The short version – I thought I put in enough training , but “ the wall ” hit me good , and the marathon humbled me … as it should ! Not super disappointed because it was my best effort for the day , and I have a lot more respect for the distance again . BQs are not easy and that ' s why they are magical ! I will be trying again !
The Atlantic City marathon is my 17 th marathon , but only the 3 rd that I have raced , and the first that I have raced in 10 years . I followed a Garmin - provided training plan pretty - well but missed the longest runs just because I didn ’ t want to give up family time for 3 hour runs . My longest training run was 16 miles and I thought I could push the final 10 miles . Spoiler alert . I was wrong . Oops .
A week out , the weather looked perfect - 50 - 65 degrees , partly cloudy with light winds . Then Nestor formed in the Gulf . I studied the hourly forecast obsessively since Thursday . The storm was supposed to get to AC around 10am , and ramp - up the wind and rain between 11 and 12 with winds out of the ENE ( a direct headwind for the final 5 miles with 4 of those miles on the exposed boardwalk ). Not a good forecast for someone aiming for a 3 : 20 - 3 : 30 with an 8am start time , and the forecast was pretty much spot - on . Possibly dumbly , but I ’ ll never really know , my race strategy was to try to go slightly faster in the first half to maybe beat the increases in the wind . So , I started at the fast end of my goal time .
There was not much to note at the start . Parking in the garage was easy . I found an out of the way bathroom in the casino that had no line and I got to the start with a nice 15 minutes to spare and easily made my way to the 3 : 20 pacer . ( side note – only 50 % of us starting in that area were NOT wearing the Nike shoes – maybe that ’ s why I missed my goal – Ha !). The weather felt pretty nice , but oddly I didn ’ t feel chilled at all so maybe it was warm and humid . I wore a thin t - shirt , shorts and detached sleeves , which was perfect for what happened .
There was a countdown clock at the start line and the race was off exactly on time ! Nice organization . My plan was to stay with the 3 : 20 pacer and see what happened . He went off on the fast side and our first mile was 7 : 18 , but we settled in around 7 : 35s after that . It was a great group . I was happily chatting away as the first 6 miles just clicked by . I was feeling good - amazing even ! DH and DD were at the 10K split cheering for me , and I waved and smiled as I passed . Life was good ! We got back to the boardwalk at mile 8ish and DH and DD were there again . I separated from the group and ran over for a DD high - five and was still feeling great !
We passed the finish line at mile 9ish , and slight fatigue started to creep in , but nothing too bad . Then something happened between 10 - 11 . I got a slight side - stitch , which has been happening in some training runs too . Then I lost my place in the course . I thought we were coming up on 12 , when it was only 11 – bleh . The wheels started to come off here . ( I rolled my sleeves down hoping that would help – it didn ’ t ) I decided to slow up to hopefully get rid of the side stitch , so dropped from the 7 : 35 miles to 8 : 05 for 12 and 13 , which would still be good for under a 3 : 30 . It started to drizzle . I started to hurt . Where did my awesome feeling go ????
Thankfully , my Mom was cheering on the second half of the course , and she was at 14ish . I was hurting , but as a veteran marathoner , she had the sage advice to keep going you never know how you ’ ll feel in a few miles . She was right I slowed to 8 : 30s ( BQ still possible ) and started to feel better from 15 - 20 . I was trying to mentally convince myself that there was only a 10K left , and that got me through to mile 21 , but then we turned into the wind , and steady rain .
My Mom was awesome at getting all over the course to support me , but it wasn ’ t helping my physical state . My words to her at 21ish were “ everything just hurts .” It did . I tried to focus on body parts that didn ’ t hurt , but that just pointed out how even things like my nose hurt with the wind and rain . Oddly , my muscles were feeling as good as could be expected , but all my joints hurt . The tip of my toes hurt , my feet ached , kneecaps were screaming , hips throbbing , ribs and shoulders were tight , and my nose , even the tip of my nose , had a stinging sensation .
At this point my running slowed to 9 : 30 and that was a struggle . I knew BQ was out of the question . Finishing was going to be hard enough , and I HAD to finish so I could wear the shirt . It is a cool shirt ! Haha !
At 22 I was done . Completely done , and thirsty . I was drinking every water stop , but I was thirsty , which I ’ ve never felt before while running . I focused on running to the next water stop . Then I was going to walk and enjoy Every . Last . Drop . of the Powerade and water ! I did just that ! BUT oh , walking hurt too , and differently . It accentuated the hip pain but helped with the rib pain . Whatever , I had to pick up some form of run , or it would take forever to finish and I was getting cold . ( I put my sleeves back up – Yay sleeves – I do love those things ). So , I shuffled along at an 11 : 00 pace , but would get a disconcerting pain under my ribs and I was also making some horrible grunting noises . Since my time was shot already , I ’ d just walk every time that pain would start and pick up a shuffle when it went away . Miles 22 - 26 were between 10 : 30 and 12 : 45 pace . To be honest , I felt so bad , I didn ’ t even notice how windy and rainy it was until after I finished , so I doubt that impacted my race too much .
To sum up how I felt in those last 4 miles … The 3 : 50 pacer passed me with 100 yards to go , right where DH and DD were cheering and said , “ you can ’ t let me pass you now in front of the kid ,” and I just yelled back , “ sure I can !” and I did . BUT I still finished under 3 : 50 and I was 5 th out of 71 in my age group and 25 th woman overall , which I believe indicates the tough conditions of the day . Today , I am proudly wearing my “ finisher ” shirt as , even though my time wasn ’ t what I hoped , I am proud of my effort and that I put it all out on the course yesterday . Plus , I can say I finished a marathon in the remnants of a tropical storm ! Oh , just as a kicker , today the weather is absolutely gorgeous !
Race day thoughts : “ I ’ m happy I did not qualify for Boston – I ’ m never racing a marathon again .”
Day after race day thoughts : “ This race would count as a good long training run … I wonder what local marathons there are at the end of November ? Maybe I could run Philly better …” Contemplating it at least ! 😊
Lessons learned : Marathons are a special form of hard and you can ’ t underestimate them . Only racing a marathon can show you what racing a marathon is like ( kind of like only childbirth can prepare you for what childbirth is like – and that is the only comparison that can be made between those two things ). I don ’ t think a perfectly flat course worked for me . The only inclines were before mile 5 and I think the complete flatness contributed to the joint pain . There was no variation on what was being impacted with EVERY step . Don ’ t wear shoes that do not fit perfectly – duh – stupid rookie mistake for someone that is not a rookie . Practice fueling – my fueling while running was pretty much non - existent , which probably contributed to that wall - smack .
Not what I hoped for , nor what I expected , but a finished marathon is a good marathon ( since although in some pain today , I believe nothing is injured )!