2018 New Jersey State Triathlon – race recap

At the end of July I made my triathlon comeback. If you recall from last year, I had a ‘slight’ accident during my Half Iron distance triathlon in Williamsburg, VA and as a result I had to pull out of this event last year. As soon as the registration opened up for 2018 I signed up. I wouldn’t say my wife was happy about it but I needed to get back in the saddle…so to speak.

The hardest thing for me going in to this event was my lack of training. Since my accident I had not either gone on a bike or trained in a pool since last July. My main concern was not the bike, I’d just go slower if needed, but training in the pool. My shoulder has not been the same since the incident and still has both an audible and physical pop when I rotate it, so when the first swim training session appeared on my TrainingPeaks app I was a little apprehensive. Fortunately, I survived that and my actual fitness in the pool wasn’t as bad as I thought it may have been. With that said, I stuck very closely to the training plan and was able to maintain and build upon my swimming strength over the next 12 weeks.

That gap certainly did a number on my fitness…well, that and the extra 10 pounds that I put on since last tri season. Oh well. I was committed now and was willing to squeeze everything into the spandex when the time called for it. What was cool about this year though was that my whole family are now riding bikes so I got to do more recreational riding with my wife and my boys.

Race week was rapidly approaching and I was getting excited and eagerly awaiting receiving my race number and final instructions. When I received my confirmation I noticed that it said ‘Aquabike’. Wait a minute? Aquabike? That’s the swim and the bike…but not the run? I quickly went back through my race registration emails and it also said aquabike. Oh no! This was a disaster. After all the build up (in my own mind) for this come back race I seemed to have registered for the wrong event. This is also a race that constantly posts updates about selling out. (Insert audible head slap here!). I emailed the race director only to get their ‘Out of Office’ response. 😦 Ultimately I did get a response which told me to look to speak with them at packet pick up on the weekend to see what could be done.

I was a little concerned when I arrived at the race site on Saturday afternoon. They were just clearing up from the Saturday morning Sprint race. Fortunately the first person I spoke to happened to be the race director. Things were looking up. I explained my predicament, that this was my comeback race, that I had to pull out of last years event from injury and that I messed up (honesty is the best policy, right?) and it didn’t hurt that I was wearing a prior year event shirt and I mentioned the year when they cancelled the event mid race which was supposed to be my first triathlon. Okay, I poured it on a bit. No worries though. She walked me over to the timing table and let me adjust (and pay the extra fee) to upgrade to the Olympic triathlon. Yeah. They moved my number into the right category although I would still be racked and staged with the aquabike athletes. After that, race packet pickup was fine. I just had to swap out my swim cap color now that I was in the corrected event. Once All was taken care of I took a lap around the staging area and merchandise tent to see if there was any fun (or something unique) to buy. Seeing as I had just paid to upgrade my race the wallet stayed in my pocket this time.

The finish line for tomorrow’s event

The transition area was spacious for the event

The merchandise tent

So with everything now settled with the race all I had to do was go home, get my gear together and hope that my training had been enough (and that my confidence was there for the swim and the bike). It was a little surprising then (and not very settling for my nerves) when I got my race packet out to put with my race gear and noticed the name on the bib was not mine!!! Who the heck is ‘Gary’?

What the… #identitycrisis

I immediately jumped on to the Facebook page for the event (who doesn’t turn to Facebook for answers?) and before I sent a message to the race team I noticed that many people had experienced the bib name mess up. Phew.  I was not alone. I hadn’t picked up the wrong bib. Okay, if that is the worst that happens I’d be fine the next day.

Usually, this race is extremely hot. The water is usually so warm that wet suits are not allowed. The day is hot and sunny. This year however I woke up to find out that it had rained overnight and it was misty and cool. I arrived at the race site and racked my bike and got my equipment all set up. It had been raining and the ground was soft and damp. I laid my gear out on plastic bags to keep everything dry and packed my socks and shoes inside plastic bags as it was still misty. This was the year that people had wetsuits. I was ill prepared. It was misty and raining. I had sunscreen but no wetsuit. Oops. Anyway, I headed down to the race start by the side of the lake and waited for my wave to get into the water.

A wet start to the day and glad I brought the plastic bags

Ready for the off

As I was now in the 46-50 age group my wave was much later than it had been in previous years. We were almost one of the last waves out. It was such a big wave that it was broken into 2 groups so I was in the second half as my last name starts with ‘S’. Although apparently my first name is Gary!!! Finally the time to go arrived and I got into the water with everyone else ready for the off. The water was still warm so I was going to be okay without the wet suit.

My goal for this event was to finish (without any embarrassing incidents). My swim was okay. I managed to keep a good line but I was actually faster than my last race in 2016 when I had just finished my first 70.3 race (43 minutes in 2016 vs 40 minutes in 2018). Quite a surprise.

The swim leg

My transition was pretty much a lonely event. As I was racked with the aquabike racers, they had all set off earlier than I had. There was practically no-one around when I was in the transition area where I was set up. That’s at least good as the struggle I endure to put on Injinji socks on damp feet during a triathlon is something no-one needs to see (LOL).

With the swim portion complete it was time for the bike. Did I mention that rain and the mist? Wet roads and slick tires for someone who’s last race ended with a bike fall. Yeah, that was going to to boost my confidence at riding at speed! The transition area was wet and muddy and my cleats were caked in mud by the time I got to the bike mount area. I subsequently slipped while trying to clip in and whacked my ankle bone. Ouch!!! Eventually I was able to clip in and was off. The ride was incident free but I was over cautious especially in the corners. It didn’t help that I saw someone go down and saw an ambulance at the side of the road 😦  This is where I lost a lot of time in the race. In sunny 2016 I did this course in 1:07, this year 1:34. That’s a significant decline in performance. Yes, some could be explained by road surface conditions, but how much was due to nerves. I don’t know but we will see in 2019 (I’ve registered for the correct race this time!!!)

The bike leg

The weather had begun to improve by the end of the bike leg. While the sun wasn’t out as it had been in 2016 (that day was in the 80s) but it was dry and warm. The run was uneventful for me but I saw a couple of people stagger and go down due to the heat. I was tired by the end of the run and my splits definitely declined in the second half of the 10K. I ran this slower than in 2016. I think this was more due to the extra pounds than any else. I ran this in 1:06 vs 59 minutes in 2016.

The run leg

At least I finished this event without needing a trip to the medical tent. That’s a win. I really like this event. It is well run by CGI racing. They do a great job with all their races that I have participated in (Love Run, Rutgers Unite Half). Slower this time than last time I ran the event, but I will be back in 2019 and will now have something to beat.

The spandex may be tighter than previous years but I finished without a trip to the med tent

Well done ‘Gary’!!!

