Beyond My Wildest Dreams: Long Branch Half Marathon Recap

I’m speechless. Never in a million years did I think this weekend could happen.

This weekend far surpassed any dreams I had for this spring. Back in January, when I set my goals for the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run and the Long Branch Half Marathon, I didn’t imagine I could become this strong. I never could’ve dreamed I would run more miles starting with 9’s than 10’s in a half marathon this season.

So happy about to cross the finish line!

So happy about to cross the finish line!

The Long Branch Half Marathon was, in a word, outstanding! Sure, I’ve PR’d before. But never in my short “racing” career have I far surpassed my dreams and my A goal before. I had three secret-ish goals for this race. I don’t often talk goals in my little Internet space. I always set them and discuss them with a friend or two, but I usually don’t mention them here until the race is over. I find it puts way too much pressure on me. I applaud those that can share their big dreams and big goals with “the world” and not freak out a little. Or do you? When Steph told me she was tracking me, I immediately got nervous. Could you imagine if I shared my goals with everyone if a little race tracking makes me nervous?

Anyway, I digress. I had three goals for this race. My A goal was 2:12:xx, my B goal was 2:13:xx and my C goal was just to PR (anything under 2:15:55). You can imagine the overwhelming feeling of excitement and pride I felt when I crossed the finish line of the Long Branch Half Marathon in 2:11:06 and looked up to see that two of my favorite people were there to share it with me.

The BEST brother in the world!

The BEST brother in the world!

Me and Abby seconds after crossing the finish line!

Me and Abby seconds after crossing the finish line!

The Long Branch Half Marathon was exciting and overwhelming per usual. Going into race week I felt a freakish sense of calm. It is a foreign feeling to me. I’m historically a bundle of nerves the week leading up to a race. Am I ready? Did I train enough? Can I really do this again? Not this time. This time I knew I was ready. I trained my heart out for this race. I made so much progress during this training cycle. I ran paces and runs I thought I could only dream of. I felt strong, confident and strangely calm. That is, until Saturday night. I started getting really nervous at dinner the night before. Maybe it was because I was surrounded by runners starting to feel the same race nerves.  Mainly, I think I started realizing that I CAN do this but when morning came, would I?

Every other half marathon I’ve run I doubted myself a little. This time I knew I could do it. To me that’s scarier. If you don’t think you can do something and then you don’t, you shake it off and tell yourself you didn’t think you could anyway. If you know you can do it and don’t, to me, that’s worse. It makes you question everything, especially yourself, and wonder what went wrong.

It was a perfect day for a race. Mid 40’s at race start and overcast. As a runner, you couldn’t have asked for a better day. All I had to worry about was would it be MY perfect day? Would everything align and create that dream race day? This time it did. Although I was pretty nervous before the gun went off. I had terrible stomach issues for the day leading up to the race and still the morning of. Clearly my friends know of these issues evidenced by their early morning well wishes.

How can you not smile at this face at 6AM?

How can you not smile at this face at 6AM?

I even have dog cheerleaders. I'm one lucky girl!

I even have dog cheerleaders. I’m one lucky girl!

Even after a pre-race visit to the porta potties with Liz my stomach still felt unsettled. In fact, in the corrals, waiting for the gun to go off I wondered if maybe I might need another trip. It was too late. The race was about to start. As we took a moment of silence for Boston and listened to Sweet Caroline, I said a little prayer, as I always do right before a race starts, and left it in G-d’s hands.

Thank you to Abby, Kara, Jocelyn, Meggie, Theodora, Jen, Jess, Leticia and Michelle who all woke up VERY early and came out to NJ to cheer! You have no idea how much you helped so many of us run a strong race! I think mile 6 was everyone’s fastest mile (It was my second fastest after mile 12 which was only one second faster)! Your support meant so much! I know it helped me kick ass!

Mile 6: 9:38 min/mile

A HUGE thank you to Abby for running miles 8.5-11.5 with me. You have NO IDEA what that meant to me on so many levels. You definitely kept me running strong through those miles when things started to get tough. This PR (in addition to the ridiculous smile on my face) couldn’t have been possible without your unwavering support, encouragement and love. I’m not sure I have the right words to express how much it has meant to me. I’m one very lucky girl to have a friend like you in my life.

Even though I far surpassed my goal for this race, I was honestly okay with whatever happened on race day. If I reached my goal that would be amazing but even if I hadn’t, I still had the most incredible training cycle and that can’t be discounted. Anything can happen on race day. After all, it’s just one day, right? What I accomplished over the 14 weeks prior was beyond what I believed I was capable of and that was enough for me this time. Jocelyn brilliantly wrote about this very thing this week. I guess great minds think alike.

Half Marathon #4 Fun Facts:

  • 18th race. Bib #12618. 26 and 18 are both lucky numbers for me. The numbers on my bib added up to 18.
  • Stayed at Nicole’s parent’s house #13. #Lucky13 #DreamBig2013.
  • Turns out I PR’d the 10K and 10M during this race.

I’ll leave with you some pictures from this amazing, perfect weekend!

From left to right: Jen, Me, Liz, Nicole

At the start line (from left to right): Jen, Me, Liz, Nicole

Being silly at packet pick-up!

Being silly at packet pick-up!

Racing Happy!

Racing Happy!

So lucky to have these incredible people in my life!

So lucky to have these incredible people in my life!

Post race (from left to right): Kara, Liz, Me and Abby

Post race (from left to right): Kara, Liz, Me and Abby

Gatorade, Goldfish and wine.Recovery post race!

Gatorade, Goldfish and wine. Post race recovery!

Tell Me.

Have you ever far surpassed your dreams for a race?

What’s your favorite way to recover post race?

Are you crazy, like me, and believe a lot in numbers and signs?


13 thoughts on “Beyond My Wildest Dreams: Long Branch Half Marathon Recap

  1. What a great race!! Amazing job on your PR!! My first half marathon was magical, it was at Disneyland after all!! I did PR at my second half, but Disney will always hold my favorite spot! I like to get lots of sugar in the form of cake or cookies after a race!

  2. When the stars align and everything comes together on race day, it is one of the best feelings in the world! Congratulations on blowing all of your goals out of the water and landing a huge PR! You’re amazing Beth 🙂 *hugs*

  3. LOVED coming back to read this! So crazy proud of you for believing in yourself and absolutely killing it on race day. You are such an inspiration!!! Giant hugs 🙂

  4. You are incredible! Hard work pays off! 🙂 So glad I got to cheer you on. CONGRATS!! (PS you DID get the pictures from your brother! Haha I remember you saying you would never see them again!)

  5. Pingback: Why I Signed Up to Run the Brooklyn Half Marathon. Again. | Once in a Mile

  6. Pingback: The Long and Winding Road | Once in a Mile

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