Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Rutgers Unite Half Marathon & 8K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check outBibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
I’m going to sum up the Rutgers Unite Half Marathon & 8K on Sunday, April 14, 2019 into three phrases–small bladder (not my own), nuun (yay!), and Orange Family.
My little family and I decided to make a weekend out of this event, since I had never run in New Jersey before, and the race was a good two-and-a-half-hour drive from our home in Delaware. I had been weather-stalking (new verb, right?) all week, and I was nervous that we’d have rain on race day. I’ve never really run in a downpour for a race before, but all I could do was hope for the best!
We booked a room at the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick, which was the recommended hotel on the race website for that Saturday night, and I was hoping to leave the house by around 9:30 a.m. EST or so to get to the race expo around 12 or 12:30 to meet up with fellow BibRave Pros Miles and Lacey (my “Orange Family”). I had never met another BibRave Pro in person before, so I was both nervous and excited!
Race Expo Day
We ended up getting a later start than planned, but thankfully the ride itself was uneventful aside from some on-and-off rain. We drove straight to the expo, which was at the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center on the Rutgers University Busch Campus. As we walked up to the building, I thought it was neat to see volley ball players (see picture below). The rain had stopped quite some time ago, and it really felt like summer!
BibRave Pro Miles had already left the expo, but Lacey was still there, so we were able to connect in the lobby to say hi! She’s so down-to-earth and sweet. I hope to see her again at a future race! We talked about race-day strategies and what the expo had to offer. Miles was staying at the same hotel that we were, so I knew I’d have another chance to meet up and say hi likely before the race.
The expo itself was in a small gym-type area. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I didn’t have anything in mind that I really wanted to purchase. However, we did end up buying the Angry Kindergartner (AK) some nuun Sport Strawberry Lemonade of her own (because it’s all the rage with the Kinders, y’know) along with nuun Mango Orange, which I had never tried before. I also snagged the new Hoppy Trails GU. I’m not a huge beer fan, and this flavor doesn’t entirely intrigue me, but I wanted to try it never the less.
I also won a Rutgers pom pom hat by spinning a wheel. Standing in line to spin the wheel ate up the majority of the time that we were there. We stayed for maybe thirty minutes and decided to check into the hotel next.
After spying the pool at the expo, all the AK could talk about was going swimming (even though she doesn’t know how), so we checked into the Hyatt, quickly put our stuff away, and headed down to the pool. We had a blast there and got local pizza and fries afterward for dinner at a place called Panico’s Restaurant + Bar. That seems to be my go-to meal before a race these days, as that’s what I also ate before my first marathon and a few other races. I ate my body weight in pizza, and it had been a long day, so we all went to bed around 9 p.m.
I made sure to lay out my race gear the night before, which included my Brooks Ghost 11s, my lucky Feetures socks (which used to be orange), black capris, my BibRave shirt, my BibRave visor, my Handful The Closer bra (check out my review here!), my Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro, and three GUs (Espresso Love, Campfire S’mores, and Birthday Cake).
I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. EST on Sunday, knowing that I wanted to be at the start no later than 7:30 for an 8:00 race start. I whipped my clothes and gear on as quickly as possible and ran down to the lobby to check us out while hubs graciously got the AK ready. (Thank you!)
We decided that although the walk to a shuttle to get to the start wasn’t far away (less than a mile), it wouldn’t behoove us to drag the AK around in the morning like that. Instead, we decided to drive back to the expo location to park at the race start.
As I was waiting for hubs to grab a cup of coffee in the lobby, I turned around to hear, “Becky?” Lo and behold it was BibRave Pro Miles and his fiance! We hadn’t planned on meeting up in the hotel because he was going to leave around 6:30 or 6:45 a.m., and I knew we’d be leaving later than that, so we were hoping to meet up at the starting line instead. This worked out even better though! Just like Lacey, Miles was just super genuine and nice. They wanted to catch the shuttle to the start, so we snapped a pic and wished each other good luck.
All three of us BibRave Pros were hoping to finish around 2:30 or so, so it was nice to say hi before the race knowing that I would likely see each on course as well.
Parking was fairly easy (albeit in a muddy field), and I used the porta-potty before hubs, the AK, and I walked toward the race start. The poop gods were on my side that day (don’t laugh, you know what I’m talking about), so that part of my pre-race nerves went away.
There was a chill in the air, but I wasn’t overly cold, and I hoped that the fog would dissipate some before the actual start. Aside from the fog, I noticed a nuun flag that made me smile from ear to ear! nuun was also on course, which was a godsend to me in the later miles (more to come on that).
We walked toward the race start and stood around for about ten minutes or so before they announced that the half marathoners should start walking to the start to line up. It still seemed early to me (with about twenty minutes or so before the race), but I think they did strategically. The 8K runners/walkers started fifteen minutes after the half marathoners, and I assume they wanted everyone lined up and ready to go as quickly as possible.
My strategy for this race was just to go slow and steady. I couldn’t find an elevation map for the course, but I assumed it was hillier than most courses in Delaware.
The course itself looped out and back a few times and went through the Livingston Campus, the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC), to the Busch Campus, past Rutgers Stadium, across a bridge going over the Raritan River, and finished past Buccleuch Park on College Ave.
I took my GUs at Miles 4, 8, and 12, starting with Espresso Love first, which is my tradition. (I don’t tend to drink coffee or eat anything before a race, so that’s kind of like my substitute for coffee.)
Two things surprised me during this race:
- I ran out of water in my Orange Mud hydration pack halfway through the race. I’m so glad that nuun was on course, because I definitely took advantage of it after Mile 6 or so. I didn’t feel like I was drinking an inordinate amount of water, but I guess I was!
- I’ve never run a race before where you go through the start/arch twice! Just after Mile 8, we ran through the start again, and I chuckled and noted to another runner that I hoped I wasn’t going the wrong way.
The Rutgers Unite Half Marathon & 8K turned out to be a great event! It was very well run, offered amazing course support, and the volunteers were enthusiastic and friendly.
With what I have to compare to here in Delaware, the course was fairly flat, well maintained, and very well marked.
Here are some fun facts: At Mile 5, I clocked in at 54:08, at Mile 10 I was at 01:49:45, and I finished in 02:26:08. My average pace was 11:08 per mile. I was #92 in my division, #601 in my gender, and #1692 overall.
If I have the opportunity to attend this race again, I definitely will!
Want to hear what another BibRave Pro thought of the race? Check out BRP Lacey’s review here.