Atlantic City Half Marathon (1:27.53)

Atlantic City Half Marathon (1:27.53)

In summary, the Atlantic City half marathon was a good race. I had hoped to be faster but the wind was unforgiving and I raced for the conditions. It stinks to not have a faster half before the NYCM, but that’s how it goes. I’m proud of my efforts, and I was able to negative split the race.

My alarm at 5 am came early. As I mentioned, the days leading up where chaotic and I found myself on the go and on my feet for almost 48 hours before (except for sleep). I could have used a few more hours of sleep beforehand, but that is okay.

I got to Atlantic City around 7 am.  I met some of my local friends and running groups.  When I went to drop off my bag at bag drop, I dropped my entire bottle of Gatorade and spilled it all over myself.  I was cold and wet at the start of the race…a great combination.

atlantic city half marathon me running

I got to the corral with about 3 minutes to spare and talked to a few friends.  By the time I knew it, it was time to go.  During the first mile, we hit some severe headwind. I thought to myself…it is going to be a long way to go.  I also quickly realized my legs didn’t feel great but I was going to make the best of the situation no matter what.  I hit the first mile in 6:48 and thought, if I could hold this at least I would be faster than other races.

Before the race I thought it was entirely on the boardwalk. I didn’t realize how much was through the neighborhoods and actual Atlantic City.   All of a sudden we ran over an overpass and down through a tunnel.  I thought for sure my watch would lose GPS signal, but it surprisingly didn’t.  The tunnel was peaceful and still because there was no wind. It was nice.  Directly after, we climbed another overpass, and I hit mile 2 around 6:45.

atlantic city half marathon me running

The next mile went on without much note. I hit the 5k around 21 minutes and felt pleased. Away from the boardwalk, the wind wasn’t as bad.  You could still feel the gusts, but it wasn’t the 50 mph gusts that you felt on the boardwalk.

During mile 4, a man passed me listening to music without headphones.  It was blaring. I wasn’t in the mood to listen to his music, and honestly, it’s just poor form. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t use headphones, and it made me so irrationally angry to listen to it. I don’t like to listen to music while racing which is why I don’t. I don’t want or need to listen to someone else’s. Unfortunately, we ended up running near each other for about 4 miles.

During mile 5 and 6, I focused on getting to the halfway point. We went over a few more overpasses and through a couple neighborhoods.  The view was beautiful. I tried to pass the man with his music, but my legs didn’t have the speed.  The volunteers thought it was “so cool” with his music, but it just made me angrier. Looking back, it was dumb to be that mad but at the time.

I hit the halfway point in 44 minutes.  I reevaluated how I was feeling and thought that baring nothing major, I could probably hold that pace and run an even 1:28.  I also knew the last few miles were on the boards and while it would be the windiest, I could probably get some speed there.

I trucked along, and by the time I knew it was mile 7.  The next two miles went by without much note. I finally dropped the man with his loud music, and I was thankful.  We entered the boardwalk between mile 8 and 9.  Entering the boardwalk made me feel like the race was over, but we had 4 miles.

atlantic city half marathon me running

We passed the start/finish line somewhere between mile 9-10.  It’s always mentally challenging to see where you will be done and know you have a long way to go.  By this point, the race was spread out. Even though the half and full marathon were still together, I was alone on the boards.  Alone on the windy boardwalk is not where you want to be.  Since it was a crosswind, you were like a ping pong ball being pushed on either side of the boardwalk.

I ran a 6:40 mile 10 and just kept moving along. Finally, we rounded the turnaround, and we headed back to the finish line.  I just kept telling myself, two miles to go. Mile 11 always seems to be the most challenging mile of a half marathon for me. I passed one of my good friends.

I hit mile 12 in 6:35 and then just told my body haul butt. At the turnaround, I saw I was about 20 seconds back from the next half marathon women. I didn’t have any plans to catch her, but when I saw I was, it gave me the motivation to run faster.  I had déjà vu of when I ran head-on with a pedestrian in April and told myself to pay attention.  Runners for both the half and full were also going the opposite direction, so I wanted to be mindful of that.

