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This past Sunday I ran the Jersey Shore Half Marathon, hosted by The Shore A.C., a local running organization that supports athletes in numerous Track and Field events. I had previously run 2 of their races, the Captain Zinn 5k and Asbury Park Sheehan Classic 5k, and I love the environment they’ve produced full of encouraging runners at every level.

Signing up for the race was a last minute decision as my schedule had opened up. I was excited because I’ve been craving a comfortable race. Going into it I had a couple different goals for the 13.1 miles.

  1. I wanted to experiment with fueling options.
  2. I wanted to enjoy the run. I wanted to focus on maintaining a steady comfortable pace.

I’m happy that both of these goals were accomplished. I went to the race with a couple of Science In Sport gels and GE Energy gels. I’ve tried both previously, with mixed feelings. I prefer the consistency of the Gu gels, but the flavor of the SIS. I decided I would alternate and see which I preferred overall. On the course, they ended up having GU Mandarin Orange gels. I’m very picky when it comes to flavors AND consistency, which is why I’ve had a hard time finding a gel I like. I decided to try the mandarin orange because I’m a huge fan of anything orange flavored, so I figured if I don’t like that, there’s no hope for me…

I ended up LOVING it. I was very cautious, and one gel lasted me the whole second half of the race, while that worked for me, that’s not the recommended dose… according to GU themselves…”Rip open the top and squeeze the entire packet into your mouth—don’t save half of it for later. GU Energy Gel’s recipe of carbohydrates and amino acids was created to be taken in one shot to provide you with maximum benefits”
SOOOO… not what I did….I ended up having tiny bits of gel, followed by a small sip of water…every 1/4 to 1/2 a mile. I was nervous about having too much at a time and upsetting my stomach, effectively ruining my race.

My second goal was to just enjoy it. Not focus on the pace and just run a comfortable race. Usually I tell myself something similar to that goal before a race and then when the gun goes off and we’re moving, I just get in a zone and need to run. My friends (and my sister, for sure) make fun of me every time I get them to run a race with me because I always say I’ll stay with them and I usually do for about 1/2 a mile and then I get competitive and want to push the pace. Fortunately for me, they still agree to run local 5k’s with me 🙂

When I got to the race, I didn’t expect there to be official pacers. It was a pleasant surprise and I decided I’d do an steady pace and just follow the 2:15 pacer. I like to think we became unofficial BFF’s because we stuck together the whole time even when we lost 90% of the group we started with. Even though we never said a word to one another until after we crossed the finish line and congratulated one another. I never would have considered being a pacer one day, but running with a pacer (it was my first time!) really changed my perspective and I think once I have more races under my belt I would love it.

Overall, I’m so happy I decided to sign up for this race, it ended up being one of my favorites and I’ll probably continue to run it every year if I can.

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