This past summer I really , really wanted to start building up a good base again . The idea of the 3 x 13 Trailfest series scared me . The problem was that I really had no idea how to train for the back to back days plus add in the fact that my body was still being a jerk on some days .
I managed to be super consistent with some form of exercise . Biking became my go to if I thought I ' d do more harm than good by running . And some of my results this summer were excellent -- PR on my summer 5k trail series .
I really wanted to see if all of my running in the summer heat and humidity had paid off . Mind you I did virtually NO speed or interval training other than my 5k series and the 5 mile race back at the beginning of August .
I ended up signing up for the Atlantic City Half Marathon against my better judgement . It ' s my local race but every time I ' ve ever raced it in the past a major storm with 20 - 40 mph winds blows in .
By the time the race date had rolled around my training from mid August to mid October had been sub par and super light on mileage . One week I ran S - I - X miles . Ugh .
And then the ideal race weather that had been forecasted changed to forecast a storm blowing in on race day . Double ugh !
But I ' m smarter than I used to be . I knew I had just managed to run 39 miles in 3 days and I ' m fairly good at racing a half marathon . And weather can ’ t be changed .
What ' s the worst that could happen ? I have to walk it in ? BFD . I get to do this .
Sunday morning rolled around and the weather was still good . The weather app showed rain starting at 10 : 00 ( 2 hours after the start ). Perfect .
I stretched and rolled . Drank my coffee and had some gluten free oatmeal with peanut butter .
Drove the 30 minutes to the start and arrived by 7 : 15 . Found some meter parking 1 block from the start . Score !
Used the bathroom at Bally ' s Casino with success . Wahoo ! LOL
Found a hallway by the front doors to do some more stretching . Finally at 7 : 45 I went out onto the boardwalk to line up . The starting corrals were in front of the next casino so we had to fight through the spectators to enter from the rear and then I had to weave up to get to where I wanted to start . Hmmmm .... good question ... where did I want to start ??
My secret goal was that I wanted sub 1 : 54 . A sub 1 : 54 would give me a qualifying time for NYCM . My qualifying time used to be a 1 : 49 which I was within 50 seconds of getting before my injury , but time marches on and I will have a new and improved AG for 2020 .
I made it up to the 3 : 55 pacer -- an 8 : 58 . I needed an 8 : 42 pace . I figured it would be a good place to start given my lack of speedwork .
The gun went off and we started down the boardwalk . Immediately someone caught their foot and went down . Running the boardwalk is akin to running on the trails . The boards are warped and not even , some were super soft and felt almost rotted and then there are the dreaded popped nails . Thankfully the dude tucked and rolled and got back up .
There was no easing into pace . The pacer immediately dropped into the 8s . I did my best to keep up but I was working and this was within the first 1 / 2 mile . I put my best poker face on and reminded myself that I ' d warm up and things would get easier . We made a left and headed down onto the roads .
Speaking of warming up I was warm .... already . I had decided to wear shorts , my green heavier tank and a thin windbreaker . I hate being cold , but I also know I get hot fast . In the pocket of my jacket I had 3 gels and in the back pocket I had my car key . Before we even hit the first mile I was unzipping the jacket and tying it around my waist . I know better . Ugh ! Mile 1 - 8 : 36
By mile 2 I knew the pacer was going WAY too fast . Her watch chimed and she yelled out the pace is to fast ! I look down at my watch and see 8 : 15 . LOL
The pace group slowed , but I figured at this point I ' ve pretty much shoved all of my chips in to the pot and it was too late to change my bet . Mile 2 for me chimed in at 8 : 28 .
The race runs up onto an elevated highway before going down into a tunnel . My GPS signal was lost down in here and from that point on I ' d hit the mile markers before my Garmin chimed .
We ran all along the north end of the island , behind casinos and around some townhomes . Cheering is minimal . Flop , flop , flop went those damn gels against my legs . I finally grabbed the pocket and shoved it into the front of my shorts . Miles 3 - 5 were 8 : 31 , 8 : 26 , and 8 : 14 .
At some points you ' d feel absolutely no wind to the point that your sunglasses fogged . Being as I run around here all the time I knew that meant as soon as we turned the wind was going to be full on in our faces . At around mile 6 I was running close to this little boy . He was 9 years old and crushing it . Solo , no parent .
Flop , flop , flop went the car key against the back of my leg . I shoved that into the back of my shorts . So I want to make sure you get the picture . Green shirt , yellow jacket tied around my waist with a pocket full of Gu shoved down the front of my shorts and another yellow pocket with car key shoved down the back of my shorts . I ' m sure I ' ll be getting a call from RW to model soon . Ha !
I took a Gu at mile 6 and then walked through a water station to get a bit of fluid . I was definitely riding a line of how much longer I could keep up this pace . 8 : 39
At mile 7 we headed back towards the boardwalk . I mentally was talking to myself -- " when you get to the boardwalk you know all you have to do is a bit past the finish line and then run to the turnaround to head for the finish ." Miles 7 & 8 -- 8 : 43 , 8 : 33 .
The Gu kicked in and I did feel a little better , At mile 9 we cruised past the finish line so I knew I had approximately 2 miles to run before I could turn around . So close , yet so far away !
You can do this !
No , I can ' t .
Yes , .... oh look there ' s my bike friend !!
My cycling friend always escorts one of the lead runners . Today he was leading this beautiful looking strong woman into the finish line ! I yelled out to him but I don ' t think he heard me . Mile 9 - 8 : 31
I grabbed some water , gatorade and / or a gel from the aid station . I took I few bites of gel and sipped some water and willed myself to keep going . Mile 10 & 11 -- 8 : 37 , 8 : 42
Finally the turnaround was just ahead . Thank the Lord ! A guy behind me kept yelling , " Water ! Where ' s the water ?" I thought he was kidding because we had passed an aid station not too long ago . Apparently he wasn ' t . I think he had a full breakdown on those poor volunteers . I ' m hoping he was running the half and not the full because if he was running the full he was in bad shape for 14 more miles . It was hot ( ish ) and humid ( ish ) so maybe that ' s why he was struggling ?
As soon as I hit the turn around I was playing mental math -- if you run 10 minute miles that will give you a finish time of xx .... was the NYCM qualifying time a 1 : 54 or 1 : 55 ?? I just couldn ' t think .
My right quad was seizing up and we were now running into the wind . I was leap frogging a couple who were running and then walking . I did manage to pass them for good at some point .
Mile 12 -- “ This is stupid . I hate racing . I ' m never running another full because a half is so freaking hard !” 9 : 00
Just keep running and don ' t think . There ' s Bally ' s . You can stop when you get there . The 9 year old came flying by me into the finish . " Go , little dude !" Mile 13 : 9 : 06
Oh my gosh the finish line !! Then I heard someone yell , " Go , Gwen !" I tried to figure out who it was but all I knew was it was a tall , thin man in a Boston jacket . My oxygen deprived head would not let me figure out who it was . According to Garmin my last . 1 was at a 7 : 33 pace .
I couldn ' t believe it -- 1 : 52 : 46 . I got it !
I staggered over to massage guy and had him massage my poor right quad . and then I grabbed all sorts of food . I came across tablets where you can check your time . Punched in my number and let out an audible gasp when I saw I came in 2nd out of 99 in my AG .
Oh my gosh ! Sometimes you just have to roll the dice and give it a go .
Yep , awards were in the pouring rain . Didn ' t care one little bit !
( As for the guy who cheered for me at the finish it was the guy who leads the track workouts I have attended . Lol )