After following along the Boston Marathon this morning, the half doesn't seem like much, but, here we go anyway.
The Asbury Park Half Marathon has two options: a three loop course, or an out and back course from the boardwalk to Sea Girt and back. The out and back course goes over the Belmar draw bridge. If the bridge is up, you're stuck until it goes back down, and that time counts toward your official time.
But what the heck. Opted for the out and back course anyway.
Thank goodness it didn't rain but the wind was terrible. I could hear it howling when I woke up that morning (the wind ended up being so bad that I had windburn marks around where my watch was). I went out a little faster than I hoped, but held my pace. The wind wasn't *too* bad going out. After the Sea Girt turn around, though, it smacked you, and I leaned into it the rest of the way to the finish line. The only reprieve was in the last stretch where our course merged with the three loop course - it wasn't on the boardwalk, so there was some wind buffer, but not much.
I managed to hold up that fast pace through the second half of the run, and even pushed to run negative splits (meaning I ran the next mile faster than the one before). I finished with official time of 1:54:20. That's 140th overall out of 630; 13th out of 74 in my age bracket; and 58th woman overall out of 404.
I'll be honest: the time shocked me, not just because of the wind, but because it's not far from my half marathon PR of 1:53:06, which was the last race I ran before my hip injury pushed me out of competitive racing (and that wasn't even a great race, but another story for another time). I don't feel anywhere close to being in the same shape, and I haven't been training like a maniac, so the time is still a kick.
AND I managed to unpin and re-pin my bib mid race. Because the weather was so crazy, I had no idea what to wear. I stood outside of the hotel in three different outfits before going with to-the-knee tights, light tank and light running jacket. I ditched the jacket at mile three, but my bib was pinned to it, so I unpinned it from the jacket and re-pinned it to my bib while running. I kept the jacket, too, which I really appreciated given how much my body temperature dropped after the race.
Thank you to the volunteers who opened the straw and punched it into the juice box for me. My hands were frozen and swollen, and I couldn't even get the cap of a water bottle off let alone accomplish that complex task.
I only have one complaint, which lead to two problems: packet pickup was extremely unorganized. I was given two shirts but no wrist band that let me into the post-race shindig. Since there was no water station at the end of the race, I couldn't get any and relied on those volunteers who took pity on me and gave me water (the juice box was from a company handing out samples). I understand if you want to limit the crowds, but isn't my bib, medal and sweat soaked body enough?
Anyway. Now, for what you've really been waiting for: the food.
The first stop was Langosta Lounge for edamame, then Dauphin Grille for drinks with friends. Dinner was PASTA at Stella Marina, and post race meal came in at Tim McLoones.
Yes, Tim McLoone's. Wonderbar was not open, and even though the waitress standing outside waiting to be let in swore they'd be open at noon, she said no one was inside. Not good if you want to order a burger pronto, so we crossed the street and figured we'd look at the menu.
Turned out to be a good call. I went with the burger stuffed with blue cheese, and the dude did the burger with pork roll on either side of the meat. We both went for the fried pickles, which were incredibly. I also went for two bloody marys, which meant a nice big nap on the drive home.
I stayed at Hotel Tides, which fit the bill in terms of price and proximity to the race. Had a nice room, too. Only problem was the location of that room: 203, right up the (open) stairs from the lobby, which was loud. I came back from dinner after 11pm and the music was still on, and people at the bar. I had to sleep with the TV on to get past the noise, which I never do. If I stay there again, I'd try to get a room away from that stairwell.
Another observation. Take look at my race bib:
The race was sponsored by Wawa. Combined with seeing "pork roll" on a menu, I have to wonder if South Jersey culture is slowing creeping up the NJ coast. Those are very South Jersey things, and I was surprised to see both in Asbury Park.
Next up? Broad Street. It'll be nice to just take the subway to the start for this one.