Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

The Perfect Mile(s)

Three weeks from today, I’ll be running the New Jersey Marathon, in the North Jersey shore town of Long Branch. Until today, I didn’t know a whole lot about this race, other than it’s rumored to be well organized and flat – two great qualities for a potential PR.

This morning, one of the Long Branch running clubs hosted a practice 20 mile race simulation; it followed the two-loop course for the first 19 miles before turning back toward the beach to round out the run. Ali, the only sane one among us, opted to get in her last long run yesterday, but Bess and I decided to head up the Jersey Turnpike for a change of pace.

I was pretty anxious about what to eat before the run, both because of Passover and because we were waking up at 4:00 AM for a 7 AM start. I contemplating disregarding the holiday and downing a peanut butter sandwich, but then Brent came up with the perfect alternative. Before I left the house to meet Bess at a nearby parking lot, I ate a spoonful of peanut butter. An hour later, I munched on a banana… and a small bag of baked lay’s potato chips.

Yes, that’s right, potato chips – and I think I may have found the secret to marathon glory.

After getting a little bit turned around en route, we made it to the unofficial starting line just before the pre-‘race’ debriefing. The director of the marathon took the bullhorn and spoke to the crowd of 80-ish runners, detailing the plan for the morning.


The Jersey Marathon is grossly overshadowed by Philly to the south and New York to the north, and I get the impression that the race makes up for any inferiority complex by offering amazing amenities and organization that rivals any ironman. Along today’s makeshift course, there were six fuel stations, fully stocked with gatorade, water, and chocolate gu, not to mention the Peeps and jelly beans (I didn’t partake in these Easter delights during the run for fear of screwing with my stomach, but I was still impressed). The director offered free race magnets to all participants, and they even got local businesses to put out “You’re all Kenyans” signs on their curbs.

We started in the 8:00-9:00 corral and quickly settled into what we thought was a comfortable pace. After the first mile, though, I looked down at my garmin to find that we were running sub-8:00. Bess and I got nervous that we were pushing too hard, but we decided to go with it and see what happened. After five miles, we were consistently hitting times ranging from 8:07-8:16, and we both felt good.

At the start of the run, we made friends with Andrew, a New York computer consultant training for his second marathon. Quickly, the three of us joined forces with two other New Yorkers, and we all ran together for much of the 20 miles.

We got to the half marathon point at 1:47, a full eight minutes faster than my last official PR. I had to work hard not to psyche myself out, worrying that we’d started out too fast and would collapse in the final seven. It was a brisk day, and when we finished the first loop, the winds picked up a bit, upping our effort and slowing our pace. But by mile 17, the winds had calmed, and we all spread out a bit as our new friends pushed it to the finish (Andrew had a “secret” goal that was definitely faster than a 3:40, and at least one of the other women we were running with had a PR of 3:12 on a hilly course).

I struggled a bit around mile 15, but by 17 I got a second wind, and Bess and I finished the last three miles strong, rounding out the 20 in a time of 2:45:19. When I looked down at my watch, I nearly squealed. 8:16 pace! We could have run the remaining 6.2 miles this morning above a 9:00 pace and still come in under our marathon goal time!

Because we’d missed a turn in the final mile and had to backtrack, we finished our run about 1/2 a mile from the start, so we walked/shuffled back and enjoyed a veritable smorgasbord of jelly beans, peanuts, pretzels, bananas, water, gatorade, and dyed eggs, each individually etched with 13.1 and 26.2 (okay, so I actually just had a few peanuts and a handful of jelly beans, but it was quite the spread).

After stretching and changing and singing the praises of the race director and running club, Bess and Andrew and I headed to Amy’s Omelets for lunch. I scanned the menu over and over again, and quickly realized that the thought of an omelet made me nauseous, so unless I wanted fruit and cottage cheese, I was going to have to break Passover (the horror, I know). I settled on a veggie pita, joking that pita bread must have less yeast in it since it’s so much flatter than regular bread. I ate half the sandwich and 2/3 of the fries and was thoroughly satisfied as we walked back to the car, stopping to mug with the Easter bunny on our way out.


It was the perfect morning, the best 20 miler ever. And it totally made up for yesterday’s debacle.

Next up, taper!

(Photos c/o Andrew… And no more Passover posts – they’re getting boring)

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15 responses to “The Perfect Mile(s)

  1. Bess April 12, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Brent is right- not every day can be the best day ever. Yesterday was not. Today (quite possibly) was.

  2. Natalie D April 13, 2009 at 12:30 am

    That’s awesome! It sounds amazing! I am so excited for you guys! glad you ate a pita. I would have eaten one already – actually probably about 10!

  3. I Run for Fun April 13, 2009 at 2:50 am

    Yay! I am so happy for you. You will rock this one. I have run the LBH twice before and I just love the amazing planning and organization that goes into the NJ Marathon.

  4. Kristin April 13, 2009 at 3:09 am

    Yay for good runs today! Better yet, taper time! So glad you had a great long run today. That race organization does sound pretty amazing!

  5. Amanda April 13, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Awesome job on the 20 miles! That race organization sounds great.

  6. RunToFinish April 13, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    way to go!! running under pace would be a friggin huge confidence booster1

  7. Denise April 13, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Great run!! Sounds like it all went so perfectly. You’re going to do great in a few weeks. PR here you come!

  8. X-Country2 April 13, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    What a cool thing for a running club to do. Congrats on a great practice race.

  9. aron April 13, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    amaaaazing job!!!!!! that will be such a confidence booster going into the marathon!!! WOOO BQ here you come 🙂 good luck with the taper! i’m not really looking forward to it 🙂

  10. Angela and David Kidd April 15, 2009 at 1:47 am

    It sounds like a fantastic race! And you sound ready to rock it!I might steal your baked lays trick. That sounds like something that would work well for my stomach.

  11. RunToFinish April 16, 2009 at 1:47 am

    OMG that may have been the best story EVER!!!! hehe in lederhosen!

  12. The Happy Runner April 16, 2009 at 2:05 am

    Wow, that is SO awesome! The marathon is going to be terrific!

  13. HangryPants April 17, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Thanks for the tip on the WF Hearts of Palm! Sometimes they have random cheap things. Anyway, I almost signed up for this half marathon, but picked Brooklyn,cause it’s closer to me and further in time. Good luck. I’ve heard the views are amazing!!!

  14. Ted April 23, 2009 at 2:21 am

    I am a newbie to your blog. I was there, too and wish I knew about your blog beforehand. I have run in the NJ Marathon twice and loved it. You will do GREAT. Good Luck !

  15. Pingback: The Comeback Run « Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

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