2016 Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon – Race recap


On Sunday April 17th I ran my 20th half marathon, the Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon. It was a race I ran in 2015 and really enjoyed (I had a good race after a long winter) and it fit nicely into my training plan for the upcoming New Jersey Marathon. This was another race put on by CGI Racing who also host the Love Run Philly and the New Jersey State Triathlon, both of which I have participated in over the last couple of years. They do put on a good event.

I was looking forward to this race as I remember it being a fast and fairly flat course and was looking forward to seeing how my pace was during race conditions. I’ve been taking it a little easy this winter as my goal is to stay fit and healthy for the upcoming HITS Hudson Valley Triathlon this July. My goal race is the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon in October. I was close to my PR last year and I felt that it was achievable the way I was training.

This year I opted to pay an extra $15 for race day packet pickup so I didn’t get to attend the expo. From what I recall from 2015 it was a small expo so I didn’t miss out on too much. The extra $15 was probably the gas and tolls I would have spent driving up and back prior to the race.

The forecast was looking good and so I was able to put away the winter gear and planned on wearing a short sleeve shirt. I decided that this was a good enough excuse to debut my new INKnBURN Magnum PI tech shirt. Actually, I didn’t really need an excuse.


Hard to tell the difference I know!!

I grabbed a cup of coffee and one of my new Honey Stinger waffles (mmm….tasty) for my pre-race breakfast and set out while it was still dark for the 40 mile or so drive to the start line. I got there early on and was parked fairly close to the start line and was able to walk to packet pickup and back to my warm car (it was still a little chilly in the early hours). Packet pickup was quick and seamless, although I was told I had to pick up my shirt and mug at the finish line. Not a big deal. In fact, I probably could have arrived a little later as it was a quicker process than I thought. My tip, register for morning of race packet pickup.


You know when you have arrived on campus


Packet pickup was quick and easy. Just had to show ID.


Packet pickup was quick and easy. Just had to show ID.

It had not warmed up by the time I left my car so I was wearing a warm up jacket which I planned to check so I would have it at the finish line. I had packed a large trash bag to wear in the start chute so headed out to bag check. While I was there I met up with fellow Mickey Miler and host of the Runner Of A Certain Age podcast, John. It was thanks to John that I signed up for this race last year. I hadn’t seen him for a while but I had been a guest on his podcast a couple of times before and we keep in touch on social media.


Meeting up with John pre-race.

In writing this recap I took a look at my last year recap. As you can see below, this picture made me chuckle when I re-read last year as we took the same photo in the same spot.


Meeting up with John (host of ‘The Runner Of A Certain Age’ podcast)

It was almost time to start so we made our way over to the start line. I made the same mistake as I had the previous year and entered the chute at the back and had to make my way forward between the 8 and 9 minute pace groups. There were no corral placements, you would just line up at the approximate pace you planned to run. It was only when I reached that point that I realized I could have entered the chute from the side. Oh well. Not a big deal and I was very polite as I made my way forward. I was wearing my trash bag to keep warm but realized I didn’t need it as it was warming up nicely so I took it off to the side and waited for the gun.


I made my way from the back to my pace time area.



Always a stylish choice. Black goes with everything.



I made it a little closer to the front.


Get the chopper TC. I’ll meet you at Rick’s for a cold one after the race.

As this was a goal race, I didn’t stop to take pictures of the course. The course itself was a little changed up from last year. There was more time on the newer side of the campus and it seemed to take us around more of the back of house areas than through the campus itself. There isn’t much course support from spectators as such on the back side of the campus (glad I wore my headphones) and there is only so much maintenance equipment and housing blocks you can see before you get bored. The second half of the race (once crossing over the highway) is more picturesque as you run through a park but you really don’t hit the campus area until after the finish.


2016 Course – more time at the back of the campus


2015 Course – more time in the park

About 15 minutes after the half marathon started the organizers sent off the 8K runners. They started on the same place as we did but on the opposite side of the start line. Essentially they run the last 8K of the half marathon distance and would explain why we ran back through the start line around mile 8. It was noticeable that there were more water stations on the second half of the course as a result.

Personally I was having a fairly decent race. I was feeling good and the course wasn’t too congested. There were some nice open stretches and for the short inclines, there were plenty of declines. It was a fairly limited elevation through the first 8 miles. Here are my splits for the first 8 miles.

First half

My first half splits.

I was feeling good going into the second half the race. My 10K split was within a couple of minutes of my 10K PR so all I had to do was keep it going.

As I was going well I started to do running math in my head. Big mistake. It was a distraction and my numbers and timing didn’t seem to make sense. I abandoned that as it is a bad habit. I didn’t think I could make my goal time (sub 1:50) but I still knew I could make a good go of the race. There are no pictures that I took on the course but I did get this professional shot from the second half of the race.


Doing my best Flyin’ Hawaiian pose.

The second half of the course in the park features a long out and back. It is about a mile and a half or so. As I had run this last year I had a sense of where I was. I remember it feeling a lot longer last year as it always does when you don’t know where the turn around is. I found this section a lot more comfortable to do this year.

Once out of the park you run through the back of a nearby neighborhood and into another park. The last couple of miles have the two biggest inclines (not hills as such). There is a final turnaround in the park as we run around a gazebo. It was at this point when I hit a mile to go that I realized I wasn’t going to hit my sub 1:50 goal, I was getting a little tired. I still thought I could be close to a PR but either way I knew it would be a good run for me.

second half

My second half splits. It shows that I slowed around mile 10.

After the final crest of course it is all downhill to the finish line. I just picked up my pace and ran it in. I was feeling strong and pushed through to the end.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:51:55. Really happy with my time but sad because I hadn’t PR’d. Still, I felt good.


I grabbed a bottle of water and excited the finish chute making sure to take a couple of photos to document the experience.


It was a great run in to the finish line.


Happy to be done. I worked hard.


The medal was so much nicer this year.

Before I left the finish line I took a quick look at my running data to see how close I had been to a PR when I realized that I actually had PR’d the race. No wonder my math hadn’t worked out on the course. I had my old PR of 1:52.43 (2013 Atlantic City April Fool’s Half Marathon recap) wrong in my head and I actually PR’d the race by almost a minute.


My official finish time.

Needless to say I was very happy once I realized. It had been over 3 years since I PR’d so you can excuse me for forgetting!

Once past the finish chute we were shepherded out to the food and back check areas. The food was well organized. Everyone was given a plastic bag containing post race refreshments as well as more water and they had Coke/Diet Coke available (although I haven’t touched soda since last August).


Post race refreshments were restricted to runners only.


Food bags were well organized and runners were moved very quickly through the tent.

We then were able to sit and stretch out on the lawn area just outside of the race set up. This is really a wonderful area to sit and cool down after the race. It really was the most picturesque part of the day. Shame it was after the race and not during.




