We are about a week removed from the Rutgers Half Marathon now, and I have to say I really love this race. This was the second year for me participating in the half marathon and it is hands down one of my favorites. The weather that morning could not have been more perfect, and the race was a smooth as ever.
6:45am-My mom, sister, and I arrived on Busch campus. Parking was at capacity already near the race start so we parked near the football stadium (only a 5 minute walk to the starting line). The temperature was a little chillier than we expected so I sat in the car a minute debating last minute what to wear. I knew that whatever I brought along I didn’t plan on discarding whatsoever so I knew I had to think carefully. I was already wearing my black running capris with my blue Fila tank top. Over that I wore my light Fila jacket which turned out not to be enough to keep warm at that time. I also brought along my Nike headband and NYC Marathon long sleeved shirt just in case. After five minutes of pondering I decided that I would remove the Fila jacket and wear my long sleeve shirt over the tank. I took my headband with me and put it on under my hat so this way I can keep warm beforehand. If I warmed up a few miles into the race, I could just simply take it off.We spotted 4 porta potties near where we parked so we figured we would take advantage of that before heading over to the “bathroom corrals”. Afterward, we made our way from the stadium toward the race area.
7:35am The lines for the porta potties were already getting longer, as expected. We still had some time before lining up at the start, so we hung around a bit then got in line for the toilets one last time. My mom and sister were running the 8k, so they had a little more time than I (the half started at 8) By the time we were out of the bathroom line, it was time for me to line up. I gave my mom and sis a hug and kiss, wished them luck in their race then headed over to the starting line. After the National Anthem the runner next to me wished me good luck, and I wished them the same. 30 seconds later, the wheelchair division was off. Another 30 seconds in, it was go time for us.
8:05am-Here we go! The course was the same as last year, so I expected some minor hills right in the very beginning. I warmed up pretty quickly as well, so I removed my headband and it stayed around my neck for the remainder of the race. Last year, I ended up having to use the porta potty at mile 2 (rookie move) This year I made sure that wasn’t going to happen. The first 7 miles actually flew by fairly quickly. Miles 1-6 loops back around to the starting line where we pass once again as we start heading toward Johnson Park. I was taking in water and Gatorade at every aid station, and I took my Gu gel at mile 6 (which is always my race strategy) Sometimes, I have a bad habit of pulling out the Gu at mile 5 1/2, then forgetting about it until mile 7. I made that error during the Fred Lebow half and got a little bit dizzy miles 8-9. But at Rutgers, I was fine. Around mile 6 I hit a major runner’s high to the point where I couldn’t distinguish whether it was a good dizzy or a bad dizzy. The feeling is awesome and to achieve it during a race is even more rewarding. I’ve hit runner’s high only a few times during my training runs, but experiencing it during a race was a first. Add the spectators cheers, bright sun, and music in your headphones and damn, you’re in another world. The high wore off when I had to unfortunately stop to use the porta potty to prevent dehydration. I returned to the course and I was suddenly back in the real world.
After looping back around and passing through the starting line for a second time, you know you are pretty much more than halfway. Mile 8 is not far after that checkpoint, and mile 9 is on the bridge before descending into Johnson Park. Miles 9-11 were all in Johnson Park. After passing mile 10, it was an out and back until mile 11, where we exit the park and make our way toward the finish.I was run/walking more during miles 11-12 because my legs were beginning to feel it at that point. I figured once I turned onto College Avenue (the home stretch) I would just run strong to the finish, and that’s exactly what I did. Of course when you spot race photographers, you also try not to look like you got beat up. I smiled as best as I could when I saw them, although there were one or two where I later found out I didn’t. In fact in one picture, I looked like I was in pure beast mode which I was, and it looked pretty amazing.
After making the right turn onto College Ave, the finish line was just literally down the road. After you hit mile 13, you can see it clearly. My mom and my sister were standing near some dorms on the sidelines taking some pictures of me running through the finish. As I approached the end, the race announcer goes, ” What’s up Caitlin, how you feeling!?” To which I threw my arms up in the air, shouted “Wooooooo!” and crossed the finish. I had just completed my fifth half marathon. Overall I was still feeling pretty good. So good in fact I though I had another 13 miles in me to complete a marathon that day. Yes, that good. One of the volunteers handed me my finisher medal, I grabbed a fresh water bottle then found my mom and sis. From the finish line it was a little bit of a walk back to the stadium, but it felt good to stretch out the legs a bit. And that was that, my second Rutgers half marathon completed.
Will I be running this race a gain next year? Absolutely. CGI Racing does a fabulous job organizing their events, and one day perhaps I will participate in another one of their races (NJ Triathalon perhaps??) We shall see. My next race is May 7th at the Palisades, but it could be sooner if I decide to run that half marathon in Central Park at the end of April. We shall see!
Congratulations to all finishers at the Rutgers Half Marathon & 8K! Great race guys!