A couple of weeks ago, the owner of the website, New Jersey Isn’t Boring, and I went to the Huck Finn Diner in Union. I thought I had been already but turns out I was thinking of the Tom Sawyer Diner or Mark Twain Diner. As you can see, there are a lot of literary diners around Union.
Long time readers know, but Cyd and I try and hang out at least once a month. She reviews diners as well as everything else in New Jersey so she is the pro…If you ever find yourself in New Jersey check out her website and you won’t have any trouble finding something to do.
We arrived on a dreary weekday, and the diner wasn’t terribly crowded. While I’ve wanted to go out to various diners as well as seeing friends, I also want to eat healthy during my lead up to the Atlantic City Half Marathon. Even though I didn’t run well, at least I ate healthy…I guess.
There isn’t anything too unique or unusual about the Huck Finn Diner. It’s clean, and there is both a salad bar as well as full bar. It would be interesting if they added a Huck Finn painting or centered more of the atmosphere around the book. The building itself was clean, open and had plenty of seating so I can’t complain about that.
The waitress was kind and refilled our beverages, but it did take awhile. We waited a few times for drink refills. The food itself took about 15 minutes to come out which wasn’t bad.
The coffee was from Lacas and was piping hot. My only complaint was needing a bigger mug! Other than that, it was great.
The menu at the Huck Finn Diner is huge, and they have everything you want or need in a diner. Plus they have plenty of specials as well.
I was hungry, so I decided to order the split pea soup. It came with a bowl of croutons to add to my soup at my leisure.
For my entree, I ordered the Huck Finn salad which came with arugula, blue cheese, apples and walnuts topped with balsamic dressing. They used red delicious apples which are my favorite apple. Like any salad, I prefer to add protein so I also added salmon. My salad itself was great, and I have no complaints. The salmon portion was one of the biggest of any diners I’ve been too. The salmon and salad were both extremely fresh.
For my soup, salad, salmon and coffee the cost was $21. It was on the pricier side but worth it.
Overall thoughts/Would I come back?
I enjoyed the Huck Finn Diner and would definitely come back. It’s one of my favorites in the area.
Atmosphere: B Coffee: A Service: B Food: A Cost: $10-20 Overall: A
I’ve mentioned countless times I’ve been stuck in a plateau since October. The April Fools half marathon was supposed to be “the redemption race”. As you can see, that didn’t happen.
That being said, I have no regrets about the race, and I raced as hard as I could for the day. It just wasn’t my day. Which is also unfortunate because the weather was also ideal. I have a lengthy post about training hard and not meeting your goals, but today is just a post about a girl running her heart out in Atlantic City.
I was back and forth with getting a hotel room down the shore but ultimately chose to sleep in my own bed. I left my house at 6 am and arrived at the race around 7:15. Somehow I managed to get the very last parking spot in the Resorts Casino Hotel which is a parking lot that fits at least 1000 cars. I’m always pushing the limits when I go to races, and of course, this was no exception.
I got to the race start and was able to use one of the dozens of nice casino bathrooms. I always think Atlantic City races are underrated. There is plenty of parking, nice bathrooms and they are well put together.
Not much of note happened before the race. I chatted to a few local friends beforehand but nothing crazy. The race started at 8 and off we went.
Immediately I noticed a woman take off ahead. I knew she would win.
Win the race I won last year. After about a minute of letting that sink in, I focused on my own race. You can’t control who shows up.
With that, I focused on the first mile. I’ve run the race twice before (in 2014 and 2016), and I know the course well. The first mile went down the wooden boardwalk. I was running in a pack, and we hit the first mile in 6:20. I was surprised, and honestly, I didn’t feel that bad.
The next two miles were uneventful. I ran with the pack, and we logged an exact 20 minute 5k. I felt extremely stiff when running. Throughout the entire race, I never felt like I loosened up.
Around mile 3.5 we got off the boardwalk and headed onto the paved street. As we crossed down, someone was on their cell phone texting, and I had to shout please look up. Otherwise, I would have run smack into him! At that point, I began feeling stale, and I suppose that would have given me an excuse to drop out. Other than that the fourth mile was uneventful.