Post race food done right. There was also a bag of potato chips included.


Definitely earned this today.


Some nice views of the post race area.


A great place to rest up and relax post race.

After sitting for a while I went to bag check to receive my bag. I didn’t need my jacket after all as the weather was glorious. The bag did come in useful though as I had to pick up my race shirt and mug and it was nice to have something to pack it all up as I then had to line up for the shuttle to return to the starting line to get my car.


In additional to my medal and race shirt (not shown) I got my race mug which CGI gives out for each race.

Really pleased with my day and again this would be a race I would recommend and return to. I think I would like my wife run it next year so she gets a chance and I will do something else, probably the Love Run Philly as they are back to back weeks and both run by the same company.

I guess it was all down to the shirt for me. I was thinking of heading the blog ‘Magnum PR’ but that would have been a little too cheesy.


I outran ‘Apollo’ and ‘Zeus’ to earn my PR.

Thanks for reading. Sorry about all the Magnum references 🙂

2015 New Jersey State Triathlon – Recap (not race recap…)


I have to start off by saying that this is a tough post to write, not because of my performance on the day but because despite all my training and all my preparation for this event it was not the outcome I had planned.

I was coming to the end of the bike portion of the race when I was called off my bike by a volunteer about half a mile from the transition to tell me that due to a report of a lightning strike on the course, the race was cancelled for the safety of the competitors.

The race directors posted a statement later which read in part:

“As disappointing as that is, we would much rather explain to you why we took such action then having to explain to the family of an injured athlete why we didn’t.

You cannot argue with that.

I would still like to record on this blog my experience leading up to, during and after this event so I can share the good and the bad as well as the surprises and the lessons learned for the weekend. Here goes…

Back in October last year I signed up for the New Jersey State Triathlon. This was to be my first triathlon. I originally signed up for the Olympic distance (1,500 meter swim/23 mile bike/6.2 mile run) but having not worked as hard in the pool as I really needed to I decided to pull back to the Sprint distance (500 meter swim/11.5 mile bike/3.1 mile run) so I knew I would be able to finish. It was the swim leg that really had me worried. I was confident about the bike and run sections having done three duathlons in the last few years.

After having joined a swim club back in October but going pretty rarely due to business travel and the access to the pool over the winter being limited I joined up with a pool closer to my house and committed to going 2 to 3 times a week and swimming. I kept up that commitment and have logged a number of long (for me) swim sessions over the last 2 months to give me the confidence that a) I wouldn’t drown, and b) I had enough in me to complete the Sprint distance.

I had joined the Bucks Country Triathlon Club for information and tips back in October and ordered my club tri-suit back in February. I picked it up in early May and it was snug but I guess it was supposed to be so it wouldn’t drag in the water. Tri-suits do not require any form of modesty whatsoever. It did fit a little more snug following our recent trip to the UK and the enormous quantities of chocolate I consumed over there…but it was worth it 🙂

The day before the race arrived and I left work a little early to head over to Mercer County Park for packet pickup. The race was being put on by CGI Racing which have put on a couple of other races I have participated in over the last couple of years, namely the LOVE Run Half Marathon and the Rutgers UNITE Half Marathon, both of which were very well run.

The packet pick up area

The packet pick up area

Tomorrow's finish line

Tomorrow’s finish line

My goal when I got to the park was to pick up my race packet, ask a couple of questions that I had and then look at any expo they had (never having been to a triathlon expo). Packet pickup was in an open field by the transition area as was the expo. It didn’t take too long to pick up the packet and then the race shirt. I then went over to the information table to ask my couple of questions. A volunteer recommended I walk the transition area to get familiar with the swim entry/exit before the race. I hadn’t thought about that but it was a great idea. It also helped calm my nerves a little to see what I would be getting myself in for.

Packet pick up was smooth

Packet pick up was smooth

There was an information booth and an area to look up your bib number if you didn't have it with you

There was an information booth and an area to look up your bib number if you didn’t have it with you.

The expo was a few tents surrounding the packet pick up

The expo was a few tents surrounding the packet pick up. It was small with a few vendors.

Once I had my packet and shirt and the volunteer had walked me through all the items in my race packet (including the ankle bracelet for the chip) I walked around in the order of the next day’s events. The swim, the bike and then the run.

I walked down to the lake to see the entry point and the exit as well as to look out over the water along the course. The first thing that struck me was that I wasn’t too intimidated by the course. I wasn’t really sure in my mind how I would have pictured the swim as I’d only seen an Ironman competition on TV and not anything shorter and having only done lap swimming and no open water swimming before I didn’t really have a sense of the length.

Swim entry point

Swim entry point

Swim course outlined by buoys

Swim course outlined by buoys

Swim entry view

Swim entry view

A panorama of the whole course from start (on right) to finish (on left).

A panorama of the whole course from start (on right) to finish (on left)

The exit of the swim

The exit of the swim

The transition area from the swim to the bike

The transition area from the swim to the bike

As I was walking along the lake I came across this sign…

Yes...that will calm my nerves!!!

Yes…that will calm my nerves!!!

So on entry to the transition area I went over to see where my bike would be set up the next day and to look for where I would be going both out and then in once I was transitioning.

Racks and racks all set up

Racks and racks all set up

My designated spot for the race

My designated spot for the race

Worth checking where to head in advance so you don't panic on the day.

Worth checking where to head in advance so you don’t panic on the day.

Walk up the chute out onto the road with the bike.

Walk up the chute out onto the road with the bike. This was both the out/in route for the bike portion.

The start to the last part of the triathlon

The start to the last part of the triathlon

The finishing chute

The finishing chute

Having walked through the area I took a look at the VIP area as the Bucks County Triathlon Club had a team tent set up for the weekend.

VIP area

VIP area

Tent placed ready for the weekend.

Tent placed ready for the weekend

Benefits of being part of a triathlon club

Benefits of being part of a triathlon club – private port-a-potty

So with the packet picked up and the walk through completed I headed off to join the family for the evening. We were getting together by the pool to chill out with the boys for the evening. I was beginning to get a little antsy so I left early to start to get my gear ready for the next day.

I needed to get my bike off the bike trainer and oil the chain and pump the tires. All was going well until….ssssssssss…what? What’s going on? sssssssss….

Yup, my rear wheel tube had split at the valve. I have to admit that at 9:30pm the night before my first triathlon and having never changed a tire on a bike in my entire life I was a little freaked!!!!

A few messages to biking friends and a post or two on Facebook groups guided me to YouTube. I must have watched the ‘How to change a tire’ video about a dozen times. Ultimately…and messily I changed my tire tube. Luckily I had a spare. When I bought my bike they threw one into my gear bag. Never thought I’d use it though!!!









