Name of the race: Franklin Lakes Half Marathon
Where: Franklin Lakes, NJ
Date: Sept 29, 2016
Time: 8:00 am
Distance: 13.1 miles
Terrain: Rolling hills, loop course
Entry fee: $75 + processing fee
Swag: Long-sleeved cotton shirt and finishers medal
Post-race Food: Bagels, cream cheese, bananas, apples, oranges, fruit bars, granola bars, and water, plus pre-race hot coffee.
Performance: Overall 73/245; Gender 14/93; Age (30-39) 3/23
Weather: 48 degrees, 87% humidity
RLRF had 13 miles for the long run last week. I decided to sign up for a last minute half marathon because I wasn’t feeling it (tough week at work) and knew a race would get me through 13 miles. I contemplated dragging Ben either up to Rhode Island or Connecticut for the weekend, but he begged me to find a closer race. Luckily for him, I found Franklin Lakes Half in north Jersey.
It was an easy drive over because the early weekend morning meant no traffic. We had plenty of time to park, ride the ridiculously short shuttle to the race start, and hang out until the race started. The race very kindly provided us with pre-race coffee, which delighted Ben no end.
Ben originally thought he would run his own race, but at around Mile 3, he decided he wasn’t having a good day, so he waited for me to show up so he could run with me. As for me, I didn’t want to go all out. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I’d let my legs tell me what they wanted. I figured I was capable of anything from 8:10 to 8:45, but thought I was most likely going to run around 8:30 (it turned out I ran 8:28, so I guessed right).
The first couple of miles, I tried to hold myself back a little because I didn’t want to start off too fast (8:18, 8:16). The rolling hills on the course added a nice challenge. I focused more on running even effort than even pacing. The goal for Franklin Lakes was to run a good solid training run for Steamtown and to get more hill training in. Running uphill and downhill on tired legs is good training.
I thought the race would be more picturesque than it actually was. The course goes along two lakes, but you barely get to see them because a fence is in between. Most of the views on the course are the cookie cutter McMansions of Franklin Lakes. A part of the course goes on a trail for about a quarter mile, maybe a half mile at most, which I liked because a portion of Steamtown is also on a trail, so it’s all good training.
I ran pretty well, but my energy was flagging during the last two miles. I slowed down to almost 9 min miles for those miles. The last half mile was on an asphalt footpath through a little patch of woods. It was very nice and my favorite portion.
What I didn’t realize until I got the results was that the race was only doing gun time. At the start, you run over a timing mat, so I thought it recorded my start time. No, instead the race was only recording when you crossed that same mat for the finish line. I was annoyed because I lost 6 seconds. Had I known, I would have started right up front, or at least closer to the front.
For a short period of time, Ben and I were excited that I came in third for my age group. You know how I feel about bottomfeeding at little races. When Ben counted the number of mugs at the awards table, he realized that they were only giving age group awards to the age group winners and everyone else was out. I jokingly groused about needing external validation on the shuttle ride back to the car. As much as I would have like another trinket that I was going to bury somewhere and have it gather dust, the good thing about not getting anything was that we got to leave early.
We drove to Edgewater to go eat at Mitsuwa, an awesome Japanese market with a kickass food court. The longest line was for the ramen shop, but it was well worth the wait and the wait really wasn’t all that long because the workers ran the place with expert Japanese efficiency. I couldn’t get over how despite the crowds, the food court was clean and remarkably easy in finding free seats. It truly was like a little bit of Japan (and its polite manners) was in the US. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard of Mitsuwa while we lived in Hoboken. Had we known about this place, we would have gone up here quite often for meals.
So all in all, I had a solid training run. My pace was 8:28 and I was supposed to run 8:27 pace, so I say I nailed this. The organization of the race was pleasant. The people working the race and the volunteers were great. The post-race spread was really good, especially the bagels and cream cheese. If you live around the area and need a half marathon, this is an option. As for me, I don’t think I’ll be back. It’s an hour away and at $75, I would have wanted a more “special” feel to justify the price. Running on the suburban streets of Franklin Lakes wasn’t quite it for me. But I have no regrets because I wanted a race to use for a training run. I joke to Ben (although he would say that this isn’t a joke at all), “Why do something for free, when you can pay lots of money for it.” That’s pretty much sums this race up.