Atlantic City Half Marathon (1:23.23)

This was exactly an 86 second half marathon PR for me and the first PR I’ve gotten since July (technically I got 3 I guess).  After having a frustrating Shamrock race last month, I was looking for redemeption.  I was really hoping that Atlantic City would be that half.  Anyways-

Tim promised that we could stay overnight in Atlantic City.  I didn’t want to drive 2 hours before an “A” race.  I wanted to relax and walk to the starting line (or even driving 15 minutes would be fine too..I didn’t want to drive from my house race day though).  So we splurged and stayed down in Atlantic City.

The race started at 8 am, which happens to be one of my favorite race starting times.  We headed to the race and after finding baggage we headed towards the starting line.  (The mile walk to the start was a good enough “warm up” for me).

At the starting line they were playing one of my favorite songs.  The first row of males were clearly elite.  They were serious…they were in the zone.  The second row of mostly elite runners were also in the zone…except for me I was dancing because it was my jam.  I did manage to “look serious” for the race start so I wouldn’t photobomb the actual first row.

I chatted with Lauren for a bit (who ended up winning female overall!). During the first mile I was just trying to gauge how I was feeling.  I felt really good (apparently) because my first mile was a 6:11.  That was faster than last weeks 5 mile race.

The course was out and back.  With the exception of some wind, it is a fast course.  With many spring coast half marathons, the hardest factor could be the wind (like Shamrock 2013).  While it was windy from mile 5-9, I didn’t find the wind as challenging as other half marathons though (The race was on the boardwalk for the majority of the time).

The second and third mile went by rather quickly.  I found myself in a lady pack with two other women (Lauren, myself and another woman).  There were also two cyclists beside us.  I have to admit the Atlantic City half really knows how to make you feel like a Rockstar.  We ran the majority of the race together.

I hit the 5k in 19:27.  That is the fastest 5k I have run since possibly last summer.  Somewhere after the 5k, a male joined our 3 woman lady pack.  He expressed he was quite upset that people where cheering “great job woman, ladies, ect”.  He wanted some great jobs too!  After hanging around for a couple of miles he left and surged forward. I was sad because he was a little more chatty.

Around mile 5 we left the boardwalk and went onto the Atlantic City streets.  It reminds me a lot of VA Beach.

While in the streets, we could see the overall males coming back towards us.  They were seriously cruising and I knew by the look on their faces that it was probably rather windy coming back.

I hit the 10k mark at 39:04 (which is a 10k PR for me too).  Between the 10k and half way mark, I grabbed some water that I spilled half of it on me and probably everyone around me.

I hit the halfway point in exactly 41:45.  Right before the halfway I  saw the male that had previously run with us.  I chanted “Great job man” as loud as I possibly could…he seemed happy.

As we turned around I noticed how windy it was.  It was a cross wind so it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t enjoyable either.  At this point I realized how toast my legs were.  Luckily we started to see other people going the opposite direction so it was motivating.  The lady pack ended up dropping to just Lauren and myself.  Without her I don’t think I would have held on for as long as I did.

Around mile 9 we headed back onto the boardwalk.  Mile 9 was my slowest mile at 6:29.  At mile 9 I began to wonder if I could maintain this pace.  Would the wheels fall off…I felt awful and 4 miles seemed like a really long time.  I just kept going though and I was still hanging on with Lauren.  I also saw Victoria and gave her a side five!  I had been looking for her for about a mile and was hoping I didn’t miss her.  I needed something (besides my legs) to focus on.

(at the end)
(at the end)

At mile 10 I delayered my dollar tree gloves.  Mile 10 is normally a good mile for me because I remind myself that (hopefully) I have about 20 minutes left.  I can do it.  Today, I was getting tired and worn out. I hit the 10 mile mark at 1:03.10.

Mile 11 was when Lauren began her kick.  I knew at that point she would win the race.  I did not have anything in me to keep up.  I wish I could tell you I did but I gave everything to that race.  I was struggling to stay where I was at let alone hammer down.  I ran 11 at 6:17 and began the long mile home solo.

When I saw mile 12, I knew the end was near.  Though I was running by myself at this point I just focused on finishing.  It could have been the longest 7 minutes of my life.  (Think 7 microwave minutes).

When I crossed the finish line I nearly ran into the people passing out medals.  I am glad I didn’t finish with anyone else around because I probably would have toppled over.

After grabbing a medal, I sat down and just relaxed in the moment.  It was nice to watch several finishers come in and be announced.  I was hoping for a PR and I’m glad I was able to finally achieve that.  Sunday was a perfect day for a race.  I had been on the fence to run either the CGI Love Run (Philly) last weekend or the Atlantic City half marathon but I am so glad (weather wise) that I went for this one.  You could not have asked for a better day.  I had a great time and am glad to finally log a new PR.  (something I haven’t done since my 5k PR in July).