During the next two miles, I focused on getting to the halfway point. I knew we would be turning around and I wanted to get my bearings. I knew my friend Erin was gaining behind me and I knew the elite woman was several minutes in front. Other than that, I was running alone and knew nothing. Around 5.5, I saw the leaders turning around, and the elite lady was second overall for both and female. That was amazing to see (because she had also run the 11k the day before).
I crossed the turnaround in 42:30 and found myself side by side with Erin. She looked strong and was on target for a PR. It was super motivating because despite feeling like garbage, seeing friends succeed still motivates me. As we started running the opposite direction, I saw several local runners cheering.
I felt terrible was just trying to put it behind me. I hit the 7th and 8th mile in 6:48. There was a surprisingly strong headwind during the two miles, and it crushed me both mentally and physically.
There have been a handful of races I was one thought away from dropping out. Atlantic City was one of them. I didn’t have anyone expecting me at the finish line. There were no friends or family to look in the eyes for me to say why I quit. I never need anyone at the finish line, but it made it easy to justify just stopping. I wasn’t injured, but mentally I was destroyed.
For some reason, I kept going. I remembered both marathons with 3 miles to go that I felt the same way: like I would never get there. I just remembered the race was probably 30 minutes more of my life and I was done.
We ran back onto the wooden Boardwalk could see the Resorts hotel and the finish several miles in the distance. My friend Erin, myself and another male were running down the boardwalk side by side.
By mile 10, I just gave it everything I had and surged. I didn’t have much left in the tank but ran 11 and 12 in 6:30.
As I remembered, the last mile of Atlantic City races feels never ending. You see the casino where the race ends but don’t see the actual finish line until a quarter mile to go. I had broken up the pack and was running alone.
I finally saw the finish line and gave it everything I had, but it was not enough. Erin passed me in the final stride and won out second place. Our chip times were identical but overall goes by gun and she finished one second faster. I finished bittersweet. I fell short of my training cycle goals, and I placed third in a race I had won last year.
Even though I finished with my slowest time on the best weather day, I’ve had for that race I was happy to finish healthy.
It’s been nearly a week since I finished and had time to reflect. My goal for the last 6 months was to PR at the April Fools half marathon, and I missed that goal by about 4 minutes. As I mentioned in my last training post. 1:26 is a respectable half marathon time, but it’s not the time I trained for. When you don’t meet goals, it stinks. I’ve accepted it and moved on. While running is what I choose to post about on social media, it does not define my life. I finished the training cycle healthy, and while I didn’t meet any goals or expectations, there are many more years and training cycles left in my life.
I won’t lie and say I’m happy with the race because I’m not. I will not, however, let it define me and I’ll continue to move forward.
I do have Broad Street 10 miler next weekend, which will be more of a fun race for me than anything. Last year, I surprised myself and ran a 1:01.57. This year I’m excited to spend time with my family. Of course, I would love to run well, but I’ve removed expectations from the race, and my only goal is to have fun.
I’m still formulating plans and goals for the summer, but the summer is the time for enjoying local races in the community.
Questions for you:
Have you ever not met expectations for a training cycle?
Recently a reader sent an email and asked if I could put together a list of articles I’ve written recently about running shoes and training. Thinking out loud, none of the articles are “new”, but it makes a lot of sense to have them all compiled into one spot.
Instead of doing a Running Store post this week, I thought I would get all of the posts together in one spot. As always, if you have a question about shoes, the running store, or anything else feel free to ask. I’m not an expert or professional but I do like running and working in a running store.
There you have it! As always if you have any questions or comments, feel free to ask. I’ve gotten a couple questions regarding nutrition (something I’m still trying to figure out) as well as fun things to do outside of running that I’ll be chatting about soon too!
Questions for you:
What is a fun fact about your job?
What is one thing you enjoy about the sport of running?
Recently I decided to try the Asics Nimbus 19. I’m no stranger to the Nimbus and have run in the Asics Nimbus 17 as well as the lower cushion Asics Cumulus 18 too. I’ve even run in the Asics FuzeX as well as the max-cushioned Asics Quantum. Come to think of it, I’ve run in most Asics neutral shoes.