Ultimately I got through this little last minute emergency and packed my bag ready for the next day.

Finally ready for the big day.

Finally ready for the big day. I bet no one else has a transition bag this cool!!!

I didn’t get much sleep that night. Between the adrenaline rush of the bike incident and the thought of the swim and how I would handle the transition my mind was racing. I got about 4.5 hours of sleep.

Race Day

I got up around 4:15am with the goal of leaving home around 5-5:15am as it was a 30 minute drive to get to the race. I was a little tired but excited. I had all my gear laid out the night before and I had my Powerbar and some water ready for when I was getting dressed. I had left random notes all over the house to remember my Garmin, to remember my water bottles in the refrigerator, etc.

Packing the car and racking my bicycle in the dark was an interesting experience. Nevertheless I was all packed up and ready to go. I headed out to the race area. By the time I got to Mercer County Park there were plenty of people there. I parked next to a lady who looked like she was an experienced triathlete. I nervously made small talk as we unpacked our cars and then made my way over to the transition area where volunteers were marking up everyone with their race numbers (number on each arm and age on one calf).

D-Day. Triathlon or bust.

D-Day. Triathlon or bust.

It was tight at the transition area as my neighbor seemed to have a lot of gear (well…a lot of space) and luckily I was at the end of the rack so I had a little extra space at the end to play with. I set up my gear and looked around at all the people there. I heard them announced the water temperature and they announced it was not wetsuit legal. I had looked this up in advance and this time of year was typically very warm so I had not rented a wetsuit for this race. Glad I hadn’t spent the money at that moment.

Setting up my gear

Setting up my gear

Pretty much ready to go

Pretty much ready to go

Craaaazy busy

Craaaazy busy

Craaaazy busy

Craaaazy busy

I made my way over to the port-a-potty’s and waited in line. The lines were not long but didn’t move fast. I figured it takes people so much extra time to get in and out of these tri-suits!!!

One last check of my transition area

One last check of my transition area

After the bathroom stop I made my way over to the transition area for one final run through of my gear, picked up my swim cap and goggles and made my way to the swim start area. I don’t have photos from here as my phone was in the transition area, my phone isn’t waterproof and my tri-suit doesn’t have any pockets. Ha. I guess I should get myself a GoPro 😉

I saw that people were being directed around the side of the boat house where they were allowed to do a practice swim. I hadn’t planned on it or given it any thought but I saw so many people going over there and it was almost an hour until my swim group went off that I decided to give it a try. After all this would be my first open water swim.

As I was walking down the ramp into the water I bumped into a colleague from work. We were both doing our first triathlon so it was nice to meet someone probably as anxious as me.

I took my first steps (it was rocky) into the water and although I didn’t follow the whole practice course I swam for about 5 minutes out and back. Wow. You cannot see anything in the water!!! At least I now how an idea of what to expect for the real deal within the next hour.

After exiting the water I bumped into a fellow Bucks County Tri-Club member and we chatted a little until I reconnected with my colleague. We hung out as the first few waves went off and he left about 10 minutes ahead of me and joined his wave.

The swim started in the water so there was none of that mad dash into the water. That was good for me as I was worried about that at the start. I only pictured what I had seen on TV and those usually are the beach starts when everyone runs in at the same time. By starting in the water I could make sure I had enough space around me when I started swimming.

Swim course

Swim course

I was given some advice before the swim which essentially was to wait for the gun (or the word to go), let the fast people go, count to ten then pick a spot and take my time going out. That would leave me a little behind everyone but out of the way of the main body of swimmers.

Eventually my wave was called to the start. As we watched the previous wave go off everyone took their place and we went into the water. The temperature was comfortable and I felt remarkably relaxed at this point. I wasn’t racing anyone but just wanted to complete the swim without any major issues. I had plenty of space around me although I did line up towards the rear. Eventually our wave was released and we were off.

Within the first 100 meters I was just focusing on staying calm and moving forward as I normally would with regular bilateral breathing every 3 strokes. At one point however I came awfully close with a fellow swimmer and almost took a mouthful of lake water. Yuk! As started to cough a little and one of the race supervisors on a nearby kayak asked if I was okay. I gave him a thumbs up and then continued on my way. Next thing I know I’m being yelled at to go left by another person in a kayak and as I looked up I was veering almost off the course. After a couple of course corrections I eventually figured out how best to keep sighting while swimming and I made it around the first turn.

I could hear another wave behind me be released as I was swimming. A little while after I made the second turn and headed in I was passed by the leader of the wave. I was swimming pretty steadily (mostly freestyle) and pretty much keeping a pace along with a bunch of other competitors and so I thought I was doing okay.

As I saw the exit approaching I focused on my form and made a beeline for the exit of the swim. As I made it to the shallow water I tried to stand up only to feel a little dizzy as I got upright. Luckily there was a volunteer in the water to catch me and hold my arm for a few moments until I could get my footing. As soon as I was steady I made my way up the exit ramp and headed out towards the transition area.

My one and only professional shot from the day - Exiting the swim

My one and only professional shot from the day – Exiting the swim. Proof I didn’t drown.

I got into the transition area and made it to my bike. I had read a few tips about bringing extra bottles of water to wash sand/grass/dirt off your feet and this was a really good tip. I dried my feet and put on some talc to help put on my Injini socks (not the easiest to put on in a rush), grabbed my bike shoes and helmet and made my way out of the transition area. Once we exited the grass area the volunteers told us to mount the bike after we crossed the red line which was the start of the bike course.

Bike course

Bike course

As I set off on my bike the sky was getting really dark. They had mentioned that there was a chance of rain towards the end of the race so I was hoping it would hold off while on the bike. I don’t mind running in the rain (although not when it was like the LOVE Run Half Marathon type of rain LOL).

I started off steadily and used the first mile to get down some water and a Gu gel packet. As I was progressing through mile 2 the rain started. Gently at first but by mile 3-4 it was steady and beginning to get harder. By mile 5 the rain was beating down hard and stinging my exposed skin. I started to see flashes of lightning and felt a little concerned about being out in a storm. I keep moving along (a decent pace for my hybrid bike) and despite the rain and the puddles was maintaining a consistent pace. I was however getting wet. Very wet. I could feel my socks squelching in my bike shoes and my bike helmet was not keeping my head dry from the elements.

Interestingly there were a number of cars on the course as we were riding and some were not very considerate to the cyclists. There police were doing a great job at the road junctions but it was still a little hairy given the conditions at the moment.

The rain was a downpour as I was approaching the last third of the bike route but I hadn’t seen any notification from the course volunteers and I hadn’t heard any siren or anything at this point.

As I approached mile 10 the rain seemed to lighten up and I made my way back into the park. I was hoping that my shoes that I had left in the transition weren’t soaked but luckily I had another pair of shoes and a dry pair of socks in my bag (which hopefully wasn’t soaked itself).

