Friday, April 18, 2014

Unite 8K Race Recap

Sunday morning I was able to wake up, get ready, and get out the door within 30 minutes. Bryan, being the awesome sport he is, got up early with me to be my cheer squad. The drive to the race was only 30 minutes, so we arrived at Rutgers and parked at the football stadium by 7 am. There were a few lots in which you could park, some closer to the start and some by the finish. There were shuttles running between all the lots and the start/finish as well. We chose to park closer to the start line since the walk back from the finish was only a mile and would be a nice cool down post-race. 

The walk up to the start area was quick and easy to find since it was where packet pick up was the day before. There were plenty of port-a-potties to use before the race as well as water stations, and a DJ. The Rutger's Knight (their mascot) was also wandering around taking pictures and giving out high fives. I was a little chilly waiting for the race to start, but once I got going the temperature was absolutely perfect in the mid-50's.

Waiting to Start!

The half marathon started first at 8am. The half started out in one direction, then 10 minutes later the 8K participants lined up in the opposite direction since our course was the back 5 miles of the half. Everything was very casual and just feel into place wherever you felt comfortable. 

I started off faster than I should have, 9:45/mile, waaaay too fast, I just get too excited! I dropped down to about 10:30 which was still a full minuter faster than I should have been running but more comfortable. I was feeling good and decided to just run and see how I felt. The course started on Rutger's campus, then took you into a local park. There were a few bands along the course from polka to rock. There was more on course support closer to campus but inside the parks was pretty and I just enjoyed the run.

I ran the first 2.5 miles without stopping until I hit the first water stop. I walked through and then started my intervals. I feel into a nice groove just enjoying the scenery and listening to my music. After the park we crossed an overpass bringing us up a slight hill towards another park. 

Yelling to get Bryan's attention, typical.

At mile 3.5, just as I was making my way up to the 2nd park I spotted Bryan making his way to see my at the finish line. It couldn't have worked out any better if we had tried! I yelled "Am I going to beat you to the finish!?" worrying he wouldn't see me.

We were looped through park #2 which was flat and fast like the majority of the course. I was making my way out towards the road to the finish when I spotted the first half marathoners. They were just making their way into the park which was about mile 11 1/2 for them. Those guys are speedy!  

Coming out you had to take on a slight uphill back onto campus. That uphill is not what you want to tackle towards the end of a race. I had tried to open up my shot blocks prior to this but my darn sweaty hands wouldn't let me. I could have used that extra fuel for the last mile! Anyways, I powered up the hill to finish my interval and then took a quick walk break. Just enough time to catch my breath because I knew the finish line was close! 

The nice part about that uphill was the glorious down hill that just propelled you through the finish line. I think all races should finish on a downhill, it was that extra speed and boost I needed to cross the finish! I crossed at 55:16, which I was very happy with! I had predicted I would finish in 55:00-1:00:00 and was happy to be on the lower end of the estimate. Considering I didn't have a goal for the race besides "let's see what happens" I couldn't complain. 

That bad boy is as big as my wine & dine medal!
I crossed through the finishers chute, received my HUGE medal, and then headed towards the tent housing post-race food. Everything was already pre-packaged with volunteers ready to hand them to the runners coming in. Super easy and no wait time. Further down there was also free hot chocolate for finishers but I decided to pass since it had warmed up to the 60's and hot chocolate isn't exactly what you want when you're hot and sweaty. 

SUPER excited about the post-race pretzel
Everything came pre-packed for
easy carrying (minus the pretzel that I inhaled)

I found Bryan shortly after and we headed back towards the finish line to watch the rest of the 8K runners come through and some fast half marathoners! I was ecstatic to find that a SOFT PRETZEL was one of our post race goodies-YUM! Except there was no cheese sauce-oh wait this isn't Disney. I think I'll write RunDisney and let them know they should start including Mickey pretzels in our runner boxes. 

These girls were AWESOME! They had so much energy at mile 11 of the half.
Their signs say "Run now, wine later" and "Punch for power" and the runners would
punch her sign as they ran past

After I had stretched and refueled enough we started our stroll back to the parking lot. It brought us right along the course so we were able to continue cheering on other runners all the way back to the car. As I was cheering and clapping for the half marathoners, they were congratulating me for my race while they were still running! Guys, this is why I love the running community. We're all pretty awesome and supportive if I do say so myself. Go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back. 

So for $59 (plus processing) I received a huge medal, a tech shirt in a women's cut (yay for a shirt I can actually wear again!), FREE finisher photos (that'r right, multiple! Any finish line photo is free for you to download), a complimentary coffee mug, packet pick-up was a breeze, parking and transportation were equally as easy & free, the course was fast and flat (except for that last mile uphill!), the volunteers were great (all enthusiastic Rutger's students) and I lucked out with beautiful weather. My only complaint of the whole race was that there was only water on the course, no gatorade/powerade. Even at the finish only water bottles were provided. Luckily I had left some gatorade in the car but I was really wanting it right after I had finished considering it started to get warmed a lot from the start of the race.

Overall, with only 6,000 runners between the half and the 8K the field was big enough but not overwhelming. I would absolutely recommend this race to someone else in the future. Who knows, maybe next year I'll tackle the half instead. 


QOTD: What are some of your favorite local races?


  1. I absolutely love local races! They often seem much more organized than some of the big name races, and having the food prepackaged makes it so much easier post race. One tip in regards to the Shot Bloks: I open the package before the race and move them into a Ziploc bag. It makes it so much easier to grab them mid run!

    1. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this race was run, I'm eager to try more now. Thanks for the shot block tip, I told myself I would have to do exactly that next time!

  2. Awesome job!! I love local races, too! I can't believe how much stuff you got for that registration price...freaking awesome! Oh, and I second your advice to runDisney to include Mickey pretzels in our runner food boxes - those are one of my fave Disney snacks! :0)

    1. Right?! And I registered pretty late so I could've gotten it for even cheaper. I vote to start a petition for mickey pretzels in our runner boxes, who's with me?!

  3. Way to go! Sounds like a great race, and how awesome that there were soft pretzels included! Amazing. I love when races have the food pre-packaged in a bag, so you don't have to try and carry/juggle all of the treats in your arms, while sweaty and tired. I have the same problem with all of my race fuel, so I do what Kathryn does as well. It really helps take some of the stress off (because I get super pissed when I can't get my fuel! haha). Really sounds like you got lots of bang for your buck.

    1. I tried out Kathryn's method this weekend and it worked like a charm! I was really pleasantly surprised with this race, don't you love when that happens?!