Atlantic City Half Marathon (1:36.27)
This was by far my slowest half marathon in the last 4 years. Even slower than the half I ran this summer at 7000 feet altitude. My goal was to log 20 (healthy) miles for the day before the New York City Marathon. That much I did. A separate post for another day is how I do not love marathon training and how much it’s affected my speed. Anyway, I’m happy to finish a healthy race.
The Atlantic City Marathon is one of the oldest continuing marathons in the country. Plus it’s flat and fast and a USATF certified Boston Qualifier. I have many friends that use Atlantic City as their Boston Qualifier. The Atlantic City race series has a 10k and 5k on Saturday, plus a half marathon and full marathon on Sunday. All four of the races start and finish on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. The Atlantic City Marathon runs through Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate, with the finish line back through Atlantic City. No matter what race you’re running race weekend in Atlantic City, the finisher medals and post-race party are both awesome. Usually it’s good time of year in October to run fast too. As you can see I enjoy the Atlantic City race series and they aren’t paying me to say that.
The day before the Atlantic City Half Marathon, I had one of the best runs I’ve had in a long time. I felt good, felt like I could go forever, and truthfully it made me excited to run the Atlantic City Half Marathon the next day. I thought it might be the breakthrough performance I wanted, but it wasn’t. My “A” goal was to finish healthy. My hamstring didn’t bother me (at all) and I felt completely injury-free. That was motivating.
Anyway, I got to the race around 7 and the race started promptly at 8 am. I appreciate how much parking is in Atlantic City, plus all of the bathrooms. Atlantic City is always a fun mix of people who have been in the casino overnight, runners, and random tourists oblivious to what is about to happen. I genuinely think it’s the best New Jersey full and half marathon (Yes, I paid for my bib).
During the first mile of the Atlantic City Half Marathon, there was wind, but it was more of a crosswind. I wasn’t sure what to expect with my legs. I turned my watch on but wasn’t worried about it. Both the Atlantic City Marathon and the Atlantic City Half Marathon start together so you have plenty of people to run with. I somehow always get stuck near the same guy who doesn’t use headphones and blasts his music. I hit the first mile of the Atlantic City Half Marathon in 7 minutes exactly.
The next mile of the Atlantic City Half Marathon went over an overpass and through a tunnel. While the Atlantic City Half Marathon is generally flat, there are a few small inclines overpasses. There was a slight crosswind and I ran a 6:55. I was excited, would I run well?
The next few miles of the Atlantic City Half Marathon went by without much note. My stomach was churning and while it didn’t feel awful, it just felt off. I rarely have stomach issues and it wasn’t anything to slow me down, but it didn’t feel good.
Mile 4 of the Atlantic City Half Marathon went around the water and we got a nice crosswind. I remember the Atlantic City Half Marathon last year being very lonely around this spot, but luckily this year I had people to run with. I hit mile 4 of the Atlantic City Half Marathon in 7:09 and with a tailwind mile 5 in 6:57.
When thinking about the race logistics, I realized the last 2 miles of the Atlantic City Half Marathon were going to be in a headwind. Gee great. I knew mile 9 and 10 would have a fairly nice tailwind, but once we got to the turnaround, we were going into the headwind. I tried to ignore it.
I hit the halfway of the Atlantic City Half Marathon in about 42:30 and thought it was doable to run a 1:35.
We entered the Atlantic City boardwalk just before mile 8. One thing that always gets to me mentally is you run directly by the finish of the Atlantic City Half Marathon (and AC Marathon) around mile 9.5. It’s tough to know you still have quite a bit further to go.
The next two miles of the Atlantic City Half Marathon went with the wind. I was happy to get a nice tailwind, but my body was overheated. I didn’t think it would be that hot, but because the skies were getting ready to burst with rain at any time, it was slightly humid too. Since there was no headwind, my body was cooking.
Somewhere around mile 9 of the Atlantic City Half Marathon, the 7:15 pace group of the Atlantic City Half Marathon and Marathon passed me. I do believe they were close to a minute ahead of pace, but I didn’t bother asking or questioning.
I ran a 7:23 for both miles 10 and 11 of the Atlantic City Half Marathon. I crossed the 10-mile point in exactly 1:13, which is 2 minutes faster than I ran the Cow Run 10 miler 2 weeks ago. I saw my good friend Montana at the turnaround. It was nice to see a familiar face at the Atlantic City Half Marathon.
We turned around and the headwind blasted us in the face. I knew it was going to be a very very long few miles. I was relatively disconnected from time and pace at this point. My goal was to run 20 miles of pain-free. If I could do that, I knew I could healthily run the New York City Marathon.
I just put my head down and went. Even though I was running about 7:40 pace into the headwind, I passed a couple of people. There wasn’t much of note. I saw a few friends running in the opposite direction, which motivated me.
Finally, I crossed the Atlantic City Half Marathon finish at 1:36.27. Was I thrilled with the time? No, but am I thrilled to be injury-free? Yes.
I “cooled down” afterward to bring my mileage up to 20. I wanted no part of running more miles, but I wanted to get at least a 20 miler in before New York. It was more mental than anything else, not because I think I can’t finish the marathon, but because I wanted to see how my hamstring would respond. It was fine and a few days later, I’m fine. It’s motivating to be healthy.
I always appreciate the Atlantic City Half Marathon races and I always have fun there. It’s hard for me to remember what running a 1:30 half marathon feels like, let alone my PR of 1:22 but I’m looking forward to getting back to shorter stuff next year.
Questions for you:
Have you ever run the Atlantic City Half Marathon?
What’s the windiest race you’ve run?