As I made my way to the transition area all of a sudden I started to see a whole bunch of folks walking on the side of the road ahead of me. I saw a few wearing medals so I just assumed these were the folks who had finished much faster than my wave. But then I heard a volunteer telling us to slow down and get off our bikes. At this point I was at mile 10.9 of the 11.5 mile route. They told us that the race had been cancelled due to lightning. I was stunned. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do at that point. I got off my bike and started walking back to the transition area in a daze.

As I walked my bike in I heard a member of the race organizing team shouting at everyone to get away from trees, metal and bikes as there was lightning in the area. They told us the transition area was closed and if we should go and sit in our cars until the storm had passed. As my keys were in the transition area I asked if I could get them and they said yes if I hurried.

I saw a bunch of folks standing under the Bucks Country Tri Club tent and so I quickly ran up and left my bike there and then ran to the transition to grab my gear. Yes it was soaked. I quickly dashed back to stand under the tent with everyone else. I was totally at a loss for words. I felt I was doing great and I was so happy to have completed the swim but I just felt that I had had the stuffing knocked out of me.

I was very disappointed. But not mad. What could I do?

We waited under the tent until the storm passed. I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I noticed while I was standing under the tent that I had damaged my front brake…needless to say that was part of my tire changing experience from the night before so I decided to say goodbye to everyone and head over to my local bicycle store (Guy’s Bicycles) and have it checked out.

As I was driving home I called my wife and told her how upset I was. She said it had been very dark but it had never rained at home. In fact the sun was out. I asked her if it would be alright if I went for a short run when I got home so I could get my mind clear and plan my next move and she was okay with that. She was disappointed for me too.

I was still dressed in my wet tri suit as I dropped off my bike but the sun was now shining again and so I quickly went home, changed my shoes and grabbed a hand-held water bottle as it was very hot by now and just went out and ran my 5K. That was pretty much all I had left to do to finish the triathlon.

I must have looked a little silly running through the local park in a skin-tight suit all marked up with permanent marker on my arms and leg but I didn’t care. I was out and I was finishing my race my way.

Feeling determined after my 5K

Feeling determined after my 5K

I took a long hot shower and hung my gear out to dry, stuffed my wet shoes with newspaper and came back to reality. I uploaded all my data after I’d had a chance to eat and relax and few hours to remove myself from the events of earlier in the day.

Overall I cannot be that disappointed. I didn’t quit, I didn’t DNF the race, the elements were out of my control. I was really pleased and proud to have completed the swim and the swim to bike transition. I learned a few lessons during that and also take away confidence that I can do this.

Looking at my stats I did a triathlon on the day. I just did it my way and didn’t give up despite the situation. It would have been too easy to be down about the experience but by getting myself out for that 5K it turned a bad situation around and I know now that I can do this.

My triathlon - my way

My triathlon – my way

My goal for next year is to return to the New Jersey State Triathlon and do the Olympic distance as I had originally intended for this year. I am confident that I will do this now. I have committed to my swim training and will only get stronger and have more endurance in a years time.

My next move was to find a local triathlon in the next few weeks to achieve my goal of completing a triathlon this season. I don’t want to wait another year. I took  a look around and settled on the Medford Lakes Colony Sprint Triathlon on Sunday August 23rd. By the end of next month I will be a triathlete.

As a follow-up, the race organizers wrote to everyone and said “A decision will be made in the next few weeks on what will be offered to our Sprint athletes please be patient as we must first do our post race due diligence.” I will wait patiently.

They also offered to send finisher medals to Sprint participants. I was not sure what to do. I usually display my race medals but I didn’t get a chance to finish this one. My wife says that after all the training and in completing the distance on the day I should take it but I don’t feel like I would want to display it. So what I have decided to do is to accept the medal, not display it but put it on the side with the goal of replacing it with the real deal in 2016. That will be my motivator. Once I have my 2016 New Jersey State Triathlon finisher medal I will donate the 2015 medal to ‘Medals 4 Mettle‘.

That is my silver lining and my motivation for next years event.

Thank you for reading.

2014 Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon race recap

2014 Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon

2014 Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

This weekend I ran the 2014 Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. I have run this event since 2011 and the last 3 years (2012-2014) I have had the opportunity to run the race alongside my wife, Shari. This was my 15th Half Marathon and 4th this year. With a few years of this race under my belt I feel like I am now able to make some reasonable comparisons to prior years and note what is good/bad compared to the prior years.

The course is the same as in the prior year and takes you from the start along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, past Independence Hall and the National Constitution Center, through China Town and then the 8 mile loop from the Philadelphia Art Museum up the East River Drive (Kelly Drive) and back down the West River Drive (Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) and finally finishing at the steps of the Art Museum.

Course Map

Course Map

The expo was held as in previous years at the Philadelphia Convention Center. This year the expo was positioned at the far end of the Convention Center near Broad Street. We had parked in our usual place when coming down to this expo and this was much further away (and not very well sign posted). I, like many other runners, entered the wrong end of the building. No big deal but I hadn’t thought to check on this being any different this year.

Bib numbers picked up and ready to Rock 'n' Roll

Bib numbers picked up and ready to Rock ‘n’ Roll

The expo as usual featured Brooks Running as a main sponsor and all the official race gear was Brooks apparel. All this is pretty much full price so I go to see what is new and then look at either the Brooks website or my favorite running store if I want to get something for a little less without the race logo. What was different this year was that the Brooks Run Happy Tour Bus was not present. Last year they had set up some a cool area with some chances to win some Brooks promos and play some games (remember the mechanical shoe/bull?) and they also had a shoe fitting consultation area. Back in 2011 they had a fun area and I think also in 2012. Nothing of that sort was there this year.

Plenty of Brooks race gear

Plenty of Brooks race gear as main sponsor

Once into the expo proper there were the usual vendors you tend to see at expos (One More Mile, Spibelt, Fitletic, etc.) but what was noticeable was that there were few other races represented. There was a small table set aside for the New Jersey Marathon and the Baltimore Marathon but I didn’t see any other races present. There was no runDisney booth as there had been in prior expos. We did see the Atlantic City races and noticed that they have changed their banner (we were on the old one). Even the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series booth was pretty sparse compared to prior years. They used to have some fun props to take pictures and the displays were definitely more ‘blinged out’ in prior years. It was very low key this year.

I did stop by the INKnBURN booth to say hello (I’m an INKnBURN Ambassador) and also managed to buy something else while there. They had a really cool banner on their stall which showed the races they were attending. I was lucky enough to get one of the drop bags that showed this art. Cool. (FYI – If you are interested in any of their gear you can use my Ambassador code for a discount on your purchases. My code is ‘INBians14’).

