One of my tried and true, go-to race series that I return to repeatedly is the Atlantic City Marathon Series. Why? Well, it really boils down to these key points:
1. It’s in my state! New Jersey races for the win!
2. The value is phenomenal. If you sign up early with a finisher’s code, a 10k or half marathon can cost less than other single pricey 5k events.
3. Overall, it’s a really great smaller race series and I love supporting it.
Last year’s 10k was a bit on the soggy side, so I was very happy to see the weather forecast for this year’s race was sunny and clear skies. Especially considering that I’d been sick with a pretty horrible cold throughout the week.
Since I was still recovering, I decided that rather than doing Neptune’s Challenge (which was the 10k and half that I originally signed up for) I was only going to do the 10k. Spoiler alert: I made the right call!
In October, you never know what you’re going to get in terms of the weather, but we lucked out! And it’s a good thing because I had my cheer crew with me.
Usually I’m flying solo or with friends for races, but this time there was the added bonus of my mom and my youngest son who not only joined me for the expo but also the morning of the race.
Since I live within driving distance, we drove the hour back and forth on both Friday night (for the expo) and Saturday morning. Sadly, there was no day of race pick up – that would have shaved some travel time for us, as well as parking costs (although we got $5 vouchers at the expo). We made the best of our visits by getting treats at the candy shop on the boardwalk and wandering around.
Little was very excited that he was somewhere that his big brother had never been before. TWICE. It’s all about the competition when you’re five.
However, when you’re 37, it’s all about finishing the race and not hacking your lungs out on the boardwalk. Or, well, at least it was for me during this race. Because, let me tell you, this was not a fun race for me.
The race environment was awesome, as always. Running the boards always feels good because it has that extra give; I enjoyed the running aspect.
This particular race is an out and back – the first mile is on the populated “store area” of the boardwalk, then you run along a residential area. There is a 5k turn around and further down the 10k turn around.
The problem was that my lungs felt like they could never get quite enough air and when they finally did, I was coughing. I ran 2:1 intervals throughout and while I wasn’t feeling wonderful, I did appreciate the view.
By the last mile I was so ready to be done, which is a shame, because that’s usually my favorite part of this race. This time? Not so much. The last mile definitely felt like it had doubled in length but finally, I saw the finish line!
I crossed the finish with a smile on my face, because, YAY! I WAS DONE! They said everyone’s name as we crossed the line, which I thought was a really nice touch and with a field of 950 participants, very doable.
I was immediately handed a medal and a bottle of water. I made my way over to the barrier where my mom and Little were cheering and Little immediately homed in on the water. “Oh, Momma, I’m SO thirsty.” Yes, he took my bottle of water.
Thankfully, in the finisher’s village I was able to snag a plethora of treats including Gatorade, Rita’s Water Ice, a banana, pretzels, bagel, and PowerBar. This was a welcome change from the end of the April Fool’s Half where the back of the pack missed out on most of the snacks. It’s always great when you know that race directors hear you!
After handing off my beer ticket, I met up with my family once more.
Was it my best race ever? No, it was not. But not for lack of effort on the AC Marathon Series’ part. Some races will just be better than others, due to circumstances beyond control. And hey, that’s okay. My greatest takeaway from this one is that I have the best cheering squad ever! Even if one of them takes all of my things. At least he let me wear the medal.
What fall race do you have coming up next? I’ll be at the Biggest Loser Run Walk at Six Flags Great Adventure for their 10k and kids race. Ever run a race while under the weather?