TRENTON DOUBLE CROSS HALF MARATHON RECAP

trenton-half-logo

It’s been a long time since I have posted. I have run a few good races since my last post. Last month I did the Rock n Roll Brooklyn 10K but I will admit that my running has fallen by the wayside a little. Now, today marked the second year of the Trenton Double Cross Half Marathon. I had been looking forward to this race for a long time as it was recommended by Black Girls Run (BGR) AND because BGR was providing a special finisher medal to its members. So this race was a bona fide twofer bling fest. However, my training was hampered by my busy schedule and my last couple of runs did not look too promising. But I was determine to see this one through.

In addition to my running woes, there were a few things that gave me pause about how the race was going to go. First I realized late in the game that there was an actual host hotel that I was not staying in. I did seek out that information on the race website prior to booking a room at the Comfort Inn in Morrisville, PA. Apparently, the race coordinators added this information later. So my travel buddy and I wound up having to drive over to the host hotel to catch the shuttle bus to the race. Then after arriving a the hotel, I realized that I had left my watch at the Comfort Inn. Yikes. I NEVER run any race without my Garmin, much less a half marathon. I was completely freaked out and annoyed because if I was staying at the host hotel I would be able to retrieve my watch by just jumping on an elevator. The third problem was the shuttle buses, they seemed to have just one shuttle bus to take runners to the race location. This cause a little tension because there were hundreds of runners trying to get on one yellow school bus. And finally, I brought my “stomach medicine” to race and then forgot to take it. There will be no further exploration of that topic.

sad face

Anyway, we got to the race and lined up. It was freezing … well, almost. It was 33 degrees. As I was positioning myself at the start, I saw the five year old boy that was going to be running the half marathon. He had been getting a lot of press as he would be the youngest person to complete a Half. I was genuinely excited for the lad but not thrilled at the thought of being bested by a five year old. I moved further down in the starting chute and was happy to not have to look at boy wonder anymore. The anthem was sung by a Tony Bennett-esque man. He did a good job and then we were off.

trenton start

I was obsessing about starting too fast because I had no idea what my pace was. Early in the race I ran into Lisa from my BGR group and we ran together for about six or seven miles. She lives by the watch too and helped me with my pace. Also, I didn’t see a bunch of mile markers and had no idea how far we had run. When I finally asked Lisa what mile we were at in race, she said, “Five.” FIVE???? FIVE measly miles!!!! I was hoping she was going to say Eight. At that point we had passed many water stations and I figured were further along. Kudos to Trenton, I have never been so hydrated in my entire life.

Drank so much I turned into a cute White man
Drank so much I turned into a cute White man

Alright, that’s not really me. Now, if you are wondering why the race is called “double cross” it’s because the race starts in Trenton at the Arm and Hammer Stadium and then crosses (by bridge) into Morrisville, Pennsylvania and then it goes back to Trenton (by another bridge). The bridges were a little tough because the surfaces are uneven metal grates. By the time we got to the second bridge, most of the runners (including me) opted to run on the paved pedestrian walkway. Things were moving right along until mile 8, when I saw him. That five year old whizzed right past me at the water station. I had a near melt down. Lisa had to near slap me back into reality. I continued to run but was starting to feel really sluggish. It didn’t help that we¬†entered a park with a brutal hill. At this point I knew I couldn’t keep up with Lisa and just slowed it down a little. At mile 9 I gained my second wind. Oh yeah, I felt like I was really moving but I didn’t know for sure without my watch. I was right behind the little tyke. He looked so cute and strong. He was holding a woman’s hand (maybe his mother) and was doing his thing. I noticed that they didn’t seem to stop at the water stations. The woman had a hydration belt and they were most likely self fueling. I felt a little bad for trying to compete against a small child … BUT NOT THAT BAD!!! See yah kiddo. I passed him at around mile 9.5. My second wind left me at around mile 12. Which was the last mile marker on the course. This drove me near crazy because I had no idea how close I was to the finish. At one point, right at the stadium parking lot, the spectators were lined up and cheering. Believing I was right around the corner from the finish line, I sped up and began high fiving all the spectators. BRING ON MY MEDALS!!! I turned the corner and think I really heard a needle scratch a record. THERE WAS NO FINISH IN SIGHT. Disappointment does not begin to describe my feeling at that moment. Eventually I entered the actual stadium. There¬†were tons of spectators there and high energy but I still couldn’t see the finish line. When I finally saw it, I was so excited but couldn’t muster up a sprint to the finish. Other runners were flying by me but I didn’t even care. I trotted on through that finish line. The announcer proclaimed my finish. This was a really nice touch as this was a large race but they still managed to announce everyone as they crossed the finish line.

The Baseball Stadium Where the Race Ended
The Baseball Stadium Where the Race Ended

As I was looking at the stadium steps that I was going to have to walk up after running 13 miles, the crowd erupted. Five year old Anthony Russo had just crossed the finish line as the youngest person to complete a Half Marathon. AMAZING. And here’s the kicker, he beat me. When I checked the race results, his time was around a minute faster than my 2:23:11. Apparently, I crossed the start line way ahead of him. GOOD FOR ANTHONY!!!