Cliff notes: In summary this race was exactly what I wanted.  A new PR, a great time and an even better end to that week.  I can back with a 10k PR (39:04), a 10 mile PR (1:03.10) and of course a half marathon PR.  (1:23.23).  I should probably do other distance races to work on my other PRs. 

Questions for you:

What is your optimal race temperature?

Have you ever run in a pack with people the entire race?

I thought it was fun.  I just wish I had more people to chat with; it made the miles go by so slow.


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  1. Congratulations on your PR! That’s a good PR and it’s neat that you PRed the 10K inside a half and your 5K time was so good. Definitely good you had a hotel before the race and did not have to drive several hours and sit in a car, that would not be fun for the legs right before a race, and the wakeup time would kinda suck too.

    I’ve only run in a pack once and that’s when I was pacing a race. Normally the races here are small enough that at least where I am in the pack (mid-packer here), there are not a TON of people. Granted I’ve never done a huge race like the bridge run, but in races like the Charleston Half Marathon, which is pretty big, I was around some people but not a whole lot and I finished in 1:50. I think it would be cool though… I run in a pack on Sunday mornings for our long-ish run and the guys break the wind bc they’re taller so that’s kinda nice, hehe. Plus it is fun to have people to talk to in training runs, don’t know that I’d talk much in a race. Maybe a half.

  2. Nice job Hollie! That is a HUGE PR, and exceeded your expectations of when we met up about your goal! So cool, very happy for you 🙂 I know what you mean about the last few minutes feeling like microwave minutes, thats a great analogy, and very true 😛

    Excited to see what the next few months hold for you, and it sounds like you had a much better day than the LOVE run in Philly!

    I have not had a pack race either, I always hear about it, but somehow end up alone every race. This weekend it was my own fault for going out too conservative so that I eventually ran out of people to chase. I am hoping in Chicago I can settle into a pack and relax a little!

  3. Congrats!!! It sounds like you ran an awesome race.

    I love mid-60’s and sunny. I know a lot of people prefer light clouds, but I thrive on the sun 🙂

  4. I don’t know how you talk when you’re racing lol I get so winded and am barely able to gasp for breath let alone hold a conversation! Haha but anyways, congrats on an amazing race, this really was the best week ever for you!

  5. Girl, you’re an animal! Thanks for such a smoking race, it was PR city for me too and I couldn’t have done it without you. I’d race with you anytime although the chatting will never happen, I still don’t know how you pull that off. 🙂 Congratulations!

    1. Congratulations on your win Lauren! You and Hollie both looked so strong when you zipped by, it pushed me to go faster and harder!

      1. Thanks guys! You both should check out Ocean Drive next year, depending on wind it’s a great course for busting out a new 10-mile (or marathon!) PR 🙂

      2. Thanks for the suggestion Lauren! I’ll have to look it up! I love the 10-mile race distance and am overdue to shatter that PR. Congrats again!

  6. Dude! That is such a crazy fast race. I can’t manage to run sub 7’s for longer than a 5K so you are basically my hero. the best race temp for me is about 50-55 degrees (and while I prefer sun most of my PR’s have been set in the rain…) I tend to race ALL by myself, I get stuck in no mans land after the fast people and in front of the peloton… So lonely!!!

  7. So so proud of you. Seriously, knew you had it in you and glad you had the perfect day for it. So much good to come for you 🙂 I love that picture of you and Tim, goofy crazy FAST couple.

  8. Congrats! All that hard work, I knew a PR was going to happen for you this spring! I need to take racing lessons from you I think, when I feel like you did at mile 10, I let off a bit and I come off the course knowing I left something out there. I love reading your race recaps 🙂

  9. OMG! Congrats doll on the PR…. Great race! Optimal running temps would be 60 and little to no wind… I’m a little person, wind is like my cryptonite:(
    Great job again doll!

  10. Yay PR! Well done!
    I agree that 8 AM is a perfect start time. How did it feel to run on the boardwalk? Microwave minutes is a good way to describe time passing slowly.

  11. Congrats!! I know you’ve worked so hard for this – so BOOYAH!! Also, “lady pack” might just be the best term I’ve ever heard.

  12. My surgeon (he’s like 76) just told me he ran this race yesterday and it was an awesome last minute decision! He registered 10 minutes prior to the gun! Ha! I told him one of my runner friends got second female, I think. He thinks I could be that speedy. HA I ran like 10 minute miles. You are an amazing runner. I really want to watch you run one day to see your speedy self in action. Plus a side high five, duh!

