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Nov 10 / Jane

Trenton Double Cross Half Marathon 2013

The Trenton Double Cross was my first half marathon last year.  This year’s race is my 5th.  I signed up for the 2013 race as soon as registration opened, then volunteered to be an Ambassador for the race.  Which means, I work a day for the race and promote it through social media and word of mouth until race day to earn free entry.  It was an easy thing to do since I had such an amazing experience last year.  I even convinced Alex to make the Double Cross his first 10k race!

The day I’d chosen to work was the Expo on Friday.  I took off work and arrived at the Lafayette Yard Hotel just before 10am and handed out race shirts along side one of the organizer’s mother.  She was so sweet, we had a great time together, and it really made the day just fly by.  I was hoping to be off my feet more than I was the day before race-day, but oh well, I spent the evening on the couch working out last minute day-of logistics.  I coordinated my outfit (by the projected temperatures, 36 at the start, 45 by the time I finish, clear and not windy); planned a pre-race meet-up spot with friends; and set my alarm.

Race morning went smoothly, I woke up with my alarm after a decent sleep, ate breakfast and dressed in my pre-planned outfit.  Alex and I met friends Dan and Issy in the parking lot and walked to the start where we met up with Sally; Bill, John and Antonio from PI; and Claire, her friend Beth, and her boyfriend Matt (who would be spectating).  Dan and Issy ran to the restroom and missed our pre-race photo.  With about 10 minutes to the start of the race, we headed into the corral.

The guys ran the 10k, ladies ran the half.

The guys ran the 10k, ladies ran the half.

I bee-lined for the 9min mile pacer and introduced myself.  This was my goal race, the one where I run a sub-2 hour half marathon.  Ideally, I would love to run a consistent 9min mile pace, which would get me to a 1:58 finish.  I felt fairly confident in this goal and I was thrilled to have a pacer!

The 8am race start was delayed like last year, but about quarter-after the Revolutionary War Re-enactors fired muskets signaling the start of the race.  We started with a loop through the Trenton Tunnel.  My watch lost satellite reception in the tunnel and was off about .15 when we hit the first mile marker (a little fast, 8:30 or so).  I chatted with the pacer and others in the group through mile 2, into downtown Trenton, past the State House, and through a couple more turns into the hilly Mill Hill Neighborhood.  I accidentally stopped my watch for about half a mile when pulling up my sleeves between miles 3 and 4.  After mile 4, we merged with the 10k race (which was set to start at 8:30am) and headed over the Trenton Makes Bridge.  At mile 5, the pacer noted, once again, we were running too fast for 9min mile.  I was starting to feel it, we were averaging 8:50-8:55 pace.  He kept saying he’d hold back, get us to a 9min mile pace, but that never happened.

We were running through Morrisville, PA, past mile 6 and then up a ridiculously steep, very short, but inconvenient hill when I saw my co-workers at the top of the hill.  Around the corner, I was chatting with the pacer when Alex turned around in front of me!  Surprise!!  Alex was on mile 4 of his race, and looking pretty good!  We ran together over the Calhoun Street Bridge, then he turned right back to the stadium to finish and I turned left, up Route 29 to the Parkway Drive exit.

Mile 8 marked the exit to Cadwalader Park, and that is where I lost the pace group.  Parkway Drive is a long slow hill up to the entrance of the park, then the hill continues in the park.  I took it easy up the hills and tried to make up a little bit on the way back.  Out of the park, I saw all my friends, Sally, followed by Issy, Beth, Claire and Dan.  Back on Route 29, I hit the 10 mile mark and then 11.  I was trying to do some math estimating how I was doing with my sub-2 goal, but I couldn’t remember what time we started.  There were no clocks on the course and the pacer was no where in sight.  Ugh.  I made the decision to just run it and make this race count, PR or not.

We finished up with one final loop off Route 29, then back on the highway to the stadium.  In front of Rho, the 9min mile pacer showed up and asked me how I was feeling.  Great, I think.  He assured me I’d done it and to finish strong.  I’d missed the 12 mile marker, also 13, and entered the stadium searching for a clock.  The only one I saw was at the finish line, and it had just ticked over 1:58.  Alright!!

My official finish time is 1:57:26, an awesome PR for me, and well under my 2 hour goal!  I’m thrilled!  I had my doubts and was a little frustrated running blind for my goal race.  But I was confident in my ability and trusted my training.  I am also grateful for the massive support I had from friends, family and my running group.  You all are the best!!

The boys, Alex, Bill, John, and Matt, were in the stands along the 3rd base line, waiting to cheer us all as we finished.  I stayed on the field to run my friends to the finish.  Sally arrived first, as we’re running around the stadium, she announces that this is a PR for her!  A PR, 6 days after running the NYC Marathon!  Absolutely incredible!  She finished in 2:07:54.  Next, Claire and Beth arrived together, finishing in 2:15:58 and 2:15:59 respectively.  Amazingly awesome for Claire’s first half marathon!  She looked great at the finish, like she runs half marathons all the time.  😉  Once Issy and Dan finished, we headed up into the stands for a group “after” picture.

Speedy Ladies!

Speedy Ladies!

There we learned, John had also PR’ed in the 10k, over 5 minutes from his last race!  Bill chased him coming in 15 seconds behind to clinch a 2nd place age-group victory; and Alex broke the 1 hour barrier by nearly 5 minutes, finishing in 55:31!  I was on Cloud 9 from my PR and I couldn’t be more happy to celebrate everyone’s victories!

FINISHERS!

FINISHERS!

Not the best photo of us, but we just ran 10k and 13.1mi respectively!

Not the best photo of us, but we just ran 10k and 13.1mi respectively!

PI Picture!

PI Picture!

We walked over to Rho for our free beer and sandwich sliver.  It was a little disappointing, but I did get a chance to chat with the overall race winner, and running friend, Bill G.  He recapped his race experience and promised to be at PI again soon.  After that Alex, Sally, Bill, John, Issy and Dan headed over to the Firkin Tavern for lunch and an additional beer (or two).  Meghan even joined us there to hear about our experiences.  After a nap and some downtime, we continued our celebration at Matt and Claire’s with a yummy lasagna dinner and cake!

What a seriously awesome day!  In addition to PR’ing, I’m just incredibly happy to have been able to share such an amazing race.  I’m so thrilled Sally came down from Long Island (a week after NYC!) to race with me!  Claire decided to make her first half the same race as my first half and recruited her childhood friend, Beth, to run with her.  A bunch of PI’ers decided to run, in addition to friends Issy and Dan.  Alex even ran his first 10k!  I could not be more proud!  I would say, this year’s race was a big improvement over last year, the race course especially!  The addition of Mill Hill over a parking lot was massive; it added tons to an already scenic course.  The only real downsides on the course were that the mile markers were off and there were no timing clocks.  The swag was fantastic though, and I could not have asked for better race company!  I will definitely be back in 2014!

Photo Nov 09, 10 04 53 PM

And then we had CAKE!

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