Saturday, April 18, 2015

Atlantic City April Fool's Half Marathon Recap

Maybe a better title for this post would be "How To Run a Half Marathon When You've Half-Assed Your Training and Your Longest Run Was a Lazy Five Miler". I had good intentions when I signed up for this race last fall; I had planned to finally buckle down, focus on training properly, and really race instead of just finishing. Ha. That's not quite what happened. A living room redo, a new puppy, some crummy weather, and a serious lack of motivation got me to the starting line very undertrained and in a foul mood. Yay running!

I'll have a post about the rest of the weekend soon, but to make a long story short, my mom and I spent the night before the race at Caesars in Atlantic City. I woke up somewhere around 5am, ate breakfast in the room, got ready to go, and left to walk to the start line at 7am. The weather was absolutely gorgeous - sunny, very little wind, and upper 40's - and the boardwalk was empty except for a handful of other runners (and a few people stumbling around mumbling to themselves, apparently still out from the night before). It only took me about 20 minutes to wander down to the start line in front of Resorts, which left plenty of time to stand there, wondering why the hell I was running this race when I screwed up my training so bad.

More and more runners showed up, and since there was a costume contest, there were at least some interesting costumes to look at (sorry, I forgot to grab pictures). One couple dressed up as bacon and eggs, a group of girls dressed up like girl scouts of some sort, and some guy showed up wearing nothing but a Speedo and a bunch of lines drawn on his face. Lots of people were wearing tutus, too. Eventually 8am rolled around and the race started.

A few minutes before the race started. At least the weather was nice!

I don't think I've ever started a run, training or otherwise, in such a rotten place mentally. I spent at least the first mile thinking about how terrible I felt and how dumb it was that I was doing this race after screwing up my training and how still running the race was a terrible idea and why did it feel so hard when I was only in the first mile and there were still so many miles left to go and why were my legs still moving when it would be so easy to step off the course and just stop. After a little while I managed to push that all aside and started to feel a bit better, thank goodness.

This was a great course. The first few miles head south on the boardwalk through Ventnor City. Eventually you run off the boardwalk, go one block over, then spend a couple miles running along Atlantic Ave through Margate City and Longport before turning around and basically repeating the course in reverse. There were bands and DJs randomly set up along the way, and plenty of aid stations with water and Gatorade. I think some of them had Gu, too, but I'm not sure since I brought my own.

We also ran past Lucy the Elephant. It's an elephant-shaped building that was built in 1881, and even though I grew up in NJ and it's supposedly a famous landmark, I had never seen it before. Mark kept insisting I was making it up, and when I texted him this picture after the race, he texted back, "You went through a lot of work to make up that elephant. Good job".

By the time we passed the elephant we were five or so miles in, and I was actually putting up some good (for me) times on each mile. The course was fantastically flat; according to my Garmin, the elevation gain for the entire race was 30 feet. To compare, the shortest loop I run around my neighborhood at home is 1.34 miles and has an elevation gain of 48 feet, so it was a real treat to not have hills. The steepest part of the entire race was the ramp back onto the boardwalk.

I took this somewhere just past mile 9, right after we came back up onto the boardwalk. This is where the wheels fell off. All I had to do was run on the boardwalk back to Resorts, but I might as well have had to run all the way back to Philly for how far away it seemed. It didn't take long for my pace to drop off, and by mile 12 the best I could do was a 13:44 mile. Oof. I did at least manage to pass the bacon and eggs I saw earlier, though I got picked off in the finish chute by some lady in a tutu that I think had been following me since we passed Lucy the Elephant the second time. I didn't have the legs (or the give-a-$%@#) to pass her back, so I just kept plugging away and crossed the finish line in 2:45:12, which somehow wound up being my second fastest time to date.

I had seen bottles of Gatorade at the finish line before the race started, but apparently I ran too slow and they were all gone by the time I finished. They were handing out soft pretzels and boardwalk popcorn, though (clearly a NJ race!), so I grabbed one of each. I tried to figure out how to get my free beer, but it was too confusing for how lazy I was feeling so I took my snacks and walked down to the beach to sit for a few minutes.

I'm so sorry, legs.

I hung out on the beach for a little while...

...dipped my feet in the VERY cold water, then eventually made my way back to the hotel. There were still people wearing numbers trickling in as I got closer to Caesars, doing the half marathon death shuffle toward the finish line.

Overall, this was a great race and I'm sorry I didn't do it justice. I'd gladly run it again; it was a fun, flat course with good support. It was also a bit of a kick in the pants for me mentally. I'm done going into races unprepared, and I'm going to take a bit of a break from longer distances until I've reached a point that I can be disciplined enough to stick to a training plan. I'm tired of having such slow finish times, and it's time to start putting in the effort to get faster.

No comments:

Post a Comment