Run the Hook in Sandy Hook, NJ, was quite the experience. I’d been to Jersey twice before, once to Wildwood and once to Jersey City/Hoboken to park and ride the train into NYC. However, this time, I travelled with a Jersey native and we stayed with one of her friends’ parents’. Packet pickup was easy – it was at the local running store. I also got a shirt that was on clearance, my favorite kind of shirt. Of course we hit Starbucks a few times over the 24 hours and checked out World Market and a health food store.
Sunday morning was pretty chill because we didn’t have to leave for Sandy Hook until 8:30 or so with a race start at 10am. We got to the parking lot and then had about a mile or 15 minute walk to the start. It was cold, around 50*, rainy, and windy (up to 26 mph gusts). I set my intention early on, even a few days before, because I knew I had to be in the right mindset mentally.
After warming up, we got to the start line about 10 minutes before go time. 10:00 came and went, and we were standing, shivering, waiting to get going. I did not consider bringing long pants or a long sleeve shirt, or even gloves to a May race. I had a short sleeve shirt and compression shorts so I was anxious to get going.
10:03, 10:04 rolled around, and people were getting antsy, so antsy in fact that they started yelling things like, “Let’s go!” “Start! Start!” When the RD came on the mic and said, “We’re just trying to make sure as many people as possible get to the start line,” people lost it – they definitely expressed their feelings with words. Jackie told me that this was a very Jersey experience, so I laughed and embraced it.
The course itself was great – very flat and easy to follow. I carried only my phone (in a baggie in my pocket), headphones, and my Garmin. We ran along the Sandy Hook Bay side of the peninsula (or barrier spit, rather). The wind was pretty constant except for some gusts that took my breath away. The rain was mostly unnoticeable the majority of the time except for when my cotton shirt got heavy. Eventually my hands warmed up past numb.
I had mostly negative splits, and was very cognizant of my effort towards the beginning. I knew that if I didn’t keep it under control, my heart rate would jump up at the beginning and it’d be a very difficult race.
We did a couple out-and-backs on the 10K course. I saw Jackie at one point and she got a couple pics. I was actually in really good spirits the entire time – mostly because I literally had no other option. We were gonna be cold and wet anyway, so might as well have a good attitude. I found myself smiling quite a bit, and I’m sure having music helped.
I crossed the line, according to official results, in 55:33. Strava says I completed 6.01 miles in 55:36. It’s unclear to me, even after the RD posted after the race, how long the course actually was. I started my watch late. With these differing results, I can infer that I ran between a 8:57 and 9:14 pace, which either way is a huge PR for me. In February, my 10K pace was 9:35.
I was so pleased and definitely had that runner’s high from even a few minutes into the race. It was a HUGE mental and physical breakthrough for me to run like that in those conditions.
It took a hot shower, layers, and brunch to warm up. We headed home and besides the rain, the drive was uneventful.
It’s Tuesday and I’m still elated from that race. I got to cross another state off my list, and be reminded that yes, training works. Yes, my body works. I have a runner’s body. I can do hard things. By far, this has been the best Mother’s Day in years.
Next up: Maryland Half Marathon. I’m comin’ for ya.