4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

New Jersey Marathon

with 2 comments

I’ve definitely got ties to the New Jersey Marathon. My weekend house is in Little Silver, which is two towns away from Long Branch (just need to pass through Oceanport). My home beach is Seven President’s State Park, which is passed through at mile 1 and mile 14 on the course. I also follow several bloggers that will be running the race this year. Best of luck to Run Jen Run, Run Ansky Run, Echers: A Girl and Her Blog, all running the full, and Races Like A Girl, running the half.

But, I also so despise this race. They say first impressions are the hardest ones to shake, and boy was my first impression rotten!  I ran the race in 2002, when it was called the Jersey Shore Marathon, and the race started in Sandy Hook.  It seemed like a cool idea, run 5 miles in Sandy Hook, then run down the ocean to Deal, and then turn back up to Long Branch.  However, I did not consider the possibility of torrential rain, which is what happened on that day.  My drive to the High School in Long Branch takes less than 10 minutes, but it was one scary hydroplaning 10 minute drive.  The rain was hard, the wind was whipping, and I was not feeling happy about the prospect of running 26 miles.

There was a shuttle bus to the start, which was one of the little Sandy Hook parking lots, with very little cover.  We were all trying to stay dry huddled under some tents.  Thankfully the rain did let up a bit as we got to the start, and then it rained off an on during the race, but the wind was fierce.  It was also a lonely race.  There were hardly any spectators, who can blame them, as Sandy Hook is not exactly easy to get to for spectating, and the bad weather, I’m sure, kept most people indoors.  While the rain let up, I can’t say the same about the wind.  It was a steady wind out of the south, and unfortunately, south was the direction we were heading in, from about mile 3-4 (the top of Sandy Hook) to the turnaround at about mile 23.  The wind was unrelenting and very harsh.  I had finally busted the 5 hour barrier twice in 2000 (New York City Marathon and Vermont City Marathon), and this was the first race I thought I might be able to run a 4:30.  Alas, with the bad weather and the wind, that was not to be the case, and I finished in 5:02:34, 1092 out of 1329 finishers.

I actually found this article in Running Times recounting the day – it was a fun read.  I wonder if the course change had anything to do with the desolation of Sandy Hook and the potential harshness of 18 miles in one direction.  As much has I HATE a two loop course, that is probably the best way to handle this race.

I know I should not let my first impressions sway me too much, and I’m willing to give this race a second chance.  I think I may be able to spectate for a bit on Sunday, and if so,  it would probably be in the Monmouth Beach area, between miles 3-4 and 16-17.  I can’t say that I’ll race it again, as going forward, I’m trying to spread my marathons across the 50 states.  I’ve got 5 so far (New York, New Jersey, California, Vermont, Texas), and so 45 to go!

Forecast for Sunday is, of course, for rain, but temps in the 50’s.  If the rain is on the light side, this could actually be perfect weather.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.  Good luck to all!


Written by SCL

May 1, 2009 at 8:52 am

Posted in Race Report, weather

2 Responses

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  1. thanks for the shout out! im hoping it stays very overcast with just some drizzle! you never know! but as long as the wind stays away I’ll be Ok!


    May 1, 2009 at 10:24 am

  2. Good luck to you too! I’m hoping the rain holds off and I beat my previous marathon time!


    May 1, 2009 at 8:13 pm

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