Recently, the Nimbus has been extremely inconsistent. Both the sizing and feel of the shoe is completely different from one model to the next. Neither “feel” is bad, but it’s hard because if you like a soft feel and the next version is firm, it’s not a shoe you will love.
The Nimbus 19 is a shoe you need to try on before purchasing. A few years ago the Nimbus ran big with plenty of room. However, this year it’s tight.
Sizing is not a concern, and it’s just a matter of finding what works for you. You also have to keep in mind there have been 19 models of the Nimbus, so Asics must be doing something right.
Oh, where to start with the fit. To start off, it fits tight and narrow. I normally wear a women’s size 10 in running shoes, and in the Asics Nimbus 19, I wear a size 11 wide. Sizing is not a big deal, but it’s a shoe you need to try on. Don’t expect to be in the same size “you’ve always worn”.
Compared to the previous versions, the upper of the shoe is screen printed and the weave is tighter. It doesn’t use the “traditional” mesh of other Asics shoes and is seamless. Once I found the appropriate size, it’s a comfortable shoe. The seamless upper allows no rubbing at the top, and for me personally nothing rubs.
The new Nimbus 19 now combines both gel and the latest Asics cushioning system: Flytefoam (similar to the FuzeX).
Why does this matter? Flytefoam makes the shoe significantly lighter and makes the Nimbus a lot firmer. It no longer feels like a giant soft sponge under your foot. With the addition of the Flytefoam, it is a drastic difference. The cushion is still there but it’s a different type and feels softer and lighter.
In summary, I like the shoe. I’ll run through this version and use them on easy days or recovery days. I will also say they are a great workout shoe and I tend to do most of my cross training in them too. This is a shoe that will probably migrate towards my easy running days and cross training shoe because of all of the cushion.
In summary, last week I tapered for a race that didn’t go well. For the last six months, I poured my heart into training, recovering and eating relatively well and didn’t achieve what I wanted. As blunt as that is, it seems to be the theme of the last few months of training. While yes, a 1:26 is a very respectable half marathon time, but it’s not what I trained for or wanted. When you don’t achieve what you train for, it stinks.
But that is a post for another day. Last week I just focused on easy runs and tapering. As far as the actual week of training, it was one of my boring weeks. Tapering should be though. I spent the week without my Garmin and just ran the same 5-7 mile loops that I typically do.
Not worrying about pace this week was fun and I viewed most of my runs as outings versus strenuous runs. They were relaxing, and I enjoyed them. I actually began to feel confident going into the April Fools half marathon that I would be able to turn the lackluster training cycle around. At first, the weather was supposed to pour rain, and then, it just didn’t. It turned out to be a little bit windy but other than that, ideal conditions.
Easy 5…was going to do 7 but felt like garbage so didn’t
Atlantic City Half (1:26.20)
On Thursday, I was both tired and exhausted so just decided not to do 7. I actually don’t know if I ran 5 at all because I took the shortest route possible home. I do know it was between 4-5.
To Briefly Recap the Atlantic City Half Marathon:
It was supposed to rain but then didn’t. With the exception of wind, the conditions were ideal. I never felt great from the gun. Before the race, I actually thought I might PR, or run well but it didn’t happen. My splits ranged from 6:20-6:50 depending on the wind but the majority were around 6:30. I didn’t meet my A goal (to PR), my B goal (to run under 1:25) but I did meet my C goal of finishing healthy.
What are my plans for next week?
This week, while not ideal for Broad Street I’m taking time off. Maybe I’ll run this week, maybe I won’t. The race as well as where I’m at mentally was a red flag that I do need a few days I need at least a few days off from running.
Questions for you:
How was your week of training?
Have you ever not met a goal during a training cycle?
A few weeks ago I found myself in Woodstown, NJ. I had driven by the Woodstown Diner a few times and heard it was good. Since it was around lunchtime, I wanted to stop.
The outside of the Woodstown Diner is a normal but lengthy building. It looks like a regular restaurant versus a metallic, shiny diner. I was shocked to see how long the Woodstown Diner is. From the road, it looks like it might seat 50 people but once you pull into the parking lot, you realize it can probably sit close to 200!
