Greetings from (just south of) Asbury Park

Well, here we are in Long Branch, NJ. One aspect to racing that I enjoy (besides not being able to drink on a Saturday night and getting up at 4 a.m. on Sunday mornings) is the opportunity to see new places.

Long Branch is, um, interesting. The “downtown” (as it were) reminds me of the horrible neighborhood I used to live in on Staten Island — but with lots of weird public art. There’s sculpture everywhere — or maybe it’s just very interesting garbage — lying around in empty lots full of wall to wall knee-high weeds, hanging in the branches of overgrown trees, littering the front lawn of a Dunkin’ Donuts. What the hell? Did the town get some pork barrel dollars for culture or something?

The boardwalk features a monument to seven presidents, headed up by James Garfield, who came here in an attempt to recover from being shot in an assassination attempt. There’s probably a really great slogan for their tourism department in there somewhere, but I’m too distracted to think it up right now. (He died anyway, but at least he was near the beach at the time.)

We got here hours early, so killed time walking the boardwalk and then previewing the race course by car. It’s flat as pancake save for two little speedbumps. (But very windy along the section where you run along the ocean. The weather forecast says much less wind tomorrow, and it should be a cross-wind, so not too bad.) The course runs through crappy downtown, then to the hoity toity area, where we’ll pass by enormous Queen Anne Victorians and other mansions. It’s actually a nice little town if you can get past the first impression of rundown weirdness.

Since we’re such a pair of goody two shoes, we didn’t dare try to check into our Holiday Inn Express until *exactly* 3PM, instead passing the time in the local Dunkin’ Donuts where I had my first Boston cream donut in about two decades. Then on to the hotel, where the lobby was filled with other runners, sprawling their runnerly legs all over the furniture. We have a king suite, which means two, count ’em, two!, televisions, a jetted tub (which looks like a cross between a two-seater paddleboat and something that would be used in a hospital rehab unit…very romantic), and a Stuart Little-sized refrigerator and microwave.

Whoops! 4:19! It’s nearly bedtime. More tomorrow.

Big racing weekend…in Joizy!

We’re heading out to Long Branch, NJ for a morning of racing tomorrow. The forecast is for thunderstorms, low 50s and low wind. Except for the thunderstorms bit, perfect weather for racing! I won’t even have to wear my bug sunglasses.

Jonathan’s doing the marathon, which he’s been training for over the past five months. He’s gotten very speedy, so I have high hopes (all of them based in reality) for him tomorrow. At the very least, he’ll look fetching in his spiffy new racing togs. And I’m hoping to update my “Personal Bests” ticker with a new, faster half marathon time. If I can bring home some cheap hardware, more’s the better. We’ll see.

One side note: Can you believe what a piece of shit the NJ Marathon’s Web site is? What is this, 1996? Check out the tee shirts too; I think someone let their kid loose with Adobe Illustrator rather than spring for a professional designer. No wonder people laugh at New Jersey.

I’ll also be doing my first race in my hazmat orange Sauconys, which I wish I’d had for the April marathon.

I just hope we don’t get lost. Every time I got to New Jersey, I get horribly, irredeemably lost.

In other news, REI has the Garmin 405, for all you people who have to have the latest. I’m sure if there was a Garmin store in Manhattan, there would be a line of skinny people with ridiculously low heart rates lining up with lawn chairs 24 hours before the thing went on sale. I’m happy enough with my hulking 305 model for now, although I’ve promised myself that once I get down to a proper racing weight (meaning I’m not obviously fatter than everyone who beats me), I’ll spring for the new toy.

Race report to come…