12 miles became 12.5, became 12.75 and all of a sudden I was almost caught up to the women.  I passed her around 13 miles.  I could see the finish line in the clock ticking around 1:27.30 and I knew if I wanted to be under 1:28, it would be close.

atlantic city half marathon me running

IDK what I’m doing with my hands. I don’t remember doing that.

I crossed in 1:27.53 and as 6th women overall. I’m happy with my efforts for the conditions.  Like I mentioned in my training log, I was hoping to be faster, but you can’t control the weather.  It wasn’t hot, but the wind is a different battle and just as challenging battle (in my opinion anyway).  I feel like I fraud every half saying I know if the conditions were better I could be faster, but I’ve raced each time for the day, and that is all you can do.

After the race, I spent just under an hour playing the slots at the casino.  I have a limit of $20, and I spent $20 and won $20, so I broke even for the day. So success all around.

Questions for you:

What is the windiest you’ve run in?

Am I overdramatic that someone listening to music without headphones during a race is rude? 

Bungalow Beach 5 Miler (32:12)

Bungalow Beach 5 Miler (32:12)

Last weekend I ran the Bungalow Beach 5 Miler in Atlantic City.  As I continue to build miles, I’m trying to make it a point to race more whether I feel great or not.  If there is anything I learned from the weekend, it’s how to spell Bungalow (at least I think so).

I didn’t feel great on Saturday.  While I only took a week off, I feel like I’ve distanced myself from the sport since about May.  I’ve been running but training for PRs, no.  I rode out the fitness from the training cycle through both Broad Street and the Newport 10 miler.

I woke up around 5, ate, and arrived to Atlantic City around 7 am.  The race starts in a different area than the April Fools Half. As I walking to pick up my bib, a very intoxicated man asked if I was just getting off from the strip club next door.  What a way to start.

The line to pick up bibs was long, and I had time to warm up about 2 miles.  As I was sprinting towards the start, I realized they were doing the national anthem. I paid my respect and made it to the start with about 30 seconds to spare.

The race went off right at 8 am.  During the first mile, I found myself running with a few men.  I passed one other female around mile 1.  My legs felt stiff and tired, and with 100% humidity, the weather was not ideal. I didn’t feel great or especially terrible and ran a 6:23.

I ran the second mile alone.  There was a cross breeze but nothing crazy. It actually felt good.  We left the boardwalk, and I ran a 6:28.

We turned around mile 2.3 and headed back towards the finish.  I like beach and shore races because usually, you get to see friends and other racers going in the opposite direction.  I saw a lot of local people and high fived a lot of people.

bungalow beach 5 miler atlantic city

Thanks, Meridith for the photo!

Around mile 4, I knew the second place woman was quickly catching me.  I was giving it my all.  We entered the beach, and I was worried I would fall, so I took running on the sand extremely safe.  Even though I was barely above a walk, I would instead not hurt myself versus attempt to sprint to the finish only to roll an ankle.  I could see the finish, but I thought it would never come closer!  I crossed in 32:12 and was able to win.

I am happy to be out there again, and it feels good to be racing. In February I ran a 5 Miler in 30:25 and while I’m not in that shape now I’m enjoying running and able to run.  Usually in June that hasn’t been the case.  I’ll continue looking for races and chipping away.  Right now I didn’t have anything “big” planned out, and I’m just enjoying racing each weekend.

Questions for you;

Have you ever run on sand?

Do you have beach plans this summer?

JJ’s Diner (Pleasantville

JJ’s Diner (Pleasantville

A few weeks ago, after the April Fools half marathon, I stopped at JJ’s diner on the way home.  When I arrived around lunchtime on a Sunday, it was crowded.  In fact, it’s one of the few diners I’ve had to wait for a table.  No big deal!

Atmosphere: B
JJ’s Diner is small but cute. The outside looks like a small trailer.  I like the old yellow sign that says JJ’s too.  It is one room, with several tables, booths, and a full-length bar.  It’s very compact.

