Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Jersey Half and the first ever Fall River Solo Marathon

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It's been a while since our New Jersey mini-vacation in early May -- apologies for not posting all this stuff earlier, but both have us have been either busy or sick with colds, or both.

To summarize: Nik and I went to New Jersey on May 2 to run the marathon (her) and half-marathon (him).  By that time, both of us were kind of burned out on training and not terribly excited to race New Jersey, even though we picked that running destination because it has a reputation of being a fast and flat racing course. At some point before the race, we both decided we weren't in the mood to race the course -- just to run it.

The area of New Jersey we were in, Long Branch, consists mainly of highways and roads and complicated U-turn areas during which you turn around to go on the opposite side of the highways and roads. Now we know why they're called Jersey barriers. You ain't kidding. Nik and I aren't sure why New Jersey hasn't discovered the beauty of a nice grassy median and turn-signal yet, but once it does, look out! It'll do for New Jersey traffic congestion what the pointed stick did for catching buffalo. I don't mean to tell New Jersey how to redesign their highways, but I will say this: It doesn't matter if the Walgreen's is a block down the road from the hotel. Everything is 20 minutes away once you factor in all the U-turning.

The day before: Anyway, Nik and I had a good time outside of the car. But once again, we discovered that it's tricky managing her dietary requirements having to eat out at restaurants for every meal. For those of you keeping score, she:

  • is hypoglycemic, so she has to eat every 2 hours to keep her blood sugar stable
  • should not eat more than 200g of carbs a day because of her blood sugar situation
  • avoids bread and wheat products because of the above
  • tries not to eat too much dairy because it upsets her stomach after a while
  • can't eat peanuts or tree nuts or she'll have an allergic reaction

That leaves her with fruit, vegetables, and meat -- a good, healthy range of food there, but it's tricky because restaurants sneak stuff into food they shouldn't sneak in there. We went out for sushi the day before the race. Some people wonder if this is a good idea. Of course it is. Sushi is a pretty ideal pre-race food. You've got some carbs in the rice (but not too many) and nice clean protein that isn't spiced with anything weird that'll repeat on you.

The problem is that this sushi restaurant sprinkled on her rice what we realized later were toasted sesame seeds. She's not allergic to sesame seeds -- but she IS allergic to the peanut oil they likely used to toast them. Even after we told the waitress Nik was allergic to peanuts. Bastards!

So the night before the race, Nik started to notice her tongue swelling and her throat closing up. She sometimes takes antihistamines to help make it bearable until it goes away, but this time it was worse than before. So she pulled out her EpiPen, a self-injecting needle containing adrenaline, which is supposed to help stop the allergic reaction. I stabbed her in the leg with it and she began to feel better immediately -- then she realized her heart was pounding out of her chest. We gave her some time to see if she'd calm down, but she didn't -- so it was off to the emergency room we went at 3 a.m. to get some treatment. A few Benadryl and prednisone later, they sent us home, and Nik decided that she was in no condition to run 26.2 miles in a few hours. She was in no condition to sleep, either. She sat up all night watching "School of Rock" on TBS. Twice.

The race itself: I didn't feel like running the half, not with my wife awake all night with a swollen throat and a pounding heart -- but since we drove all the way there, she insisted I do it instead of wasting a trip.

I've written on the Daily Mile how the race went. I should let that speak for me. Not much I have to add to it, except this: I'm not running a half again for the rest of the year. I might tackle one again early next year, but for now I'm perfectly happy not running that long a distance.

Aftermath: We hobbled home, sore and full of prescription medication, and it wasn't more than a day before Nik was already talking about making up for her lost marathon by running 26.2 miles alone on the streets of Fall River. She spent a few days planning it and then set out on the first of three loops, coming back to the house briefly to refill a bottle with HEED and then set out again.

She wrote all about it on Daily Mile. Check that out here. She didn't have 10,000 other people elbowing her aside and Bruce Springsteen music and garden hoses spraying the street, but 26 miles is still 26 miles.

Handy tips, in case you ever decide to run the New Jersey Marathon:
  • If you're allergic to peanuts and you tell that to the waitress, say this, "No, seriously. I'm really fucking allergic to peanuts and anything that has to do with peanuts. Got it?"
  • Go for a walk on the beach the day before. The beaches aren't like New England beaches, unbearable to walk on with knife-sharp seashells and bits of crab that a seagull dropped. We're talking acres of fine sand. It's like a free foot massage.
  • Prepare to spend 80% of your day in traffic. Wherever you drive, take a travel pillow and an assortment of snacks.
  • They give you a grape-acai berry drink at the end of the course, not water. Do your mouth a favor and throw it away instead of drinking it. It's vile. It wasn't just me who thought that. Everyone who drank it said so.
  • There are ice-cold orange slices at mile 10 or so. Grab some with one hand, and with the other take a handful of ice. You'll thank me when you hit the long, hot, unshaded stretch that hugs the beach.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The New Jersey Situation

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Hey, everybody! Dan here. Nik and I are in New Jersey, ready to run the NJ Marathon (that's Nik) and the half-marathon (that's me). The weather in Long Branch is hot and dry, around 75 to 80 degrees. We're prepping for race day tomorrow by consuming massive amounts of fish and drinking gallons of water (it's the fishes' natural habitat).

I'm not sure if the NJ Marathon has online tracking. If they do, my bib number is 7770 and Nik's is 488. Apparently you can also watch the marathon streaming online at http://www.njdiscover.com.

Don't expect PRs from us, because we're actually not going for them. Nik's treating this run like a long training run and will actually be running with the 4:45 pace group, well below her marathon PR. I'm going to be running with a 12:35 min/mile pace group which should get me across the finish line in 2:44, which is my half PR. If I'm feeling up to it with a few miles left by the end, I might kick it up toward the end to shave a few minutes off -- but I'm not going to pull out any heroics here. We're both just going to run, not race.

Anyway, on to some fun stuff. Things we have seen so far:

  • The first night we were here, a couple got married on the beach at Long Branch. They had a small string section playing an orchestral version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." It was awesome.
  • An old Mafia-looking dude wearing sunglasses over a massive bandage that covered one of his eyes.
  • Lots of studded belts.
  • A kid in a grocery store wearing a straw fedora watched his younger brother pull the cart backward into the store. The cart smacked into a display of plants. The kid in the fedora said, "Good job."
  • Some kids fished a stingray thrashing onto the beach in Sea Bright, NJ. 
  • "The Longest Yard" remake on hotel room HBO. It wasn't good.
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