Another weekend, another race. This one putting me at five races in six weeks. Three half marathons, a 10-miler , and a 10k. This seems to be becoming a trend for my marathon training as I lead up to race day. And, with less than two weeks to go, this was my last long run before NYC Marathon.
It’s also worth mentioning that I think this was my 25th half marathon, but I haven’t actually taken two seconds to go verify if that’s true or not so let’s just assume that it is, okay? Cool.
The Halloween Half Marathon is a smaller half marathon run in Morristown, NJ by Superhero Events. They’ve been putting on races for a quite a bit now, but I’ve only done one of their races in the past, the 2011 Superhero Half. I remember that being a nicely-run event with a hilly course. I expected as much from this race.
I, again, had 20 miles on the day, my third and final 20-miler, so I had some pre-run miles to get in. Thanks to the race starting at 12:30 (!!!), there was no rush at all. I was able to sleep in and take my time getting out the door for the drive out to Morristown. Upon arrival, I picked up my bib and then set off for my miles. I don’t particularly know Morristown that well, so I just found a park on Google Maps and made my way off in that direction. To my pleasant surprise, there was a long and flat trail path, Patriots Path, for me to run along. While it was a bit disjointed with some street intersections, I had no problem knocking out 6.5ish miles with an out-and-back. Unfortunately, I was not looking forward to running another 13.1 more, but what are ya gonna do?
The weather was cold and windy. Not like winter-in-New-Jersey cold, but we’re talking mid-40s with like 20+mph winds. Remove the wind and it’s pretty close to perfect running weather.
I lined up just behind the 8:00/pace sign at the start. With fewer than 650 runners, there was no need for actual corrals. This made for a nice and relaxed start—a lot different from the NYRR races that have been dominating my schedule lately.
The race started off with literally zero fanfare. If the race director made any announcements, we couldn’t hear them. All of a sudden, I just heard “ready! go!” I don’t think anyone was actually ready.
I kept with the 1:45 pacers, but had no plans to stay with them, in either direction. It felt like we were running up a slight hill in the first mile, but it wasn’t much. Shortly into the second mile, we hit a steep downhill along a golf course that took off any of the elevation we had just gained.
Just like at the Staten Island Half last weekend, I was counting down the miles from the start. I just felt rather exhausted. And these hills were not going to help.
From here we made some turns onto neighborhood streets and were constantly rolling up and down hills. Most weren’t big on their own, but they added up. At one point, we ended up on non-neighborhood road that was, apparently, only closed on one side. Of course, this is sometimes the case with smaller local races that don’t have enough clout to get every road entirely closed. There were a few others that were like this. Normally, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal as long as the roads aren’t super busy and are wide enough, but the lack of a complete closure wasn’t made obvious to runners. A couple times, a race official or cop drove down the road and yelled out the window for us all to move over. 🙄
Once we got into the middle third of the race, we entered some wooded park sections where we got to run on the paved paths through the woods. This was nice and serene and a great break from the roads. Through here, there were two men that I was going back and forth with. We’d been running near each other since the second mile, but now we were just going back and forth. None of it felt deliberate, just normal fluctations in each of our paces. One of the men was wearing a Deadpool costume, which was great because roughly half the people cheering yelled out “SPIDERMAN!” to him. The three of us giggled each time.
Around the middle of the race, I started walking through some water stops while drinking Gatorade to get a little extra fuel into my body. The water stops all had Halloween candy at them, but I didn’t want to take any while running.
The section through the park was most of the middle third and probably my favorite section of the race, but eventually, it came to an end and it was time to start making our way back to the start/finish. After we came out of the park, the way back was mostly along the same way we came out. By now, I thought I was picking it up a little. Spoiler: I wasn’t. I had dropped the two guys I was running near by now and was a running a little more alone than I had been.
Somewhere in the 8th mile, my Garmin gave a low battery warning. It’s almost 4.5 years old, but I had taken off the charger that morning so I was hoping it’d make it. Unfortunately, it died less than two miles later so that was that. I still have my splits thanks to my Watch, though. They’re nothing exciting, I promise.
With a couple miles left to go, I was fading. Now the course back had broken off from going back along the out section of the course. I was counting down the miles and cursing out every new rolling hill that came along. Yeah, I know, good training for NYC Marathon and all that. Fuck that. Whatever. I don’t care. BAH!
When we got down into the last half a mile, we made our second to last turn and were faced with another stupid ass hill. I didn’t have a lot left to power with so I didn’t. I eased back and didn’t give a fuck. From here, the finish line felt like it was never going to come and I was wondering why I couldn’t see it. It turned out there was one more turn that I wasn’t aware of, but as soon as we made that turn, the finish line was right there.
I grabbed my medal and a bagel and then pretty much peaced out. I had been warm enough during the race, but my sweaty body was starting to drop its temperature and I needed warmth.
I’m glad I finally did this race. I’ve been saying for years that I was going to do it and never had. The medal is cute and, instead of a shirt, you get a pretty decent looking jacket. Not bad for less than $100 (the price two days before the race). Much of the course is quiet, but the race has a really nice local vibe to it. I would recommend it to anyone in New Jersey who is looking for an October half marathon next year.