Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Finished My 49th Marathon State - New Jersey!

It was with great relief that I finally finished a full marathon in New Jersey. This was my 49th marathon state and I'm gearing up for #50 in a few weeks in Newport, Oregon. But New Jersey was a pretty big deal too. It was not my first attempt at a marathon in the Garden State. Before my 4/26/15 finish, my New Jersey record showed one DNS (did not start), one DNF (did not finish), one canceled race, and one drop to a shorter distance race.

Scot's pic of the 2015 New Jersey Marathon medal on Long Branch Beach

It all started in 2012 when I was registered for the Atlantic City Marathon. I canceled my appearance at that race when my grandmother died and I flew home for her memorial service. The good people of the Atlantic City Marathon allowed me to defer my entry to the following year, but that was my first attempt at New Jersey, which didn't happen.

I couldn't run 2012 Atlantic City, but I did run 2012 Monster Mash Marathon in Delaware in memory of my grandma

Then in the spring of 2013 I was registered for the inaugural Liberty Run Marathon in Jersey City, which was canceled by the race director two weeks before the race. Apparently, they failed to secure the permits they needed from the city. After some time and a bit of hassle, Scot and I received refunds for our entry into that race, but that was my second attempt at New Jersey, which didn't happen.

There was no 2013 Liberty Run Marathon, but we did 2013 Vermont City Marathon that weekend instead, and celebrated Maricar's 100th marathon with lots of friends

In August 2013 I registered for the Wildcat Ridge Romp 50K, part of the New Jersey Trail Series. I knew it would be a technical trail but the time limit was 12 hours, so I wasn't too worried about it. But that trail proved to be a beast. We were scaling boulders and downed trees across steams, very steep ascents, and a lot of thick gravel in some areas. It was an injury waiting to happen, and when I took more than 3 hours for my first of three 10 mile loops, I decided to stop while I was ahead. I had important marathons scheduled the following weekend out west, and I could not risk an injury. I was given a finish time for the 10 Miler, but that was my third marathon (or greater) attempt at New Jersey, which didn't happen.

On the "course" at 2013 Wildcat Ridge Romp; that was not the most technical section

Then it was October 2013 and time for me to use my deferred entry into the Atlantic City Marathon. The problem was that I was running with severe plantar fasciitis. I'd run through the pain at several other marathons because they were in states I had to fly to, and travel was already booked and paid. Before I even started Atlantic City, my foot was in a bad way. But I was ready to try. I felt somewhat OK by the halfway point, so I pushed on into the second half of the course. But I was slowing down and needing to walk more and more to relieve the excruciating foot pain. By Mile 19 I decided I'd tortured myself enough. I was not going to finish within the course time limit at the rate I was going, and it wasn't worth putting 7 more miles of damage on my foot. I dropped out. That was my fourth attempt at New Jersey, which didn't happen.

Scot and me on the boardwalk during the 2013 Atlantic City Marathon, when I still thought I would finish

By the end of 2013, New Jersey had officially become my Nemesis state. I decided it would be a good one to save for last. I didn't schedule New Jersey at all in 2014 and worked on finishing my other states. At the end of 2014, I only had two states to go: Oregon and my dreaded New Jersey. So, 2015 would be the year. But there aren't a lot of major road marathons in New Jersey. And I didn't want to wait until late in the year to finish my 50 states. Schedule-wise it worked out best to run the New Jersey Marathon in April and save Oregon for #50 in May.

Scot and I drove up to New Jersey on the Saturday before the race and were treated to excellent hospitality by fellow Maniac and 50-Stater Peggy. We spent some time at the expo at Monmouth Park, where the race would start in the morning. Then we had dinner with fellow Maniacs that night.

Monmouth Park, a horse racing track, and the location for the expo and the starting line

A small but nice Maniac dinner

In the morning, Peggy's father Al drove us to the start so we didn't need to worry about parking a car. My car was parked at the finish, so we would be taken care of on that end. We found a few Maniacs for the pre-race picture, but I wasn't able to find everyone I wanted to see. People were still parking or standing in port-o-potty lines right up to the start.

Not your usual Maniac pre-race pic; here we are with a Long Branch Police cruiser; the cop was nowhere in sight

I didn't run with Lisa, but it was nice to see her at the start

We took off, and I decided I would do my best to stick to consistent run/walk intervals for the duration of the race. I skipped the first walk break because it came so early when there was still a heavy pack of runners. Otherwise, I did a good job with the intervals.

The course ran through many residential areas and it was hard to tell when one township ended and another one began. We saw some water (bays and lakes) a few times early in the race, but I was looking forward to the final miles along the ocean.

Early in the race we ran past this row of flowering shrubs

Jennifer found me shortly before the full/half split; we'd met last June at Grandma's Marathon

Peggy's parents were awesome spectators; it was nice to see some friendly faces
And here's the photo Peggy's mom took of me and Magenta the Road Trip Flamingo

I was starting to fade in the second half, my lack of training showing. Yes, I know, I had all these great training plans...but I didn't follow them. I never really got back on track after being sick over the holidays...and then the bad weather came...  So, I was under-trained, but I knew I would finish. I just had to keep using my run/walk intervals. I fell into step with Maniac Brooke and we kept each other company for a while. But I slowed down. My run intervals were getting slower and my walk intervals were getting longer. I didn't have an injury. The weather was not too hot. The course was not too challenging. I was simply under-trained.

In Asbury Park; the mustached character is called Tillie

Some nice beach homes (ocean is just to the left)

I knew I'd make it though. I hadn't run a full marathon since January, but I'd run some half marathons, and I was determined to complete New Jersey on my fifth attempt. I eventually reached the portion of the race that was on the boardwalk. I love running on wood. It's soft and has a nice spring to it. I loved the boardwalk and the spectators there. At one point, I was stopped by a couple of cyclists that came to wish me luck and pass on a message from Scot, who was ahead of me on the course. That felt nice. Then, after the boardwalk there was a boring section through some neighborhoods. I was no longer with Brooke, so I saw simply focused on finishing. Eventually, I got to the last leg of the race, which was back on the ocean. I knew this was it. I just had a couple miles, or less, to go and then I could FINALLY cross off New Jersey. And I did.

With Scot (and Magenta) at the finish; New Jersey is MINE!
With Brooke at the finish

Thanks to Peggy for the chocolate 49 for my 49th state!

Scot and Peggy (who had run the half marathon) were waiting for me. I also saw fellow Maniac Tracey at the finish, and Brooke came in not far behind me. Scot, Peggy and I grabbed some food at the nearest restaurant and chatted for a while with Sutah. Later, Peggy took us to The Lighthouse for Italian ice before we headed back to Peggy's place for showers before we hit the road. It was a quick trip, but fun and most of all - I finished my 49th state!

4 comments:

  1. Yeah to getting that bad boy DONE!!!!

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    1. Thanks! I have to admit, I went into it with doubt simply because of my New Jersey track record. Glad it's over!

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  2. Nice job. Your 49th was my first but seems we each enjoyed it.

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