INKnBURN booth

INKnBURN booth

Cool artwork representing the INKnBURN brand at the Rock 'n' Roll series

Cool artwork representing the INKnBURN brand at the Rock ‘n’ Roll series

Anyway, we got what we came for (our bibs and shirts) and I had plans to meet up with my fellow Mickey Milers for dinner. My wife and the boys headed back home and I stayed around for a while until it was time to meet for dinner. Fortunately the Convention Center is located on top of the Reading Terminal Market and so that is a great place to wander and investigate (plus it got me out of spending any more money at the expo). I grabbed some fresh baked cookies and headed to Maggiano’s Little Italy to meet up with my fellow Mickey Milers who were in from out of town and able to make it to dinner (Janee, Brittany and David). The cookies were good.

Wandering around the Reading Terminal Market

Wandering around the Reading Terminal Market

I grabbed a bakers dozen of fresh cookies

I grabbed a bakers dozen of fresh cookies

Mikey Milers bonding over round carbs

Mikey Milers bonding over round carbs at dinner

At home that night we did our pre-race routine of setting out our gear so that we could be up and out early for race day.

Flat Ian the night before

Flat Ian the night before

Flat Shari the night before

Flat Shari the night before

At 6am on race day we picked up my father-in-law who was running the event too and headed down to Philadelphia. It was a warm morning as we arrived and there was no need for any throwaway shirt or trash bag to wear in the corrals. As we were walking to the corrals I met up with my fellow Mickey Miler, Joe, who I ran with in the Gary Papa 5K back in June. He has been working with a coach and the results are definitely showing.

It was really crowded near the bag check and port-a-potties and it took a while to get through the lines. I wasn’t able to attend the pre-race photo for the Mickey Milers that morning as I was in line. Once we were all checked into the gear trucks we made arrangements with my father-in-law where to meet post-race and Shari and I headed to our corral for the start. We were in corral 7 so not too far back. We saw the last corral (22) starting as we were heading back up the Parkway around mile 4. My father-in-law said he was in his corral (19) for almost 40 minutes before crossing the start line. It was a big race with 15,537 finishers (per the official results).

Arriving at the starting area pre-race

Arriving at the starting area pre-race

Busy morning looking back along corrals

Busy morning looking back along corrals

In our corral waiting for the word to go

In our corral waiting for the start

While standing in our corral my wife mentioned that she wished she had something to drink. I also said I wish I had drunk a little more before we got in the corral. It was a warm and humid morning. It was muggy enough that you could not see the top of the Comcast Tower a few blocks away on Market Street. My wife, of course, found someone she knew in the corral. We just cannot go anywhere without bumping into someone we know 🙂

Cloudy and muggy morning

Cloudy and muggy morning

We set off just a few minutes behind the leaders and started the race. We may have gone out too fast (well, not may, we did) but we had in mind a goal of breaking 2 hours for the day. Around mile 2 we bumped into our friend Mayela and her friend Matt. We have run half marathons in 3 States (including California) and at some point during these races we have run into her. She seems to be our lucky charm.

Running down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, John F Kennedy Boulevard and Market Street provides a lot of space for the runners as the streets are wide, but then around mile 3 you turn into the older part of the city and then the streets get a little narrower and runners start to bunch up. It is not unbearable but it does get noticeable in spots. However, the run up Arch Street (through Chinatown and behind the Convention Center) leads directly back to the Parkway and the loop around the River which widens up quite a bit.

This is, of course, a Rock ‘n’ Roll race and so we are to expect bands on the course throughout the race. Anyone who is a first timer to these races may be somewhat disappointed by the number of performers out on the course. I think it was similar to the last couple of years so I wasn’t too surprised to see them spread out throughout the course. There were definitely lots of quiet stretches around the river. The Philadelphia Marathon (and Half Marathon) in November seems to have much more enthusiastic and deeper crowds along the route.

One thing of note for anyone considering this race is that for all the half marathons held in Philadelphia that I have run (Rock ‘n’ Roll, Philadelphia Marathon/Half Marathon and the LOVE Run) all have different routes around the city. That is a plus as it does offer variety to the runner and you get a different experience every time. I have to say that my favorite route is the first half of the Philadelphia Marathon.

With it being a warm morning and already being thirsty in addition to having gone out too fast it all began to take its toll on us. Both my wife and I are in the peak of training for the Baltimore Marathon next month and we are in the middle of those 20 mile runs so understandably we are a little fatigued. In addition, my wife worked the day before and was on her feet (and apparently not hydrating too much) while she was working an event. I think it all caught up with us today.

My wife is a speedy little one and we both have half marathon PRs in the low 1:50s so we were thinking 2 hours was definitely possible. We had finished the last two years at 2:05 and 2:03 so we figured we would be around 2:00 without issues. This unfortunately did not turn out to be the case this year. We slowed down but the damage was done around mile 4. My wife developed a bad stich in her side and we took it easy, walked it out when necessary and just plugged through.

Around mile 8 as we cross over the Falls Bridge to the other side of the river she felt a little better and you can see from the splits that we did indeed pick up the pace. It was getting warmer but thankfully the sun was still behind the cloud cover so it wasn’t too hot but it was certainly humid. The last few miles were very much a ‘head down and focus’ effort so nothing too exciting (although of course more people knew my wife out there).

One thing I noticed as did a few other runners along the course with us (and my father-in-law agreed) was that the mile markers seemed off. This is a certified course and I know that we non-elites tend to weave around people a lot but by mile 3 my Garmin GPS watch said 3.25 miles. That 0.25 mile differential was consistent through the rest of the race so I guess those wide roads early on in the race added all that extra distance vs. going at the angles. Oh well, extra calories burned.

We finished the race in 2:07. Not a disaster but I think we were both disappointed. My wife especially was a little disappointed until I pointed out all the factors that I mentioned earlier (fatigue, humidity and dehydration). It wasn’t a bad effort and we were both still smiling at the finish which is what really counts. We will chalk this up to experience and better prepare in the future.

Splits Miles 1 to 10

Splits Miles 1 to 10

Splits Mile 10 to 13

Splits Mile 10 to Finish

We got our medals which for the first time actually had a decent ribbon attached. I guess they read our runners survey comments from the last two years finally. We cooled down and ate a little while we waited for my father-in-law to finish. This was his longest run in many years (he’s making a comeback!!) and he guessed he would run the course in 2:30. He actually finished in 2:31. Nice.

Receiving our medals all smiles

Receiving our medals all smiles

Nice medal (and ribbon)

Nice medal (and ribbon)

We did it

We did it

As we waited we listened to the awards presentation where we learned that Deena Kastor had set 5 (yes 5) Masters records during the day and that the men’s winner had run a 59:20 Half Marathon. Wow. This was followed by ‘Rusted Root’ the headline performers for the post-race concert.

