Posted by: sonewjersey | September 23, 2011

No Turning Back: My First Half Marathon

SONJ athlete Bobby Fredericks shares his joy and triumph in completing his first half marathon – the Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon – last weekend, on September 18th. Bobby trained for months to prepare, and with the help of  Matt Willey, SONJ Director of Training & Sports Development, he successfully finished the 13.1 mile course in 2 hours, 1 minute and 10 seconds (pace 9:14 per mile). Bobby finished 6,873 out of 16,476 finishers. Congratulations!!

by Bobby Fredericks

It’s me, Bobby Fredericks back with another blog. I started participating with Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) 25 years ago and I play volleyball, floor hockey, basketball and track and field. My last blogs covered my awesome experiences with SONJ, the Lincoln Tunnel Challenge, and the 2010 National Games in Nebraska.

Bib #11660

Over the past year, I continued running in several 5K races and in the Jersey Shore Relay Marathon in April. I ran with Matt Willey from SONJ in the first leg which was 6.1 miles, the longest I’ve ever run before. When we finished, he asked me if I would be interested in running in a half marathon and of course, I said YES! This would be my first time ever running 13.1 miles and I was really excited and a little nervous. I was committed to run in the Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon on September 18th, 2011!

I started training right away, running on my treadmill every day and going to some local 5K races. I even ran in the Torch Run in June as part of my training and ran seven miles.

In August, I started a more intensive running schedule as planned out by my running partner, Matt. I had to build up to longer miles, adjusting from an easy pace to marathon pace. In addition, I did a lot of cross training on a stationary bike along with a lot of stretching. During the summer, it wasn’t easy to schedule especially with the hot weather and working as a full-time counselor at a special needs summer camp. But my Mom and Dad were always there to encourage me and keep me on track. I only got one rest day per week but on those days, I did yoga and strength training programs using my Wii. From April to September, I ran a total of 350.5 miles.

Me with Matt Willey

Because we had to be in Philly really early on race day, we stayed at a hotel the night before. Because I needed a lot of rest, I got to sleep at about 9:30pm. Then in the middle of the night, the hotel’s fire alarm went off and woke us all up. Luckily I went back to sleep after we evacuated. The next morning I had to wake up at 5am and meet Matt so that we could head into Philadelphia for the race. I was ready to run the Rock N Roll half marathon.

There were a total of about 24,000 runners and since you can’t send 24,000 runners off all at once they used a “wave” start. To accomplish this they had us stage in “corrals” with 1,000 runners per corral, which means that there was a total of 24 “corrals”. Matt, his friend JD, and I were staged in corral 11. When our corral reached the starting line the gun went off and that was the moment when I knew that there was “no turning back”.

In the corral

The 3 of us stayed together most of the way as we ran past some well-known Philly landmarks such as Independence Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art where the finish line was located. The event also had a cool tool that alerted my parents through text message at the 5k, 10k, and 10-mile marks as well as the finish line. They liked it because they knew where we were and how we were doing with our times.

Running through the streets of Philadelphia was really interesting. Most of the course was wide and we kept a good pace. We ran down some streets that I was surprised cars fit on and it wasn’t easy with thousands of runners either. During the race, Matt was updating us on our pace. At the last five miles, we were ready to pick up the pace.

I was working to get my time under 2 hours. Along the way, we drank water at every stop. At mile markers 6 and 10, we used our GU (pronounced Goo). GU is an energy gel that looks something like toothpaste and gives a distance runner an energy boost. It works but doesn’t taste so good.All along the race route, there were different bands playing about every mile which was really cool. There was also a post-race concert starring Bret Michaels. He put on a great concert and I would go to see him in concert if he ever came to our area.

Representing SONJ!

When we saw the finish line, I used whatever I left in me to finish the race. Matt and I crossed over together at a time of 2 hours, 1 minute and 10 seconds. It was an awesome day and I couldn’t have done it without Matt’s guidance and support throughout the race. We met our families after the race and celebrated with a lot of high fives and hugs. I can’t wait to do it again!!!

I am definitely going to keep training so that I can be ready for another Half-Marathon and I hope I get to run with Matt again.  Next goal is to do it under 2 hours!!! Let’s rock n roll!!!



  1. Are u still running?

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