Sunday, May 8, 2016

Holy Wind, Batman: Atlantic City April Fool's Half Marathon

Man, once I get out of the habit of posting here, it's hard to get back into it! Expect a number of posts over the next few weeks while I get back up to speed.   :)

Mark and I both ran a half marathon in early April. The race was in Atlantic City - the same one I had run last year without really training. Despite my stupidity it had been a fun race, and I wanted to see how well I could do if I actually applied myself a bit. I spent the past few months working with a running coach, and while my training didn't always go exactly to plan, I did at least have several long runs under my belt going into this race.

The race was on a Sunday morning and we couldn't get leave for Saturday, so we both worked day shifts, then drove directly to NJ from work. We somehow missed most of the traffic and made pretty good time on the drive.

We did make a short detour to Maplewood in Hammonton for dinner. Delicious carb loading is an important part of racing, right?

We made it to the hotel and checked in with no problems, and actually made it to bed fairly early. Not bad for the night before a race!

The alarm went off at 5am the next morning. I ate breakfast in the hotel room, then we walked over to Resorts to pick up our race packets. Don't let the nice peaceful scenery fool was insanely windy. Like, gusts over 50mph windy. And when we went to pick up our packets it was actually snowing a bit. Packet pickup was very easy and we wound up with a lot of time to kill before the race started, so we hung out in the room for a while and tried not to think about how windy the race was going to be.

We eventually made our way over to the start line on the boardwalk. Mark seemed super excited to get started. And by super excited, I mean that he seemed to be silently cursing me for dragging him into yet another ridiculous weather race. least it wasn't snowing anymore!

Aside from the wind, the weather was actually pretty nice. I was about as ready as I was going to be, so I was pretty happy when the race finally started.

I somehow didn't take a single picture during the race. That's ok, was so windy the phone might have actually blown out of my hands if I tried. When I realized how windy the forecast for race morning was, I threw out all plans of trying to get a PR (personal record) and decided to just aim to finish without hurting myself. That's basically what I did. I deliberately started way slower than I planned to see how the wind would affect my pace, then made adjustments along the way. The wind was insane and somehow came from every possible direction at different times, so it wasn't even like you could bank on running into a headwind or tailwind at certain parts of the race. There were a few spots where my face got sandblasted, and a few more parts where it was so windy that I kept kicking myself as the wind blew my raised foot into my other leg while running. I had to power-walk one section because it was like being in a wind tunnel...I was starting to get blown backward when my feet would briefly leave the ground during a running stride. I've never run in wind like was incredible.

I held up pretty well until mile 10, when my hip flexor started acting up from fighting the wind. I started taking walk breaks to try to loosen things up and ran as much as I could. I wound up walking a fair amount of the last three miles, and finally crossed the finish line with a time of 2:48:50. It was my second slowest time to date...but not my absolute slowest!! Given how insane the winds were, I wasn't about to complain. On the plus side, I had somehow dressed perfectly for the conditions, so I was comfortable the whole time, and I nailed my fueling, too, so I never felt like I was running out of steam. It was just So. Windy. I'd still gladly run this race again,'s a great course and the volunteers are awesome. Maybe next year...?

Mark met me at the finish line and I grabbed some snacks and my race medal before heading back to the room. He had a really good race and even ran one of his fastest times yet. He also saw a couple people actually get blown off their feet by the wind, which I thought was pretty funny.

We hung out in the hotel room, got cleaned up, and spent a little while watching TV and eating snacks before heading back out to explore a bit.

I made sure that we explored the delicious food at The Continental over at Caesars. Mmm...lobster mac and cheese. I had planned on having leftovers but accidentally ate the entire thing. Oops.

We took a quick walk on the beach, too, just to say we did. It was still windy, though not as bad as it had been during the race. My hip flexor was getting so tight that I was having a hard time walking, so we walked (I hobbled) back to the room to rest for a little while. We eventually went back over to Resorts to put a few dollars in a video poker machine (I put in $5 and walked away with $6.75...success!). We finished up with drinks at Bar One (with very generous pours from a really nice bartender that doesn't seem to work there very often), then grabbed some snacks before heading back to the room and passing out.

I had to get back to VA the next day since I would be leaving on another trip the day after that, so we woke up the next morning, packed up our stuff, and made our way back to Clayton for breakfast at the Liberty Diner with my parents and Mark's mom.

Mmm...crab eggs benedict, There are crab cakes hiding under the eggs.

It was really nice to catch up with everyone over breakfast. We made a couple quick stops on our way out, said our goodbyes, and made our way back to Virginia. It was a short and sweet trip to NJ; it would have been nice to stay longer, but I had a second trip planned!

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