On the way back to our car we bumped into Mayela and her crew and my fellow Mickey Milers who had finished around the same time. Joe broke 2 hours in the Half for a new PR. Well done Joe. After a few pictures we headed back to the parking lot to drive (a slow creep) out of the city and head home for a full afternoon of activities.

Post-race with the Mickey Milers (Janee, Brittany and Joe)

Post-race with the Mickey Milers (Janee, Brittany and Joe)

Shari with Mayela and friend

Shari with Mayela and friend

Wearing our race shirts to go apple picking with our boys

Wearing our race shirts to go apple picking with our boys

Overall it was a great weekend and the race result wasn’t too disappointing in the grand scheme of things. Having run this event 4 years in a row now I may look further afield next year for some Fall races. We had a limited schedule this year due to a family wedding and being away during November. I do like the locations for some of the other Rock ‘n’ Roll series races and so I would definitely take an interest in running another one of their events. My wife mentioned another West Coast trip so we shall see.

Thank you for reading.



Inaugural LOVE RUN Philadelphia Race Recap


Yesterday I swam ran the inaugural LOVE RUN in Philadelphia.

When planning my schedule for 2014 post the ‘Dopey Challenge‘ I hadn’t wanted to race too much as I was focusing on the New Jersey Marathon at the end of April but I was ‘encouraged’ to sign up. To explain briefly, with myself, my Wife and Sister-in-law all running Disney events early this year my future Brother-in-law (Mike) felt he needed to get in on the racing action and signed up for this race. I was ‘encouraged’ to sign up so he didn’t have to run the race (or at least participate in the race) alone. My new role as race coordinator I guess. Anyway, this was the first LOVE RUN event so it was interesting to see how this race course and organization compared to other half marathons that are run here in the City of Brotherly Love. In the past I have run the Philadelphia Rock and Roll Half Marathon (in 2011, 2012 and 2013) and the Philadelphia Marathon (which also has a half marathon on the first part of the course in 2011, 2012 and 2013).

The course itself differed from these other two races which was a nice change (they didn’t release the course details until a couple of weeks before the race) so it would be enjoyable to run a different course. The race (like the others) started and finished along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and took a brief circuit around the city before venturing up into Fairmount Park and past the Please Touch Museum (Memorial Hall) before an out and back along West River Drive (Martin Luther King Drive) to the steps the Art Museum. Only one real hill to deal with (although it was a big one) and pretty flat until you hit the last quarter-mile to the finish which is all uphill too.

LOVE RUN Half Marathon Course

LOVE RUN Half Marathon Course

I was unable to attend the expo for this event so Mike picked up the bibs and race swag for me so I am unable to offer a review of that process. The race organizers (CGI Racing) offered vanity bibs on sign up so you could request a phrase or slogan instead of your name. I honestly don’t remember requesting this slogan but I was okay with it. In addition to the race shirt (a little black number 🙂 ) we received a mug with the race logo. Nice.

My race bib

My race bib

As we approached race weekend the weather forecast wasn’t looking too promising. Indeed, our plans for that weekend (a pre-season Phillies game) were called off due to the weather. I had mixed feelings about what to wear for the race based upon the conditions predicted. I ended up choosing a short-sleeved t-shirt with arm sleeves in case it warmed up. I also packed a changed of clothes should I need to change (Ha! Should I?…more on that later).

Mike arrived early Sunday with my bib and we headed down to Philadelphia together. I decided to park in an indoor lot to stay warm as we were a little early. This was a good choice for us later.

I think the shirt was pretty appropriate given the conditions on the day

I think the shirt was pretty appropriate given the conditions on the day

Early morning arrival. Mike and I stay warm in the car until its time to go to the start line.

Early morning arrival. Mike and I stay warm in the car until its time to go to the start line.

At the bag check area. Already looking a little muddy behind us.

At the bag check area. Already looking a little muddy behind us.

As we arrived at the starting area the weather was a little misty and had started to rain lightly. As we waited for our turn to the port-a-potties the ground was already damp due to the previous days rainfall and was already getting a little muddy and squishy (that’s a very scientific description). As we were getting ready to check our bags I pulled out a poncho I had packed and realized I had two. It was Mike’s lucky day!! Glad I saved these from our trip to Niagara Falls back in 2012 🙂

Ponchos ready to go

Poncho Buddies

The race announcer said there were around 10,000 runners in attendance and encouraged us to get to our corrals early. The corrals were not assigned numbers or letters but the bibs corresponded to predicted time so lower numbers were closer to the front and higher numbers to the rear. Mike and I headed to the corrals together which was quite an obstacle course. As the ground was wet most people stuck to the pathways which meant that we couldn’t just cross Eakins Oval to the corrals but had to maneuver around fencing put up by the organizers. At one point this involved climbing into the (dry) fountain and around a gate. A bit of a challenge when it was wet and slippy. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not blaming the organizers for the weather it’s just that I’ve never had to think about getting to a corral this much before. This couldn’t be helped but perhaps they might in future want to on the day look at the positioning of some of the barriers to see if they could be opened up a little more (without messing up any security in place).

As you can see from my start line photo it was very misty. You could not see the tops of the skyscrapers in the city. The rain also started to pick up a little once we got situated in the corrals (around 7:45am for an 8:00am start).

Misty morning in the corrals

Misty morning in the corrals

Not my usual pre-race attire. There is always a first time.

Not my usual pre-race attire.

I hadn’t really raced a half marathon for time since last April’s April Fools Half Marathon when I PR’d on a flat course in dry conditions. I didn’t have a plan to try to PR but I wanted to see based upon my training if I could get close to that time. I had two goals going in (1) to perhaps PR…long shot but worth a try, and (2) run a sensible race but shoot for sub 2 hours…more realistic based upon how I felt. I was trying to be a little more serious for this race so I didn’t plan on taking any photos during the race. It wouldn’t have been a great idea anyway based upon conditions. I did however decide to run with music which was the first time in a race for me since the 2011 Philadelphia Rock and Roll Half Marathon. I wanted to relax a bit and enjoy the run. I do however have to work on my playlist…it’s very confusing running to a mix of Disney tunes mixed with rock but I digress…

As the race started the rain started to pick up. Within a half mile I could feel the rain kicking up behind me and my compression socks were already beginning to get damp. I had thrown off my poncho before we crossed the start line but some other runners were less considerate. Although I saw people the whole way through running with ponchos, the first mile or so had me dodging, leaping and hopping over discarded ponchos in the middle of the course where within the first mile it is always crowded. It was already wet and slippy without these added hazards. I hope no one slipped and fell and I hope that my fellow runners in future would be aware of this and at least discard trash bag ponchos at the side of the course. Okay…off my soapbox.

