Sunday, November 11, 2012

Trenton Half Marathon

As I was running in the inaugural Trenton Half Marathon I'll admit I did not have a kind word for the race. A day later as I look at my pretty medal, my harsh words are softening.

Only 20 days ago I ran in the Columbus Half Marathon. Since then I dealt with taking down a willow tree thanks to Hurricane Sandy, and had a surprise early November snowstorm the Weather Channel decided to name Athena. One of my favorite races, the 5-mile Beauty and the Beach run in Long Beach, NJ was canceled as Sandy destroyed the shore town, and our route. On one of my few training runs, 5 miles through Mercer Meadows, I had to climb over 3 trees twice.

In a nutshell, training stank.

Saturday's race was calling for beautiful weather -- low 38, high 50. 
The drive to Waterfront Park and parking was a mess. The line for race day packet pick ups were long (thankfully, Sharon and I went on Thursday). The race started 45 minutes late. Yes, FORTY-FIVE minutes late as the announcer kept insisting it would be a few more minutes and appreciating our patience. 

My biggest complaint with the start was that I could not figure out how to line up by anticipated finish time, nor could I find a pacer. There were about 2700 runners. I have a tendency to jackrabbit at the start, and was hoping to be able to pace myself right in the start. This is what really helped me with Columbus.

The route:
Started off going under the new tunnel on 29. Then up and over the highway and back through the tunnel. Overall my GPS route showed it was .33 miles shorter than 13.1, which people attributed to losing satellite in the tunnel and under the overpasses. 

Much of the route was along not-so scenic Route 29. I would have preferred more time on State Street or through neighborhoods as 29 does not encourage places to stop and view the race. There was a definite lack of spectators along the route.
Don chased after me on his bike and took lots of pictures of me along the way.
Later on I found out Gary, someone I know through community theater, handed me water at one of the watering stops. I was surprised day of by how few people I knew. Surprised later in the day when I read in FB about how many people I did know at the race. Should have coordinated better.

As billed, one of the highlights was running across the Trenton Makes Bridge. I hadn't paid attention to the surface of the bridge before. The whole time I was afraid I would catch my toe in the steel grates. Made out fine, and didn't see anyone fall, but it was a definite obstacle that I will be prepared for next time.

The race then went into Morrisville, PA for a couple of miles. Bigger crowds in Pennsylvania -- possibly because less roads were closed and we went through residential neighborhoods.

Crossed the Calhoun Street Bridge back into New Jersey. By now most of the runners clued into running on the boardwalk on the side, rather than the closed steel grate bridge.

There was a 10K option, but I pressed on. This was one of the clearest signs along the route. One of my pet peeves with the race, was the lack of clear signage overall. I saw my first mile marker at mile 4! At a water station there was a hand written sign saying Gatorade to the left and water to the right. It was hard to read.

There is Don in his yellow jacket taking pictures at the top of the overpass.

I never realized before how hilly Cadwalader Park really is! Had the storms not hit, I had been planning on driving the course to see what to expect. Oh well, another race.

The highlight -- running on the field at Waterfront Park! 

Another highlight -- the great personal support. My parents chased me around town with Ashley, while Don chased me on his bike. My time (only 2 minutes slower than Columbus, even with taking pictures, walking, and chatting with fellow runners who were struggling through the course) was much better than I would have imagined. 

Would I do another race in Trenton? Time will tell. It was like childbirth -- the further away from it you are, the less you remember the pain.Will I sign up for another half marathon? You bet! Leaning towards signing up for the Disney Coast-to-Coast Challenge!

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