Last year I ran the inaugural Atlantic City April Fool’s half marathon to ring in my 35th year. This year’s race wasn’t on my birthday (since April 1st was on a Monday) but when my friends started floating the idea of running, I jumped on board. After all, I almost view this race as “mine” since it’s an homage to my birthday and one that I’ll return to year after year.
Packet pick-up was quick and easy and laid-back. In fact, this entire race is very laid-back with the added bonus of being extremely well-organized, two things that you don’t often see paired together when it comes to racing. There is no expo; the packet pick-up took place in the host resort, which was Revel this year.
Revel is AC’s brand new resort and casino and is absolutely gorgeous, albeit a bit confusing to navigate. Thankfully they have staff everywhere to point you in the right direction so you don’t wander aimlessly for too long.
However, AC is still AC and most people there are in “party” mode, not “sleeping and running a race” mode. Which means the clientele of the resort included a drunk dude wandering the halls at 4am, knocking on doors and shouting for “Blair” on Friday night (hope you found her eventually, man) and the party people who decided to stay in and celebrate someone’s 30th birthday with shots and singing at the top at their lungs rather than paying $12 for drinks… until 3:30 in the morning.
Next year? I’m sleeping at home and driving the hour. Hold me to this, please. Early wake up is better than no waking up because I never actually slept.
Going into a half marathon on a small amount of sleep isn’t the best way to do things but alas, that’s how it played out. My suggestion to an AC hotel hosting runners for an event would be to put them all in the same area.
We fueled with wheat bagel flats and almond butter/peanut butter, dressed, and joined the other runners (and partiers who apparently never went to sleep the night before) in the front vestibule.
Approximately 2,000 runners participated in the half marathon, with the 7k/11k races being held on Saturday morning. This was a change from the 2012 races, as all races were all held on the same day. Not going to lie, we were a bit bummed about the change but the race directors were very good at compensating the runners who were affected by the change. Jody ran the 7k on Saturday morning, while Moe, Dorothy and myself were ready to take on 13.1 miles.
We headed outside into the chilly morning air around 7:45, with the race beginning at 8am. At the start we were able to find our friends Rob, Brandi, and Sean – all of whom were running as well!
Starting promptly, we were off, down the boards. After a quarter mile, I realized that in the pre-race excitement I’d forgotten to start my Garmin so I’d be flying solo on that level – I was upset for about a hot second but realized that I’d just have to let it go. Sidenote: I got a Garmin and Road ID tan on my arms during this race. Time to break out the sunscreen!
It began to warm as we made our way down the boards and the smell of the ocean air was invigorating. Moe and I fell into a nice comfortable pace, hanging out side by side and occasionally knocking into each other while dancing to our own iPods.
Around mile 4 my feet started giving me issues with my toes curling a bit, which didn’t feel so fantastic so I walked a couple of seconds. That didn’t help so I started running again. This is also about the time that we saw the winner of the race headed back to the finish. Always impressive!
And then, there are people like this. These dudes ran like this for the entire race and ran the race in two hours. More power to you, horse and horse rider! (Horse dude kept his head on the entire time. Crazy!)
See that little turn there – right before mile 5? That’s when we took the streets. And that’s when I knew I’d be hurting a bit. WHERE IS MY BOARDWALK? Couldn’t we have made it longer? However, I knew Lucy was ahead and I was very much looking forward to seeing the elephant.
“The elephant???” You might ask. Oh yes, the elephant.
What, this isn’t normally what you see when you race? (Check out other random things seen on runs at OliveToRun’s How Bizarre Photos!)
Eventually we hit the 7 mile mark which meant it was time to turn around and hit the reverse button! I swung around the flag (not literally) and off we went, back where we came from. The street seemed to expand and getting back to the boards took way longer than I anticipated. Finally Moe pulled to the side where she could look ahead and see the cones turn – we were nearly back on the boardwalk. Huzzah!
Since I didn’t have my Garmin, I lost mile 9. For all of mile 9, I thought I was in mile 10… Until I saw the flag marker that said 10 and nearly cried because I so desperately wanted it to say 11. Alas, it did not.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
And right around then was when I felt the blister forming and I was just ready to be done. 3.1 miles to go – a 5k! Then I looked up and saw this…
And remembered how blessed I was to be in that moment.
The water stations were phenomenal and it definitely makes up for the lack of crowd support because they are like a cheer station unto themselves. The volunteers are incredible with this race, always with a smile and making you laughing by fighting over whose water or Gatorade you’d take.
There are also a couple of bands and DJs along the route as well, so when I saw those I’d take my yurbuds out to jam with them for a couple of seconds.
The last two miles I was speed walking more than running and a one point Moe turned around to see where I was. I waved her on and told her, “keep moving THAT way” and off she went. I could see her pink hat bopping along ahead and that gave me the motivation I needed to stay strong and keep moving toward the finish line.
I passed where the finish line was the previous year and was sad that it wasn’t actually there again this year because that would mean I’d be done. At that point, there was a little over a mile left. The boardwalk started having more people milling around, which is difficult because at that point instead of bobbing and weaving around other runners, you’re moving around people who don’t have a clue that a race is going on. I just kept moving forward, alternating between a run/walk and pushing as much as possible.
And just like that, I saw the finish line in the distance. I heard cheers of people as I drew closer and I pushed myself to sprint those last few minutes, thanks to some very sweet ladies from Black Girls Run giving me some special cheers.
I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face, having attained a personal record! I’m not a fast runner and I may never BE a fast runner, but I bested myself on Sunday… and that felt damn good (even if my feet didn’t and don’t)!
I’m already looking to sign up for next year’s April Fool’s half.
Is there a race that you return to time and time again? What is it that keeps you coming back?