April Fools Half Marathon (1:26.17)
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?
Have you been to Atlantic City?