Other working title: Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours!
If you’ve hung around these parts for awhile, you have probably noticed that there are a few races series that I return to, time and time again. The Atlantic City Marathon Races Series is one of THOSE races. I usually sign up as soon as registration is open and wait with bated breath for race day to arrive.
So why? Why do I love the AC Marathon Race Series like I do?
My running partner, Chrissy and I have been training there weekly. We know the ins and outs of the boardwalk. We say hello to the same AC ambassadors each week. We know where the boardwalk has the very slightest bit of incline (going into Ventor City, if you’re wondering) and we know landmarks.
When you run a race course over and over again during training runs, it’s comfortable during race day. (Even if it’s raining and windy!)
For a $15 fee, the race series has morning of packet pick-up, which we both opted for. The drive to Atlantic City is less than an hour for both of us and staying at home is a comfort we both appreciate. I am so grateful that the race director added this option – it cuts down on travel time and expenses.
The packet pickup was open from 7am-8am and the race called for a 9am start time. As we are overachievers, we arrived at 6:53am, had our packets in hand by 7am and had about 2 hours to mill around. We used the time to make ourselves comfy and snapped usies, while chatting with staff and fellow runners.
Another thing that’s great about running in AC is that while the conditions might not have been what most would consider ideal, you can wait in the hotel lobbies/casinos until right before the event. After spending over an hour in my Broad Street corral in the pouring rain, this was a significant upgrade. (Have I done something to piss off Mother Nature? Our track record lately isn’t too fantastic!)
Chrissy and I decided we would run our own races for this event. My goal was to hit 1 hour and 10 minutes; I was fairly confident at this point in my training that I could do it.
My previous PR was 1 hour and 11 minutes, which was back in 2013 during the Run the Bridge 10k. It’s been haunting me ever since because I haven’t been able to break it for a few years.
About 10 minutes before the start of the race, we reluctantly went outside. We wanted to get our bodies used to the colder temperature before we started running. We bounced on our toes while singing along with The Go-Gos song that the DJ was playing and tried to think happy warm thoughts.
The rain pelted us in the face as we sang the Star Spangled Banner and we all exchanged bemused looks with each other as the song came to an end. Were we all really this crazy to go running in the cold rain? Apparently yes, yes we were.
I don’t have any pictures from the course because my phone was safely tucked away in my belt. I held a Gu in my hand to keep it warm and also so I didn’t have to fiddle with my belt mid-race.
I ran the first mile straight and then fell into my 2:1 intervals. My watch was about .08th of a mile off so when I hit their mile marker, I was only at .92 on my watch. Not quite sure how that happened but it worked for my mental game.
I was alone with my thoughts for a majority of the race so I thought about past races and experiences in Atlantic City, which made me smile. Occasionally I chatted with people I was running near and for awhile I hung out with a group of ladies that were listening to Justin Timberlake. Score!
Our pants were a big hit! $10 on Amazon, holla! When I got to mile 5 I saw that I was under an hour by a couple of minutes and I was feeling great so I decided it was time to push the pace.
And just like that, I had an angel on a bicycle appear to help me with the push. My own personal escort – who knew middle/back of the pack runners got those? He asked me my name, told me he liked my pants (that’s what they all say!), and rode next to me telling me that I was awesome and that I was nearly at the finish. Thanks for the confidence boost, Terrance!
Terrance then pedaled ahead so that he could cheer for me right near the finish line, too. What a guy! This is yet another reason why I love Atlantic City! Everyone, from volunteers, to other race participants, to dudes on bikes, is so encouraging. It’s a small race and everyone feels like a friend.
During mile 6 I jumped back into running straight, sans intervals. My legs felt strong and my mind knew I was capable. That was my fastest mile at 11:15!
Crossing the finish line felt like coming home. I saw the clock and I knew that I was going to hit my 1:10!
Chrissy rolled in minutes later and I was able to catch her crossing the finish line of her first 10k race! Score!
We grabbed our bags from gear check and went to check out the beer garden. You read that right: the BEER GARDEN. In the past there’s always been a cup of beer at the finish of the Atlantic City races. This time? We each got a flight!
We were able to enjoy the band and hear the race winners announced before we decided that it was just too cold to hang outside any longer. We grabbed lunch at Harry’s Oyster Bar and had the best burgers ever! Chrissy and I spend a lot of our training runs talking about food (and burgers in particular) and we both agreed these hit the spot!
So let’s recap, shall we? PR CITY, BABY! Flat course, great fellow runners, fantastic volunteers, random bike escort (can’t promise that to everyone but hey, you never know) and a beer flight. Here I am, baby, signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours!
Next up for me is another 10k – Run the Bridge. Think I can hit another PR? It’s a more difficult course, elevation wise, but I’ll be able to take advantage of the downhills on the bridge. And then the Philly half – another tried and true for me but with a different course this year! Will it live up to my expectations?