Gettin’ Hyphy — Long Branch Half Marathon Recap and Lara’s First Half!

She did it! Dear friends, Lara Kimmerer is officially a half-marathoner!

How did we get to such a strange place? Well, it was a long journey that started in the winter where training runs slowly built up distance and endurance. There were tears, there was anger, but it’s the type of flack a brother can expect from an older sister knowing she would always love him a again a few hours later.

I know Lara will tell of her own experiences. So, while my hips are out of alignment and with a headache still attached to my skull like vice grips, I will tell you mine.

It seems like always after a race I’m in a haze. Something happened on Sunday. Trust me, my body is telling me. But all those crisp details I was sure I was absorbing mile after mile, they all just blur together.

I went over to Lara and Peter’s after work on Friday. We left at a relatively early time to head back to New Jersey. Stopped in Worcester along the way at an Olive Garden to get the carbo-loading started early. Our waitress may have been on cocaine. She was still one of the best waitresses I’ve had, definitely the best Olive Garden waitress. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-45 seconds after getting in the car, I fell asleep, which I would remain, more or less, until we arrived home around midnight where I promptly went to bed. I woke up around 9 am, after having slept a good 12 hours. It was magnificent.

We spent a leisurely morning and early afternoon having coffee at home before heading down to Bedminster where my sister’s friend Jen lives and where we would be spending our pre-race night. We quickly hopped from one car to another and took off for the expo at the Monmouth Race Track. Traffic was already hefty for the expo, giving us a glimmer of what it would be like in the morning. The expo was small, but friendly, plenty of Bruce Springsteen playing, although I can say the racetrack definitely saw its heyday around the time of the Kennedy Administration. We went back to Jen’s for a delicious shrimp, pasta and bread (lots of bread) dinner. We went to bed fairly early, but I didn’t sleep all that well. We had to be up EARLY to get down there for the race. And by early I mean up at 3:50AM for a 6:45 gun time. I thought the 8th amendment protected us from such things.

photo (2)We did get up and on the road by 4:15. After having some bagels and coffee, I got the morning going with a pretty sweet get hyped up mix – -we’re talking some Chumbawumba, 1996 Mission Impossible Theme, Daft Punk, Pretty Lights’ Hot Like Sauce – you know, the classics. We got to the track, parked, and then headed in to get prepped. The weather had been forecasted to be mid-60’s day of. But, at 6AM it was in the mid 40’s and only headed to 60 at best. So, it was cold – especially for a guy in skimpy shorts and singlet. We did get prepped, the race track bugler did a call to post, had a soulful Star Spangled Banner, 26 seconds of silence for Boston, and a half-hearted rendition of Sweet Caroline and then the corrals were off!

But, one a time. Corral A went. Then Corral B was slowly allowed forward until we were allowed to go. I thought I hit my watch as we crossed the line, but, I didn’t. About a minute in I clicked it, not all that worried. For the first mile, my watch was in sync and gave me my lap a bit after the mile marker. But, by mile 2, my watch was right on target with the markers. I hadn’t hit it until a good 300 yards after the start. Anyway, it took a me a bit to get to a point where I felt comfortable as the front of Corral B very quickly slammed into the wall of the back of A. The first few miles ticked along well. 6:49, 6:36, and then 7:00. Once I hit 7:00 I held at pace really well, finally achieving a semblance of consistency. The course had a lot of turns that kept my mind engaged. However, the crowds could have used an extra cup of coffee, as every time I passed a sullen group of spectators I had to rouse them into cheering. I wound up about 15 yards in back of a group I paced with for about 7 miles. Unfortunately, I just don’t remember much of this course. I know it was flat, I know I ran over two bridges. I know I ran through a dubious looking section of Long Branch where a guy was definitely drinking a 40 out of a paper bag. But, for the most past, it’s just a haze. I ran, I ran as best I could. Jen’s fiancé Scott (who once clocked a 1:10 half marathon) and Lara’s friend Trish were at mile 9 and caught me last second, and off guard, cheering me on which helped snap me out of my little world. By the time we hit the final stretch along the water, the wind was strong off the ocean, it was chilly, and I was hurting. I tried to push hard for the last two miles, but they wound up being the slowest of the day. I really even thought my last mile would be sub-7:00, but was disheartened to see it at 7:09. My watch alerted me that I had run 13.1 miles, but that the finish was still a long ways off. The final distance was around 13.35, which I pushed as hard as I could for and finished just shy of 1 hour 33 minutes. Not my fastest, not a PR, but still the second fastest half I’ve run.

I got my medal, which must weigh at least a pound, grabbed my stuff, changed and then went to look for and cheer on Peter, Lara, and Jen. Along the way, I ran into my high school friend Susan who set a PR minutes after I crossed the line. I missed Peter, but caught Lara and Jen.

Me and the newly minted half marathoner

Me and the newly minted half marathoner


The crew

The crew

With the race over, we headed to a diner where we ate monster meals, had a shower at Jen’s, and then hit the road back to Boston. I was asleep within minutes again and had a good hard nap. When I woke up my sister was still in the midst of an intense runner’s high. About time, Lara!

We got back to town, had some awesome burgers and a few beers at The Abbey in Brookline.

My sister is a half marathoner. My sister is a half marathoner!

Despite my lackluster time, I realized I had only run 4 times at speed. In the coming months, I’ll train harder and get back to the level I want to be. This was a good litmus test for fitness. Because, this guy is now running the Lehigh Valley Marathon in September. BQ or PR, I’ll still be running hard and fast.


About Graham Runs Boston

Bostonian running around Boston. Team RaceMenu distance runner. Oyster appreciator, beer lover, outside all the time when I can, loosely pursuing a BQ
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