not an ideal option when it comes to preventing runner’s knee and other unnecessary aches and pains. However, everything was really well organized and there were plenty of volunteers to help cheer us on.

The race course usually runs on the boardwalk, but I knew they had adapted this year’s course to accommodate for the fact that, unfortunately, so much of the boardwalk was destroyed by the hurricane. I was definitely a little disappointed that we only had the opportunity to run on the boardwalk for the last quarter mile or so of the race — although it definitely was a nice way to bring us all home! — but, of course, that’s not the race organizers’ fault.

I went out pretty fast (which, for me, is about an 8:30 pace), and I held that for about the first two miles. I felt great, and my foot really wasn’t bothering me all that much, so I decided to juIMG_6996st go with it. I usually struggle with just how conservative to be during races, so this time I tried to push myself a little harder, and kept a close eye on my pace to ensure that I was holding about a 9:15 for the majority of the middle miles.

I was really enjoying the race and the first 10K seemed to fly by…but it always seems to be somewhere around mile 11 that I begin questioning WHY THE HELL I DO THIS TO MYSELF. I choked down a few Clif Bloks every few miles, but my energy really starts to dip in that last 5K…and like my first half, it was right around that point when I started being hit with stomach cramps that would. not. go. away. I wouldn’t allow myself to walk unless I was making a quick stop for water, so I’m thinking maybe I need to adopt a new strategy or continue experimenting with my race day fuel, since this isn’t the first time I was forced to slow down in the final miles of a longer race due to stomach issues.

As I was struggling with stomach pains and fatigue in the last 5K, I couldn’t help but think of all the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. There were, of course, reminders of Boston IMG_7146everywhere, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one running with a heavy heart on Saturday. Thinking about the victims and their families, and the marathoners who never got to cross that finish line, really helped me to dig deep and finish strong. Who was I to complain about a little stomachache or a sore foot or feeling “tired?” Running is an incredible gift, and I was determined to run this race for all of those who can’t.

The good news was that I proved to myself ONCE AND FOR ALL that my 3:30 Disney Princess Half Marathon finish time can purely be attributed to my shenanigans on the course (still no regrets!) because I finished under my best-care scenario goal time of 2:05. My official chip time was 2:03:25, and I was beyond thrilled with the accomplishment…especially given my recent foot issues. Interestingly enough, my foot felt slightly sore in the first mile or two, and thenIMG_7167 the pain disappeared for the duration of the race, only to come back as soon as I started walking around after crossing the finish line. After some research into this phenomenon on-line, I’ve decided to try ONE MORE ridiculous self-treatment option — something so obvious as adjusting THE WAY I TIE MY SNEAKERS — and resting for a few days before sucking it up and seeing a doctor.

I’ve already submitted my shiny new half marathon PR to the folks at runDisney for Dumbo Double Dare…fingers crossed that it lands me in Corral A or B! :-)

Does anyone have any tips on how to fight fatigue and finish strong in those last few miles?


  1. Way to go! You look so happy and satisfied. And it looks like you got an awesome sweatshirt from the race?
    I was wondering if you had signed up for the Rutgers half or not. I will say that part of the Rutgers course went through Johnson Park and I was SO OVER it when I had to run that same portion we had run 3x in the Miles for Music (I also live close and do a lot of training runs there).
    I notice a lot that I have a little bit of nagging pain at the beginning of a run or a race that dissipates as I move on. Not sure if that is good or bad, but it works for me. I just make sure I stretch really well after the run.

    • Thanks, Amy! I really enjoyed the race…and the sweatshirt, believe it or not, was in the clearance bin of race shirts that the club was selling from previous years; there was one hoodie left, in my size, and I was super excited about it! haha

      I didn’t end up registering for the Rutgers half because it pretty much came down to the two options, and I thought it would be cool to run at the shore. Also, my dad grew up in Asbury Park, so I thought it could be a nice little family outing if I did Runapalooza instead. ;-D

      That sucks about the Johnson Park course! I definitely wouldn’t have been thrilled about that, either…Miles for Music was fun and all, but that race taught me to look for courses that aren’t loops of the same park/area, haha.

      I’m glad to know I’m not the only one with pain issues like that…I was just surprised that it was actually going away as I ran, as opposed to getting worse! I’m horrible at stretching, so I know that’s something I need to start focusing on!

    • That is AWESOME! Thank you so much for sharing this; I love how detailed it is, with the smaller goals, like you said. I am definitely serious about the sub-2 hour half…I know it will probably take me a couple of attempts, but I will absolutely be trying out this plan! Thanks again! :-D

  2. LOVE the pics, you looked happy the whole time!!! Great time as well, you go girl!

  3. Yay! Congrats on a great finish time! You are so stink’n cute and I love your 13.1 headband. I can’t wait to sport one of those myself.

    • Thank you so much. Jodi! I had a great time…and was actually quite surprised by my finish time! Aw, thanks — it’s a BondiBand. I am TOTALLY obsessed with them, I won’t even tell you how many I’ve collected already…lol. But, yes, the 13.1 headband is especially meaningful! :-D

  4. WOW, way to go! What a fantastic finishing time!! And I love the headband, so great! :) I’m jonesing for the day that I can put a 13.1 sticker on my car. I’ll probably buy a pile of stickers and put them on everything :)

    • Thanks so much! It was such a fun race. I know EXACTLY what you mean…once you accomplish your first half, you want the whole world to know it — I have tons of “13.1″ gear already, and this is only my second! ;-D

  5. GREAT time! And I hope it lands you in Corral A or B too :0)

  6. Congrats on your second half! You look way too happy to be running a race; love it!

  7. came across your page doing a search for this race and I had to read about your experience! First off, CONGRATS!!! great job and you should be so proud!! :)

    Second, you asked for tips and as a 41 year old woman who has only been running for 2 years and racing the last year, I have been so lucky to train with some of the best runners! I am completing my third 1/2 marathon (PR: 1:42) next week and just completed my 2nd full marathon (time: 3:46) last week. Those last couple miles will get easier with experience! The more long runs you do, the better your body will adapt to that milage. Also, SPEED WORK! Speed workouts go a long way! Once per week incorporate speed work in your training, Yasso 800s, strides and/or do 7 out of 10 of your training miles at your 1/2 marathon pace. Has helped me tremendously!

    Best of luck in your running!!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks so much, Suzanne! Glad you found me! :-D

      Thanks for your tips — you are wicked FAST! That is AWESOME. I’m definitely not the best with speedwork, and I know that’s something I need to work on! I’m definitely going to take your advice as I train for races this fall. Thanks again!

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