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This was a good race and I wouldn’t mind doing it again. I feel it will just get better since it’s only in its second year. I have to give a special shout out to the Comfort Inn in Morrisville because they were really cool about extending our checkout time so we could get ourselves together before hitting the road. Also, Andrea, my partner in crime on this running mission, gets a shout out for rubbing and stretching legs after they both cramped up as I unsuccessfully tried to get out of the car after driving back to New York. She endured my screams of pain really well. With that said … WHEN’S THE NEXT RACE!?!

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UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Recap

I was a little nervous going into this race. Let’s face it, I’m nervous at every race. When I got up it was raining and so I wasn’t super excited about that. My rain gear consists of a brimmed cap, period. I had a banana and some water for breakfast. That’s as much as I can stomach before a race. You are not supposed to deviate from whatever you’ve been doing on your training runs when going into a race. However, I do most of my training runs on empty, which really can’t be a good thing. So, I sometimes I do the banana thing because I know I’m supposed to fuel the tank before a run. I’m still working on my running fuel.

Speaking of fuel, I tried out Bikram Yoga the day before the race. I knew that was a risky proposition but I’ve been wanting to do it for so long and I was up early enough to make it, so I went. It was cool, well not really cool because they heat the room to 105 degrees. But it was an interesting experience. Who knew stretching could be so strenuous? I was dripping sweat early in the session. Due to the yoga water loss, I tried my best to rehydrate during the course of the day and decided that I would stop at all the hydration stations during the race. Otherwise, would probably only stop at one or two for a 6 mile run.

The race was in my favorite place to run, [cue sarcasm] Central Park. So I knew there were going to be rough times ahead. I am so unfamiliar with Central Park that I never quite know where I’m going so I followed a guy who looked familiar with his surroundings. I checked my bag and started off to my corral and was greeted by this sight:002

Yes, an obscenely long line of porta potties. I could immediately hear angels singing and all was well in the running world. If you’re around runners long enough, you’ll realize that runners can get obsessed with porta potties … they are our friends. My personal feelings toward porta potties could be described as a love/hate relationship and so I was thankful that I didn’t need to make a visitation.

Race corrals sort the runners so the fastest runners are in the front and the slowest are in the back. My corral was so far back that they didn’t even put out a number for it. So, I went to the last corral and waited for the gun, which occurred right after the national anthem was sung. I think the singer of the anthem may have been having a bad day. That’s all I have to say about that. Then the race began.

When we finally crossed the start line, the woman in front of me saw family and/or friends cheering for her and decided to stop and cut across to greet them. There is always one. This happened during the Scotland Run but I have to say that this race was not congested like that one. Maybe they made the running lane wider. After getting by the greeter, I was off to a good start. I was feeling great and oops, I missed the first hydration station. It was less than a mile out and by the time I saw it I was too far to the right to cross over and safely get water. No worries, I was having a wonderful time and figured this is probably how Mo Farah feels when he’s running but decided to run closer to my left so as not to miss the other stations. Cat Hill was conquered and I caught the next hydration station and before knew it mile two was completed.

At this rate, I was looking at a PR. I was a little hot and sweaty and considered tossing my hat. No chance. I paid good money for that. But I felt like my form was good and was picturing myself bounding along like a gazelle and then … stop the presses. Before me was the ugliest hill ever. As I started to tackle it, I thanked God that I stopped at he last station. Then I realized that what I thought was the top of the hill was not, it just seemed to keep going and going. Then, I saw a woman about 50 meters in front of me throw up her hands in victory. At this point I’m dying and I’m thinking, “Does this idiot not realize that we still have almost four miles to go?” Then it dawn on me that she was celebrating the fact that she had finally reached the top of the hill. I was encouraged and kept going and sure enough I too was on top of the world. Yay, turns out I had just run Harlem Hill. I tried to enjoy the downhill but I was so wiped from the climb that even that seemed hard. I started to get my legs back and BAM, another hill. At this point, I realize I am sweating like crazy and I am not liking this race.

By the time I got to the third hydration station, I walked through it and made sure I got good drink. I had a hard time getting my running rhythm back, which is why I don’t like to stop a the hydration stations and if I do I try to keep running even if it is at a much slower pace. And of course there were more hills. I passed quite a few people who were walking. I was almost at mile four when I got to the fourth hydration station and I walked through but got most of the water on my face anyway because I just didn’t have the energy to focus on swallowing it. Mercifully the next mile wasn’t so bad but by this time I was so tired and was mad at myself for the whole Bikram yoga thing. I didn’t even see the five mile marker but I did stop at the fifth hydration station. I was probably delirious. I remember seeing the 800 meter marker and equating it to twice around the track. Quantifying that way just made it seem more attainable. When I finally crossed the finish line I started to feel light headed. I grabbed more water and wished it was Gatorade. A guy told me to take a bagel and said it tasted like French toast. I nibbled on the bagel. The guy lied. I managed to retrieve my bag from the baggage check and broke out my trusty chocolate milk. Bye, bye bagel. The milk was still cold and just a few sips hit the spot. For me, there is nothing like chocolate milk for post race recovery. I was still thirsty for Gatorade and remembered that I had a six pack in my trunk. I whipped out the GPS to figure out how to get out of the park and that’s when I realized that even after all of that pounding my achilles felt fine. Maybe Bikram wasn’t such a bad idea after all. I just won’t be doing it the day before a race. Turns out humidity was at 97%, so maybe all that sweating wasn’t from the Bikram class.

Next stop: THE BROOKLYN HALF MARATHON on May 18th … yes next week. And yes, I’m nuts.