With the rain and wind picking up we threaded our way through the streets of Philadelphia towards and past Independence Hall and then turned back towards the Parkway at around mile 3. There were no water stations on the first few miles of the course (not that I saw any if there were). According to the course map I had run past two water stations but if I missed them I didn’t see any tell-tale signs of water stations (discarded cups by the side of the street). By mile 3.5 we were back on the Parkway running up towards the Art Museum. I could already feel my shoes were wet inside due to the conditions. Oh well, only 10 miles to go.

As we rounded the Art Museum to the left around mile 4 I moved over to the left (as I tend to stick to one side for my run/walk Galloway intervals) and completely missed the first water station. Ugh. I was moving at a decent pace and I actually was wishing for a water stop. I didn’t want to cross in front of anyone so I just ran on down the underpass towards the entrance to Fairmount Park. Keeping to the side for my run/walk intervals was a challenge as this was where the water was draining off to. I tried my best to avoid the puddles but this was harder and harder as the rain became more intense during the race. In fact the water started to encroach on the width of the course for all runners in some low-lying points of the course.

As we made our way up to Memorial Hall there is the largest incline on the course. Luckily my walk interval came at the right time. We were already close to mile 6 but this stage. I desperately needed something to drink by now and did carefully weave my way across the flow to grab two cups of water. I managed to soak myself pretty good with two cups but I was wet already so I didn’t notice too much 🙂

Rounding in front of Memorial Hall took us on a minor out and back towards the downhill leading to the real out and back on West River Drive. As I approached the water station at mile 7 it was congested and so I ran to the furthest table only to find I had grabbed orange Gatorade! Yuck!!!! I’m not sure if it is just me but in every other race I seem to have run it is electrolytes first and then water second. All the cups were the same nondescript design so it wasn’t obvious what was in them. Oh well, I guess it was better than no fluids at all.

What goes up must come down. After the big incline leading up to the park we then got to run down the decline down to the out and back along the river. The out and back was from just after mile 7 to just after mile 9 which then turned us back home to the finish line area. By the time I got to mile 9 I was just totally soaked through. The rain seemed to get heavier (even sideways at some points) as we progressed through the morning. I was wearing gloves to keep my hands warm but by this stage they were just like sponges and I was making fists to squeeze the water out. It was also getting colder and from about my waist to my knees I was getting a little numb. Oh the joy!

I was however running a definite negative split. I had run my first half of the race at an even paced 8:40(ish) pace and I was now running at an average pace of 8:36 from about mile 9 onwards. I knew that I would probably not make that PR today but I felt confident that I was going to have a good time and meet my second goal. Heading to the finish over the last 5K was quite an experience. I was running well and felt comfortable despite the rain. The rain however was making quite an impact on the road surface and if there was a puddle I seemed to find it. I saw plenty of folks who were still on the ‘out’ part of the course still wearing their rain ponchos and plastic bags. I’m not sure how much this would have helped at this point as it was getting heavier. I looked at their faces as I was running the other way and people didn’t seem to mind too much. I guess if you’re wet enough you cannot get any wetter 🙂

I made it to mile 13 and I rounded the corner to the finish line. Crossing the timing mat near the finish I heard my name being called by the announcer and with a grin from ear to ear I ran across the finish line and quickly glanced down at my watch.

This sums up the day (thankfully my Garmin is waterproof)

This sums up the day (thankfully my Garmin is waterproof)

Here is my official result:

Official Results

Official Result

I missed my PR by 41 seconds (Atlantic City Half Marathon 2013) but considering the conditions I was very pleased with my run. A negative split indicates that I did run sensibly for the half marathon and I feel good going into the marathon next month.

The race medal

The race medal

Grateful for the mylar but still cold

Grateful for the mylar but still cold

I made it through the finish line area where thankfully they were handing out mylar blankets to all the finishers. I did not stay in the area to see whether they had enough for the later finishers but it was very welcome. A nice plus for this race is that everyone gets a free finish line photograph courtesy of the race and Chessie Photos.

At the finish line

At the finish line (courtesy of Chessie Photos)

From the finish line we went through a tented area to grab our post race food. Everyone was provided with a plastic bag with local Philly favorites (a soft pretzel, a Tastykake, a bag of chips, a Smucker’s Crustable PB&J and a banana) and beyond that there was an area serving hot chocolate. The ground was pretty saturated by this point and getting across to the hot chocolate station involved traversing what looked like a rainy outdoor concert area. The hot chocolate was nice and warm though.

photo 5 (1)

The finish line area around Eakins Oval

photo 3 (3)

The finish line area around Eakins Oval

The finish line area around Eakins Oval

The finish line area around Eakins Oval

I am so grateful my wife had talked me out of wearing my new shoes for this race. I am trying to break in a new pair before the marathon and had only run twice in them so far. These shoes were absolutely saturated and a little muddy (I trod carefully) and luckily after some TLC they are wearable again.

Muddy spongelike shoes

Muddy sponge like shoes

Finally got my gear bag. Water is still dripping from my face. Soaked, shivering but happy.

Finally got my gear bag. Water is still dripping from my face. Soaked, shivering but happy.

I waited around for Mike to finish. Unfortunately there were no places to take shelter so by the time we finally met up I was so cold I was visibly shaking. We had a hard time reaching each other at the finish line as our phones and fingers were so wet our iPhones became practically inoperable. I couldn’t answer calls because my fingers swipes had no effect on the phone. Hmm…technology is fabulous until it stops working on you.

With Mike and I finally reunited we headed for my car which I had fortunately parked in an indoor garage. I was unable to put my parking ticket in the machine as that was also soaked (ugh) and thankfully the cashier did not check my signature on the debit card slip I signed as I was shivering so much it looked like hieroglyphics and not my handwriting at all. Finally making it to the car we (very modestly) stripped down to put on dry clothes. I unfortunately still had to wear my soaked shoes and socks until I got home but my heated seats never felt so good.

After a (very long) hot shower I had feeling back in all my extremities and had the chance to relax a little. I got a chance to put on my race shirt and admire my new medal.

Nice and warm at last

Nice and warm at last

My new bling

My new bling

It was a nice first event. Nothing at all could be done about the weather so it was unfortunate from that respect. I did enjoy the course as it was different from others I have run in Philly. I think an improvement next year would definitely be in the areas of the water stations and perhaps maybe some shelter provided at the staging areas in case the weather is similar. CGI should be commended on this as an inaugural effort. Volunteers were plenty on the course and they were great to be standing out there in the rain for all those hours. You always have to thank the volunteers but this goes beyond your typical thanks. Well done. I will return I hope next year (with my wife running alongside me too) and hope for some more agreeable springlike weather for 2015.

Thank you for reading.