JJ's Diner pleasentville nj 

Coffee: B
The coffee was brewed hot, but I could have used more.  It was the local Lacas brand.  I’ve actually been to several diners that have Lacas brew lately.  It was hot and after a cold, wet, rainy race, exactly what I needed.  I just wish I had more.

JJ's Diner pleasentville nj

Food: A
JJ’s Diner has many different options.  The diner itself is only open until 3 pm, so they don’t have big entrees, but they have all sorts of breakfast and lunch specials. I decided to order the chicken and waffles.JJ's Diner pleasentville nj

As I’ve mentioned a few times, since living in Alabama last year, I’ve wanted to find good chicken and waffles.  At JJ’s, the chicken and waffles were one of the best portions I’ve had.  The waffle itself was crisp, but the chicken portion was massive.  It was also topped with a homemade sauce which made for a delicious topping.  In fact, it didn’t need any additional syrup.  So far, it’s the best chicken and waffles I’ve found in the North. 

Service: A
The waitress was friendly and kind. Even being busy, she came to check on us several times.  The food also came out quickly. I think we waited long for a table than the food!

Cost: $
For the chicken and waffle, plus coffee the cost as $11.

Overall Thoughts/Would I Come Back?
I enjoyed JJ’s Diner, and it’s definitely a diner I would stop at again if I went down the shore.

Atmosphere: B
Coffee: B
Food: A
Service: A
Cost:$8-12
Overall: A 

This is Diner Review 183. You can see more diner reviews here.

Questions for you:
Have you had chicken and waffles?
What is your favorite post workout meal?

April Fools Half Marathon (1:26.08)

April Fools Half Marathon (1:26.08)

The April Fools Half race is typically one of my favorite races of the year. I PRed in 2014, won in 2015, and as most people know last year wasn’t my day.  Even though last year wasn’t my day, I enjoyed how well the race was put together and seeing friends.

Moving forward, not running well in 2017 meant I was hoping to run better in 2018. I wanted redemption (for myself).  As the race drew closer, I found myself having similar burn out symptoms as 2017.  A few weeks ago, I took several days off and focused on rest and recovery.  It was what I needed, and when the race drew closer, I felt more ready.

Like many racers this past weekend (People that ran Boston are awesome!), the conditions were not pleasant. It was spitting rain, and extremely windy. For me, I would rather it rain or not rain.  The change in weather made it difficult to prepare for.

Racing in torrential downpours is different than running in a dry 45 degree.  While driving down, I noticed we were going to deal with direct headwind and tailwind.  In 2016, it year it was Gail force winds, but crosswinds.  You never got a direct headwind, just sidewind down the shore.  It wasn’t pleasant, but it was better than racing through a headwind. This year it looked like you would run fast going out, then get your face smacked with the wind coming back.

me april fools half marathon atlantic city running

And that’s exactly what happened.

I was between 5 different outfits depending on if the rain held off but ultimately decided to wear my Goretex jacket and shorts. I was happy I did.  Between my half marathon and Boston, it’s amazing to me, how many people are embarrassed to race in a jacket.  Race smart, and put some clothes on.

We got to the start around 6:45, chatted with friends, then lined up at 8.  By the time I knew it, we were off!  When the race started, I immediately found myself running alone. I remained alone for the entire race. I was within 15 seconds of one male, but for the most part, I ran alone.

The first few miles went by quickly. We had a significant tailwind.  I ran between 6:15-6:17 and hit the first 5k in 19:26. I felt good and better than I have in a while. Of course, the wind helped, but mentally I felt good.

The next few miles left the boardwalk.  I began counting down the miles.  It’s never good when you start counting down the miles at mile 5.

me april fools half marathon atlantic city running

I hit the 10k in a wind-aided 38:13. It was just under PR pace.  I’m not one to take my races out fast, and the pace was faster than my PR at Phoenix.  I didn’t suddenly think, today I would PR because I knew the headwind would be nasty.  I did, however, feel good. ]

At 6.55 miles in, we turned around, and that is pretty much where all of the “race action” happened.

