Once again we headed to New Brunswick for my second Rutgers Unite Half marathon. Waking up early we decided to head down to the start in New Brunswick .
Because of all the drama that happened in Boston just last week, there was a more pronounced security presence and a bit of more somber mood before the race, everyone in the running community could empathize and the race organizers encouraged us to show our support by wearing Boston colors. It was heartfelt to see all the folks coming together and remembering the victims of the Boston tragedy.
Rutgers Unite 13.1 course
The half-marathon course, is road race traversing most of Rutgers new Brunswick campuses.It starts near the Livingston campus, loops around to the Busch Campus, before crossing the river and finishing on College Ave. Some of the course highlights:
- Flat and Fast Course ( basically flat except for that one small rise at mile 11 but then it is downhill to finish).
- Aid Stations featuring gatorade, water and Hammer gel are located about every mile.
- Incredible, energetic volunteers including fraternities, sororities, bands, music and lots of support staff.
Running trio minus one
Sadly Duncan could not join us for this race because of family commitments, but while not there in person he was there in spirit and we look forward to seeing him next at the Newport 10k in a few weeks. So it was left to the two of us to duke it out. Christine had been in a bit of a running rut, and was looking to have a breakout performance, I myself was running well and was hoping to break my P.R. for the half, which I set on this course last year.
My race goals was to beat my previous half-marathon P.R. of 1:51:37 or better yet beating Christine’s P.R. of 1:50:25 , right now she holds the fastest half-marathon time of the three of us.. Before the race i was pretty confident I could do it, after my recent 10k performance I was feeling pretty good.
We parked the car near the finish (many lots labeled event parking make this easy to do) and hopped on a shuttle bus to the start.. as usual runners were milling around, lines at the porta potties were growing and today we had better weather than last year, it was chilly but crystal clear around 40f at te start. So we were ready and excited. Before the race a brief memorial song tribute for the Boston marathon was played, followed by the national anthem and then it was race time!
When the race started my initial goal was to go with the 8:00 pacer, and hang with him as long as possible. We started together and the first mile was relatively pedestrian pace of 8:50 this was a bit slower than I expected, but mostly due to the crowded start and wanting to warm up first. Christine dropped one of her water bottles and decided to go back for it and almost got trampled.. (Tip if you drop something at the start dont go back!) . The pace quickened from there with the next six miles being sub-seven. I managed to hop onto a very steady runner running along at about a 7:20 pace and stayed with him for the next 4 miles. The miles clicked off pretty quickly and I was feeling pretty confident. I was surprised to see how many sub-8 miles I was able to get through, before I knew it we passed the 8 min/mile pacer and slowly moved forward. I was pretty happy with my first 10k in about 47 minutes. My first slower mile happened around mile 7 the first of two turnarounds, where I got a chance to see Christine , who was about 0.5 miles back at this point.
This race is great because they have time clocks at every mile marker, and even though I was wearing a watch there’s something motivating about see the time clocks along the course.
The next three miles I hung in there putting in steady low 8 min/mile, around mile 8 the pacer passed me and slowly drifted forward. At this point I managed to keep him in my sight and it would stay this way until mile 10 the next turn around. Mile 10 as expected the first signs of fatigue started to creep into my legs, and I knew from this point forward it would be more of a struggle.
Also there are many water / aid stations, and this makes it very easy to hydrate and even get a gel.. This is how all half marathon’s should be run..
10 miles to Finish
After mile 10 the second turn around, I again spotted Christine moving up, she looked strong and we high-fived each other. As mile eleven approached I really began to feel fatigue, but I knew at this point if I just hung in there, I would break my P.R. on this course. So I trucked on.
Approaching mile twelve one of the last water stops, I briefly walked and took on some fluids. But now I was beginning to get severely fatigued, and when I started running again , I just didn’t have the same pep. As mile twelve passed, I knew it was only 1+ miles to go.
My legs felt very heavy and there was a constant grimace on my face. I struggled as I approached the last right hand turn onto the finishing straight of College Ave. Mile 13 seemed a lot longer this year, and like last year I was suffering rounding this park.
After I crested the last rise onto College Ave., it was all downhill and as the finish line crowds grew, I managed to maintain my pace, and with one final push finished the race. Surprisingly there was not time clock atop the finish line, very strange, so it was hard to judge my time, at the finish.
Christine came in a few minutes later, and was very happy with her performance.
- Try to train to minimize fatigue in later miles, I think there’s no simple way to fix this other than running a lot more, I currently average about 25miles a week.
- Confidence boost by being able to run so many consecutive sub-8 minute miles, I should be able to do my next 10k all sub-8 miles, which should result in a new P.R.
- Pearl Izumi race shorts left a nasty abrasion on my inners, need to look into that before using them for tri’s