Sunday, June 14, 2015

George Sheehan Classic (Red Bank, NJ)

This race can be summed up in four sentences. It was humid. Mother Nature won. I got a new personal worst. The end.

Okay, that sounds boring, right?

You all probably want to know the "how" right? Plus, I don't know. Maybe see some pictures of my newest Sparkle Athletic skirt? ;-)

Well, here you go. This recap won't be pretty, much like the race itself. But I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, and am still emotional about yesterday, so this does have a lot of raw emotion. 

I went into this race with four goals:

A+: Overall PR of 34:35 or faster. With the crowding and hill in this race, it would be a long shot, but if everything was in sync, it would be possible (hence the "plus").

A: Course PR (below 35:51). I would not have an overall PR, but would beat my time from this race in 2012 and have a course PR. This was the actual goal I had going in to this race.

B: Between 35:51-36:46. This would not be any type of PR, but would not be a personal worst. 

C: Finish in the upright position with a smile on my face. Hey, sometimes this is all you need, right?

Spoiler: None of these happened. Just keep reading, okay? Sheesh! ;-)

I was nervous going into this race as is (the infamous Tower Hill), but the forecast for Saturday was making the nerves worse. Temps were forecasted into the 70's with humidity around 60-70 percent. Can we say "Ugh" now?

Anyway, I was as prepared as I could get in terms of running in the humid air and with the hill work over the last month or so. Still, even as I laid out my Flat Tracy, I was beyond nervous.

Shirt: Abundant Heart, Belt: Spibelt, Leg Sleeves: Zensah. Shoes: Asics Gel Contend 2, Shorts: Under Armour, Skirt and Shwings: Sparkle Athletic.

I had trouble sleeping on Friday night, partially nerves, partially heat. Still, I did manage some sleep, and still woke up around 6 on Saturday morning.

I did my usual pre-race meal, checked my social networks, and got dressed. Goal was to be in the car at 7:30, and I was in at about 7:26. Win!

Once I got down to Red Bank, I parked and paid for my spot up to about 11:00, since I didn't know how long I was going to be down there after the race.

After that was taken care of, I hung around the start area and tried to stay calm and loose before the race. I was also looking for Janine and her husband Brian who were also running.

Sure enough, about 20 minutes before go time, I spotted them! Or maybe they spotted me first. You know, because so many people wear red Sparkle Athletic skirts...haha. ;-) We chatted for a bit before the start, and eventually we had to part ways, since they were sub 30:00 runners, and I was hoping for about 35:00.

Oh, and I got my pre-race pic. Pretty sure this was the happiest I looked all morning.

It's almost go time! I'm ready, I'm ready! Not really, but we can pretend, right? ;-)

I was as set as I was going to get at this point. Training was done, now was the time to trust that it was enough. 

The rest of the pre-race was fast. Race director said his few words, the national anthem was sung, and then we were off! See y'all on Tower Hill, then the finish!

I started kind of far back, so it was just over a minute before I hit the start mat and my race would "officially" begin. 
Approximate position of my start. It took me 1:08 to hit the start mat.

Once I crossed the start mat, adrenaline kicked in, and I started off strong, running for about 90 seconds or so. That wound up being the longest stretch I ran for the entire race.

I attempted to stick to a 1:1 ratio (a minute running to a minute walking), but with the humidity feeling like it was climbing, this was short lived. 

My clock time for the first mile was about 12:23, so I figured I was about 11:23 or so, which was on pace for the course PR.

Then Mother Nature decided she wanted more. What I forgot about this race is that most of it is in the sun. And it sucked yesterday. It was blistering, and coupled with the humidity, felt awful. I am beyond thankful for all the Red Bank and Little Silver residents who were up cheering on us crazy people and had their hoses and sprinklers going. That support was AWESOME and part of what kept me going!

The second mile of any race has always been tough for me, but today was where it got bad. I hit the two-mile marker at about 25:20, which meant any hope of a course PR was down the toilet. The overall PR got shot at mile 1. At this point, it was just a battle to finish. 

Yeah, Mother Nature wants more than I do. Is this over yet?

Ironically, I felt strong going on to Tower Hill. It wasn't as bad as I remember it being (maybe all the hill work I did over the last month), and I actually ran up about halfway! Not perfect, but hey, it was something more than I did three years ago!

Once I got past Tower Hill, I was spent. I was still hoping for my "B" goal and not PW, but I was struggling, like many around me. I was a mess, and wanted to cry at so many points in this race, but I just kept trudging forward, running where I could, and just thought that maybe I wouldn't get a PW after all.

It wasn't meant to be. I hit Broad Street, and tried to run the whole stretch, but couldn't do it. I did stop for a pic with Jogsey (the Run Jersey mascot), and probably looked so stupid doing it, but at that point, I didn't care. I was done. I just wanted this race to be over. (Still waiting on the pic from Run Jersey and will post when I get it).

I did manage a sprint for the last few tenths, and had a clock time of 40:15, which I figured was a chip time of 39 and change. Yup, I had a brand new personal worst. Very disappointing finish to a race where my goal time was about four minutes faster. 

I'm pretty sure I looked like a flying moron in my finisher pic, but again, I didn't care. This race took everything I had, and pretty sure my "C" goal wasn't even accomplished. I finished, but the smile was fake, and I was never more happy to be done with anything in my life. 

After I crossed the finish line, I got my finisher gift (a tote bag) and headed down to the festival to get some snacks and see if Janine and Brian were still around. 

I found them and found out they both did awesome! Ten minutes ahead of me awesome! I congratulated them, hung out for a few minutes, then got a post race pic with Janine before they left. 
So awesome to meet social media pals in real life! Janine is awesome! (Thank you Janine for letting me use this pic!)

The results were being posted as fast as they could get them, so after a few minutes at the festival, I found mine. Clock time: 40:15.3. Chip time: 39:07.5 (Pace: 12:36/mile). New PW by just under three minutes. I knew the weather had a lot to do with it (damn heat and humidity), but the feeling still sucked, especially when hearing of people who actually PR'd. I had my goals set high for this race, and Mother Nature had her way with me. I know that not every race can be a PR, and that I gave everything I had, but it wasn't enough. Heat kicked in and beat my ass. I wanted to give up so many times, but I told myself that the DNF wasn't worth it. I had to remember that there was a time where I wouldn't have even tried to do this, and I had eleven times now! 

After I had walked around a bit, I went down by the Navesink River, and asked someone to take a picture of me by the water. I needed one bright spot in my day, and the picture did just that.

Seriously, every race along the water should have it as a finisher photo-op. It is GORGEOUS!

I think that the saying "Expect the unexpected" should apply to runners everywhere. You never know what race day will bring, and yesterday, it was nothing like I was hoping for. Sometimes, the course and/or Mother Nature will want more. Yesterday, they both won and then some. Still, I did finish, and that's what counts. 

Even with the conditions and everything, this race will still hurt for awhile. I think anything that ends up way less than what you hope for does in general. I'm just glad I finished and even though it wasn't fun, I think I became stronger as a result. 

So maybe I did come out on the right side after all. Whatever. I know I'm not done with this race yet. I WILL be back for my revenge on Tower Hill! Next time, for real! ;-)


  1. Aw, your awesome too! So glad we had the chance to meet up yesterday. And don't get down about your results, the weather seriously was not kind to us that morning! I was struggling the whole time as well and I'm really afraid to see what my race photos look like lol. Congrats to us all for finishing in that!

    1. I actually found a few of my pics from yesterday and I look MISERABLE! I felt just as bad too, and just wanted to be done. It was not fun, but we finished! This one will hurt, but it's now looking forward to Little Silver in October.