Sunday, June 30, 2013

Union Beach 5K (Union Beach, NJ)

It's hard to believe that it's been just over a week since I ran my fifth 5K! Life has been crazy in more ways than one (but that's another post), so I'm just now getting to write the recap for this race!

If it wasn't for Hurricane Sandy back in October, this race probably wouldn't have happened. Union Beach was one of the harder hit areas when the hurricane hit the Jersey Shore, and there are still signs of rebuilding. This race was a fundraiser for hurricane relief, as well as showing that the town (and its people) aren't going anywhere.

As soon as I saw this race on the Jersey Shore Running Club page, I was sold.

Heat and humidity seemed to be the story of the training cycle, and race morning was no exception. I woke up at 7:00 that morning, and the humidity was about 85-90 percent. Nonetheless, I was still going for the PR.

Once I got to the race site, it was the usual walking around, staying loose and hydrated before lining up for the start. I also took a few moments to remember the real reason for the race: Restore the Shore and staying U.B. Strong!

Soon enough, it was lineup time. There were no timing chips, so there was no start mat, just two Jersey Strong flags as the start banners. I stood in about the middle of the pack. This was a BAD idea, and soon enough, I will learn this lesson. There were almost 600 runners, and as a result, a crowded start.

Next thing I knew, we were off! My fifth 5K was underway!

My adrenaline level must have been a little too high at the start. I completed my first mile around 10:25, my fastest mile ever! Again, I started too fast, which seems to be a lesson I never learned, despite having this experience at every race I've done. 

Oh, and on another note, I saw Cassie, my kickboxing instructor, and a Union Beach resident (one of the lucky ones who didn't see much damage to her residence) about a half mile in. "Born to Be Wild" by Steppenwolf was playing at this point. I wonder if this is supposed to mean ;-)

Anyway, once that fast first mile ended, the humidity started to take its toll on me. My second mile was about two minutes slower than my first, and the thought of a PR was slipping away. At that point, I told myself that no matter what, this was a dream just two years ago, and that no matter what time I finished, it would still be a finish!

My third mile felt a little faster, but still slow. The last stretch of the race was on a (paved) trail, and since it was the end of the race, the trail felt endless, of course.

But soon enough, I found enough strength in me to sprint out the last few yards, and felt great crossing the finish line! I knew I didn't get the PR, but still felt strong, given the humidity that had slapped me in the face that morning. 

I got my official time a few hours later. Since there were no timing chips (my only complaint about this race), everyone had the same start time. From the official start to finish, I came in at 36:47, just about 2:00 short of a PR. If conditions were perfect, I would have gotten it, but given the humidity, I was pleased with that time. I also realized that I'm still rebuilding my running this year as well. 

Overall, this race was amazing. For an inaugural event, it was super organized, which was surprising in a good way. It also amazed me that almost 600 runners came out for this, which shows just how much impact this small town has on the "Restore the Shore" movement. Again, my one complaint was the lack of timing chips. If there were chips, I may have gone further back in the pack, but I made the best of it. The course was fast and flat, so if this race happens again next year, I plan on running it again!

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