  13. Wow, great job, congrats on all the PRs! It does help running with others. My first half PR I ran the whole way with my sister. I wanted to stop at several points, but thought in my head “If she can do it, I can too.” It wasn’t till after the race that she told me she was thinking the same thing!

  14. I really prefer my races to start at 7am and be in the 40’s at the start. I’m a cold weather runner which is difficult since I live in California.

    I have never run in a pack for an entire race. I almost always end up entirely alone, especially at the finish.

    1. I almost always do too! I’ve never run a race with people for the entire race. Normally someone breaks away and we run separate races at some point!

  15. Amazing. Seriously. 1:23?! That’s unreal. I like races in the 70s I guess…and a ltitle drizzle. I never mind the rain.

  16. Congrats!! That is a huge PR and you’ve worked really hard to get it.

    My ideal race temps are in the low 50s…my last race was low 40s and pouring rain :(. I ran a decent portion of it with a pace group and really enjoyed it. I find that I typically run faster when I’m with other people too because I won’t let myself slow down and lose them.

  17. What an awesome PR for you! That is so awesome!!
    I love 12C and slightly overcast with NO wind. I’ve ran every race on my own with the exception of Disney, but Disney was a fun run and not a serious race. I guess I’m bad at making friends… 🙂

  18. Congratulations! I literally shoved people out of the way when I saw you (and Lauren) running towards me. I still don’t know how I manged to yelp out your name saw I couldn’t form words as I saw most of my friends after the turnaround. But way to push it! I loved this course, particularly running on the boardwalk. Hope we get to race together again soon! (and it was so nice to meet Tim)

  19. Congratulations!!!! I was excited to read about this race cause I had a feeling you were going to do great! And I still think it’s nice when people who can run 100 miles in a week feel like 4 miles seems long! Haha 🙂 Fantastic job!

  20. Do you ever take a bad race photo? Seriously, you give that ridiculously photogenic guy a run for his money. Even when you’re obviously working hard you look amazing.

    That’s just an incredible PR, and you’re going from strength to strength. It’s so wonderful to ‘watch’ through your blog, just from a selfish perspective. You’re done with your race and on the way home before I even get to 11 miles I think!

    I’m always on my own, even during races…unless it’s an absolutely huge event, I seem to avoid being in a pack. Must be because I’m just ahead of the average runners, but nowhere near any of the fast people, so I get stuck in a gap between the two as it were.

    I don’t really have an optimal race temperature as long as it’s not ridiculously hot…I’d rather have extremes of temperature than windy conditions because I’d rather have ANYTHING besides windy conditions 😛


  21. Killer race! I’m from one town south of AC, and if I still lived there I totally would have run this race! I absolutely love running on the boardwalk! The salt air, zero elevation and the springy boads make it an absolute dream to run! Congrats on a new PR!!

  22. Awesome recap and awesome result!! Congrats! I love reading about your races and accomplishments.

    I have a week and a half until the Boston Marathon! Yikes. 🙂

  23. So so so happy for you. You are absolutely incredible.

    I giggled harder than I probably should have at ‘lady pack.’

  24. Congratulations Hollie! I knew it was only a matter of time before you smashed that half PR. Really loved reading this recap and love the picture of you working your ass off at the end. You’ve got huge potential for what’s ahead! 🙂

  25. First of all, congratulations on an awesome race an a PR!!!

    As always, fabulous recap, you are seriously the only person who writes recaps I find interesting even through I could read about running all day. I agree with you on the 8am start time. Wake up, run and then enjoy the festivities – or crash 🙂

    What was your jam at the race start? Haha! You sound like a way more fun person to race with than those silly people who take themselves so seriously

  26. YOU KILLED IT–YOU’RE A ROCKSTAR! I’m so happy everything came together on race day! You definitely earned it! During races, I definitely find the next gear much quicker when I’m riding or running alongside others; it helps keep me mentally strong.

  27. Congrats again on the the PR, you kick ass! I really dislike wind when I’m running, the only downside to running near the beach.
    My favorite temp to race is 60°!

  28. Awesome race! Glad the wind wasn’t a huge hassle! Good luck with your others. I’ll be running the NJ half as well!

  29. awesome job on that 1/2 PR! I had to laugh when you mentioned it on twitter because my 1/2 last weekend had a faster overall pace than my 5 mile race a few weeks ago as well. too funny!

    i think my favorite race temps are between 40-50°… i also don’t mind race starts in the 30’s as long as it warms up!

    as far as running in packs go… anytime I have found myself in one, i try to do what i can to run alone…

    again, great job! happy for you! 🙂 🙂

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