Immediately, into hitting the wind, I thought omg this will be rough.  We were running into an unblocked 35 mph headwind.  Which we did for the remainder of the race.  You could see the waves crashing on the shore and birds basically going backward.  At some points, I would stop dead in my tracks.  I had no one to draft off of, no one to commiserate with, just me and my thoughts (which mostly consisted of 4 letter words).

I knew it was important to run for the conditions and forget about pace. I ran mile 7 in 6:27.  The next two miles were two of the hardest miles I’ve run in my life (behind mile 16 of the New York City Marathon).  The wind was blowing straight in your face.

me april fools half marathon atlantic city running

We were tucked along the shore, and the buildings didn’t provide a lot of protection.  I began passing racers going the opposite direction who were cheering.  I recognized many and tried to cheer, but it was difficult to hear anything over the wind blasting in your face.  I ran mile 8 in 7:15 and mile 9 in 6:58.  Two of my slowest half marathon miles in a long time, but I didn’t care.  I knew what the conditions were.

At mile 9, I told myself okay 4 miles to go.  We entered the unprotected boardwalk.  The shore was right there, and along the coast it gets windy.  I’ve never run in 35 mph headwind for a race, let alone along the waterfront.  Before the race, I had thought maybe a jacket was too much, but at mile 9 I was happy with it.  I had purposely only put 2 pins on my bib in case I wanted to delayer, but I was cold the last 4 miles.

I kept plugging along, and the miles slowly started ticking away.  My legs felt great, but the headwind was still there.  The miles went by without a lot of excitement.

Around mile 12, a woman darted across the boardwalk.  The boardwalk is wooden, and with the rain the boardwalk was slick.  The slickness is what caused me to wear the more cushioned Nike Zoom Fly, versus a racing flat.  Coincidently, I chose the shoe so I wouldn’t slip and fall.

When the cyclist saw the women, he told her to get off the course.  I, not as nicely, said to move. She didn’t, and within a second we collided and were both on the ground.  I fell directly onto my tailbone.  There was nothing more the cyclist or myself could have done to prevent that. It stunk, but it happened.

I layed there, on the ground at mile 12 of the race I desperately wanted to finish strong. The adrenaline kicked in, and before I knew it, I was up again. My adrenaline was pumping, just telling myself I had 7 more minutes of running.  At that point, nothing hurt.  The cyclist asked me if I was okay and I said yes.  All I could think about was finishing the race.

me april fools half marathon atlantic city running

The last mile was tough, to begin with.  It’s a straight line, down the boardwalk.  It was windy, I had just fallen, and wanted the race to be done.  Finally, I saw the finish.

Like 2015, they weren’t able to inflate the blow up this year due to the wind.  Then I saw  I was going to break the tape.

me april fools half marathon atlantic city running

Every emotion came out.  The previous night’s makeup was running from the rain, I was smiling, and I crossed the finish line in 1:26.08.

me april fools half marathon atlantic city running

After the race, I was asked about my back.  I chose not to cool down, because of my tailbone. I talked with friends, including my good friend and local runner Erin.

I did get an X-ray which didn’t find anything broken.  In my personal experience, x-rays have never shown small fractures but if anything, I know it’s not shattered.  I’ve never hurt my tailbone before! That being said, I’m still cautious.  Due to where I hit, I got a few other tests done including a spinal tap to make sure nothing around my brain was bleeding (which it isn’t).

While 1:26.08 is “only” 9 seconds faster than the previous year: the weather was much more difficult (the weather was almost ideal last year), but most importantly, I crossed mentally feeling good.

Questions for you:
Did you race last weekend?  How was it?
Have you ever fallen during a race?

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.april fools half marathon atlantic city me running

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).

april fools half marathon atlantic city me running

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.

april fools half marathon atlantic city me running

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.

april fools half marathon atlantic city me running

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.

april fools half marathon atlantic city me running

Thoughts: 

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.

april fools half marathon atlantic city me running

Post Race with Erin picking up awards

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.

Post Race with good friend Meredith who PRed!

What’s next? 

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? 

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