On May 5, I ran the New Jersey Marathon, which is held at the North Jersey shore. It was my third 26.2, and my best. I ran it in 4 hours, 19 minutes, and 7 seconds. That time's not going to set the world on fire, but I beat my best marathon time by more than 16 minutes. I consider that a success.
Any race is an endeavor, but this is the most rigorous training schedule I've ever used with some expected - and not-so-expected - results.
First, some statistics.
Training duration: 18 weeks
Miles run: 562
Time run: 96 hours,
I used Hansons Marathon Method: A Renegade Path to Your Fastest Marathon by Luke Humphrey with Kevin and Keith Hanson. The guide was published in October, the first time their training program, which they've been using for more than 20 years, has been put into book form. I ran six days a week, a mix of easy runs, tempo and interval work, and a long run - though the longest was 16 miles, not 20. Don't let that fool you. I've never run so many miles in my life, and it showed in both the race results, and how I looked.
Calories eaten per day: 3,000.
Pounds Lost: Seven. That might not sound like a lot, but I gained muscle, too, and this is the first time I've lost weight during marathon training.
Foods/drink craved: Blue-corn tortilla chips, hummus, bananas, whole milk, granola, pickles, and pasta. Anything with salt.
Foods/drink avoided: Ice cream, red wine. One drink of the good stuff and I'd be loopty-loo. And don't get me started on the ice cream. It wasn't pretty.
Clothing items no longer wearable: Zip-up boots, skinny jeans, capri pants, and heels. The first three no longer fit because of the new circumference of my calves, and the last because I'm clumsy.
Injuries: Shin splints in the right leg, turned right ankle.
Toenails lost: Zero. However, three are on life support.
Average bedtime: 9 p.m.
. . . that I thought I suffered the week before the race: broken toe, sprained ankle, concussion, hematoma, broken wrist, infection.
Only actual injury: infection.
I have nothing but good things to say about the New Jersey Marathon. The size - 5,350 runners in the Long Branch Half, which started before the full marathon, and then 2,269 in the full marathon - was perfect for this course. Race organizers provided regular updates on their Facebook page, from training tips to safety changes after the Boston Marathon bombings, and race director Joe Gigas offered advice on the race's blog.
Even though some of the course had to be altered because of Sandy-related damage, it was still runner-friendly, pretty, and different enough to not become boring. It's almost entirely flat, too. A cold ocean breeze helped, especially since most of the course was in full sun.
I've never felt better running a marathon. I did what the pros say you should do: run a conservative start to the race, and run faster at the end. I held the same pace for the first 20 miles and then picked up the pace for the last 6.2. I finished with a smile on my face and arms held high.
How I felt on Monday: Ow.
How I felt writing this piece: Double ow.
What's next: Two weeks off and then running trails in Alaska while on vacation.
Next year, both the New Jersey Marathon and Long Branch Half are moving up a week to the last Sunday in April - April 27 - so they will no longer be in conflict with the Broad Street 10-miler. Put one or both on your running to-do list.
$25 adults, $20 kids by May 29, spectasport.com.
$25 before June 1. 609-886-8787.
19th annual Strides for Stroke 5K run/walk. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, $25 entry fee. Registration 7 a.m.; 8:30 start. phillystroke.org
ODDyssey Half Marathon, Philadelphia, 7 a.m. registration. Information at ODDysseyHalfMarathon.com