The New Jersey Marathon was my 28th marathon, and unlike my previous marathons, I decided to run this race without my Garmin. I wanted to run this marathon on pure feel. I must say, it felt very liberating to pack for this race and leave my Garmin sitting on the table. And, to make this marathon ever better, Katie accompanied me on the trip!
After getting my ass kicked at the Blue Ridge Marathon two weeks ago, it was refreshing to see a pancake flat course profile for the NJ Marathon. As race day approached, the weather forecast was looking promising with high's in the 60's and partly cloudy skies.
My goal was to run a sub-4, but I wasn't going to be upset if that didn't happen. Honestly, I never really know how my race is going to go until I get out there and run. After waiting in an ungodly long gear check line, I made it to my corral with only minutes to spare before the start of the race. Katie told me that she wanted to run part of the race with me. So, the night before, we reviewed the course map and decided that mile 11 would be a good meetup point.
The race got off without a hitch and I settled into a comfortable pace. Halfway through the 2nd mile, someone from behind me commented on the shirt I was wearing (a RnR Seattle Marathon shirt). That comment led to a 5 mile conversation. Now, I'm usually not one for making friends during a marathon (I'm a introverted runner), but I didn't mind chatting with Kevin from New Jersey, who was running in his second marathon.
After parting ways with Kevin, I looked forward to mile 11 and meeting up with Katie. However, when I got to the mile 11 marker, I didn't see her. The marathon course was a point-to-point. So, after the race started, Katie had to take a shuttle bus from the start to the finish area. However, the bus ride to the finish area took longer than expected and Katie bailed out of the bus early and unbeknown to me, dashed further up the course. So, to my surprise, I spotted her closer to the mile 12 mark. Needless to say, I was happy to see her! Katie (a two-time marathon finisher herself) ran with me until mile 14. Being able run some of the marathon with her was definitely my favorite part of the race!
The last 12 miles were very enjoyable for me. Even without my watch on, I could tell that my pace had increased a bit from the first half. But, I was feeling pretty strong so I stuck with that pace to the finish. After crossing the finish line, I found Katie and then quickly found a bench to park my butt on for a few minutes. Then, we started walking around in search of the gear drop truck so I could collect my things. While searching for the gear truck, I saw a results tent and asked a volunteer to look up my finishing time for me. I was anxious to see what my time was, which ended up being a 3:54:26. I had achieve my race goal and I was very happy about that! Reviewing my time more in depth later online, I was very pleased with how well I paced myself. I ran the first half in 1:58:55 and the second half in 1:55:31, a 3:24 negative split!
Another highlight of the NJ Marathon was getting to meet one of my fellow running tweeps, Jocelyn, after the race! While speaking to each other, we found out that both of us are running in the Chicago Marathon this fall! However, something I didn't find out until after speaking with her is that she set a 40 minute PR! Awesome! You can read all about her NJ Marathon here.
Overall, the NJ Marathon was a great experience. Not sure if I'll do this race again, but I was glad to check New Jersey off my list of states I need to run a mary in. It was weird at times not having a Garmin to check my pace, but I'm glad I ran without it. I will certainly run Garmin-less again in the future and would highly recommend you try it as well! It was so nice having Katie with me because I'm not use to having company while traveling to most of my marathons. Her support and encouragement over the weekend meant a lot to me! You're the BEST!