Up until now I've been very lucky weather-wise on race day. My worst weather to date was the 70 degree sticky humid start to the Princess Half Marathon, but at least that was dry (well, as dry as a humid day can be). Sunday's Superhero Race in Morristown, NJ was 58 degrees and raining. Fortunately that was the biggest problem for the day.
As soon as I heard about this race, I knew I wanted to do it. After all dressing up in costume is part of the fun of running a race. One of the reasons I signed up for the Rutgers 8K was that my friends were all planning on wearing their Sparkle Skirts. When I ran the Big Red Race two weeks ago I was the only one wearing a Sparkle Skirt, but I enjoyed the crowds comments about my skirt and the extra cheers I feel that generated. I still enjoy playing dress up.
The only trouble with this race was that I was not ready to run a half marathon. I ran one in February, and I am signed up for three in the fall, but I have not been training with a plan of running a half marathon this summer. This race has the option of running it as a relay. The course is two loops through Morristown, with a relay stop in-between. Perfect! Now who can I talk into running with me?? Hmm....
I asked Debbie (the Perfect Princess I met on the plane to Florida). She was already racing with Jen.
I asked Sharon. She was already running the Bay to Breakers in San Francisco.
I asked Michelle. She was already running Color Me Rad race closer to home.
I asked Lisa. She prefers cycling to running.
I asked people on the PbRC Facebook group. Sarah and Becca said they were already running it.
I asked Don. If he can ride his bike 200 miles in a day, surely he can run / walk 6.4 miles. He agreed, but was in denial up until race day.
Jen took this picture of us at the relay station. Hard to tell, but I attached a purple cape to the back of my Princess Half Marathon shirt. If nothing else, it helped keep the back of my legs warm. Don is wearing the official Superhero shirt, with boxer shorts that have the Beatles Yellow Submarine on them, and blue cycling pants. He was too cold to take off his jacket. I'm glad I wore my running cap.
1700 people signed up for the race. Not sure if many bailed due to the weather. I ran the first (and longer) leg of the relay. The course was packed in the beginning to the extent that when it was time for me to do my first interval I did not feel comfortable slowing down to a walk. Thirty seconds later I could. At the time, I was concerned that by going out too strong I was going to hurt my chances of a good finish later. Those fears were based on past races when I have pushed too strong in the first mile and suffered before long. Fortunately that was not the case here.
I did have a stitch in my side during the second mile. Fortunately the cup of water took care of that problem and I ran /walked my 3:2 interval pace most of the rest of the run. I did walk up the giant hill. Whew! We don't have hills like that in Lawrenceville.
The crowds were the real superheros of the day. As we ran through neighborhoods, kids were sitting outside with their parents cheering us on. You knew that they were inconvenienced by having roads closed, but no one seemed to mind. I did see one man running with his dog against the flow of traffic in the park.
Lots of police, fire and EMT support. Speaking of support, at one of the water stations the volunteers dressed as Mario Brothers. That little bit of extra helped me keep going after the big hill.
Before I started, I told Don expect me between 1:15 and 1:30. I made it to him at 1:17! I was lapped by 5 half marathoners (God Bless them and their speed!). We took a quick picture at the swap and he was off and running. Meanwhile, I changed into dry clothes and took some pictures of other people in costume.
Unlike the Big Red Race where he beat me by at least a mile a minute, Don kept a similar pace to me and finished with a smile at 2:32. We came in 125th place out of all relay teams. We each earned a finisher's medal.
After the race Debbie said she would do it again. I'd have to agree. It was a nice race. Well organized. In the "room for improvement" side would have been an extra water station and one set of port-o-pots. Since the race was a loop, the one set of bathrooms was at the beginning, middle and end of the half marathon -- or the beginning and end of the relay. Fortunately that was not an issue for us.
I'm especially pleased with how well I did because this weekend called for two long runs in anticipation of the Dumbo Double Dare at the end of the summer. Saturday I ran 5 miles around the Lawrenceville School and the Lawrence Hopewell Trail. Following that with Sunday's Superhero race was a test for me as to how I would feel running the 10K and Half Marathons back to back. I was happy with how I felt mentally and physically.
I've lately realized how cool the swag is features in my enjoyment. The shirts are awesome -- girl-cut tech in Boston Marathon yellow and blue. The finisher medals were the same for the relay and half marathon people -- I did anticipate ours would be smaller to reflect the smaller effort we did, but was very happy we were not slighted. The vast majority of the runners did the whole half marathon.
I don't know if I could have finished the whole half marathon with a smile, but my legs had enough in them for another few miles. Ideally our swap would have taken place just before that giant hill at the 3.5 mile spot (which reappeared at the 10.2 mile spot) and let Don do the last few miles. That wasn't an option.
We celebrated our victory with greasy sandwiches from the Minuteman of America restaurant -- a local restaurant that has been open since 1962, and one I remember going to as a child when we'd visit Aunt Debra at Jockey Hollow. I cannot find a website for the place, but it is modernizing -- they now offer WiFi, a service that did not exist when we went there last on Boxing Day 2011 with my parents. Maybe a website is in their future.
An online article about the race with a few pictures: http://photos.nj.com/morris/2013/05/photos_superhero_half-marathon_1.html