The inside of the diner itself has several rooms including a bar and banquet hall. It was definitely surprising. Many people don’t realize this, but liquor laws in New Jersey are strict, and it’s rare to find a diner in South Jersey that serves alcohol. In fact, New Jersey is one of the few states with dry towns that don’t serve alcohol at all.
Even though it wasn’t crowded, we were sat in the second room next to the dirty dish cart. Out of all the tables, I wasn’t sure why the manager sat me there. It was loud, and our meal was constantly interrupted by staff bussing tables and clinking of dishes.
The manager seemed to be having a difficult day when he sat us. He threw the menus on the table and walked away. The waitress of the Woodstown Diner was friendly, and I have no complaints. She refilled our beverages often, and the food was brought out fairly quick.
Even though the coffee mug was small, the coffee itself was good. The Woodstown Diner uses the local Lacas coffee which as many readers know is my favorite!
The menu at the Woodstown Diner is that of a typical diner. They have everything from eggs to lunch and plenty of specials. Everything about the menu is traditional, and there wasn’t anything that grabbed my eye as being unique or extraordinary. I decided to order a gyro wrap with French fries. A classic diner favorite but not something I’ve ordered in a while!
The gyro itself was huge. It was packed well with plenty of lettuce, gyro meat, onions, and tomato. It was packaged well and one of the least messy gyro wraps I’ve had. It came with steak fries which weren’t bad.
For my gyro and coffee, the cost was $10. One of my cheaper diner meals.
Overall summary/Would I come back?
I enjoyed the Woodstown Diner, and it was definitely a hidden gem in Southern New Jersey. While the manager was somewhat rude, our service, in general, was decent and I would go back.
Summary: Atmosphere: B Coffee: B Service: B Food: B Cost: $8-15 Overall: B
Incase you weren’t aware, it’s finally getting warmer. Although, if you are anything like the Northeast, our weather went from 30 degrees to 80. It feels as though there wasn’t much middle ground! Hopefully, your body adjusts faster than mine.
Thinking out loud, running in the heat can be a challenge. Even though it’s usually more enjoyable than running in the cold, there are a lot of difficulties and obstacles you face by running in the warm weather too.
So How can you Prepare for Spring and Summer Running this Year?
This is probably the most important advice!
It doesn’t mean drink a liter of water directly before your run. It means staying hydrating throughout the day.
Drink more water before, after and during your run. Also don’t forget that you also lose electryltes while running in warmer conditions. During the warmer months, it’s important to add salt tabs or Gatorade to the mix too. Every runner has their own personal preferance of what works for the stomach and system. I am fortanate that most any electrolyte drink works well for me, I just need to remember to drink it.
Adjust your Run for the Temperature and Humidity
Don’t be ashamed to back off pacing or dial it back because it’s hot. Run by effort and feel, not based on what the workout pace should be at ideal conditions.
For example, on Sunday, I had a tempo run scheduled. It was 85 degrees and while my pace was “supposed” to be 6:45, I ran 7:18 and was struggling. Was I upset? No! Was I injured? No. I adjusted my pace accordingly and ran by effort. It’s important to take note that running in the heat effects your body and you won’t hit the same paces as running in ideal conditions.
Wear Appropriate Clothing:
You could run naked but that would end up being sunburnt and uncomfortable. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen as well as moisture wicking clothing. I’ll have to do a current post of running clothing I’m loving this season but in the mean time here are some things not to forget:
Hat (to keep sun off your face)
Moisture wicking and noncotton clothing: including a top, sports bra, shorts, underwear and socks. Cotton anything will absorb sweat and become heaving causing blisters, chafing and who knows what else.
Sunglasses: To keep your eyes protected
Body glide and sunscreen (because chafing stinks)
Be Flexible with Your Schedule:
Whether you need to run inside or run early, don’t be afraid to change your plan. Run at the best time of the day.
You aren’t a hero if you run in 100-degree heat at high noon! In the winter, typically running at lunch time is ideal but that isn’t usually the case over the summer. That’s normally when it’s the hottest. Don’t be afraid to change the time of day you run or where you run.