Monday, October 22, 2012

Atlantic City half race recap: Running with love on a beautiful day

Yesterday I completed half marathon #10! 

And this one was special because this was my husband Marty's second half (his first can be read about in his words here).

We headed down to Atlantic City on Saturday afternoon after Marty's sister arrived to watch our son Ben overnight for us. 

Side note - going to AC without gambling and partying is like a kid going to Disney and not going on any rides but I sucked it up and put blinders on. I was there to run.

Heading down I was in a cranky mood. I was anxious about this half. The doubt moved firmly into my brain and took me hostage. I haven't really had a great experience for the last few halfs and was beginning to wonder if this distance was for me worry. I tried to swat it away.

We checked into our hotel and headed to the Expo. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by the race director of the New Jersey Shore marathon. I told him how that was my very favorite race (and the first I ever did, so his race is very special to me) and he was soooo nice. We chatted for a while and he wound up giving me a free tech hat (I love!) and even sent me an email today saying how nice it was to meet us. 

We kicked around the expo and I was disappointed to find that most had packed up already (we got there on the late side) and no one left was selling what I needed. Was going to try salt pills because of the cramping I'd been experiencing.

Oh well.

We then wandered around trying to find something kind of safe to eat (you know me with all the tummy troubles - finding pre-race food is always a joy.) This was taking time and my shoes were beginning to give me a blister!  And this was not helping my cranky mood. We finally found the perfect spot to eat and happiness ensued. (I never learn to plan ahead -- my bad).

We ate went back to the room and was in bed by 8:30 PM  - settled in with a nice episode of Dateline and a giant bottle of water.  Living it up in AC woo hoo.

The next morning I woke up with a stomach ache of course. And was cursing mad about it. Always something. We headed from our hotel and walked about 4 blocks before I realized that I forgot my coconut water (which I drink in lieu of sports drink) We had to sprint back to get it. UGH. I was fighting a bad mood and anxiety and this stuff wasn't helping.

And then we lined up to run. The weather was perfect, the crowd electric and you know what? I was ready.  

I started to run with Marty by my side. I was to pace us. Marty likes to shoot out of the gate and it's my job to keep him under control. So I did that. 

As I started to run on this beautiful day, my bad mood started to melt away. 

And today I wasn't just running with Marty, I was running with someone else too. Today I made a conscience decision to run with Heather. Heather Boyum was a Rochester Moms In Motion member who cruelly lost her life at the hands of drunk drivers. I think of Heather often. 

I put the pink Moms In Motion bracelet on my wrist in her memory, I wanted her there. 

And she was there, mile by mile. Whenever, for one minute I had a moment of my thoughts wanting to turn negative, I had to only glance down at Heather. Heather would 'tell me' how lucky I was to be running today, the weather perfect - the sky blue, crisp and clear -- and running next to my husband and best friend.  If I feared a cramp, Heather would tell me "so what? Shake it out. You'll make it, looking good.  Get us to the finish line!" If I had a tummy ache she'd say, "So what? Poop, puke, pee whatever… you wouldn't be the first runner to have such issues, now enjoy your day! -- you GET to do this, you don't have to do this… you know how many people would want to trade places with you right now?" 

Somehow, Heather just kept reminding me over and over again to appreciate this race, this day and the joy in it all. And I did. That bracelet and thoughts of Heather (whom I never met by the way) just kept pulling me through. 

Heather was a much better running buddy than hubby by the way. He refused to take off his head phones because he needs music and no chatting. Hmmph.

I felt really good and by the last two miles was enthusiastically happy like I have never been during a race. Fittingly, during mile 12 "Beautiful Day" by U2 came on my iPod and Marty said I was loudly singing along (OOPS I thought I was just mouthing the words…!) I mean it really was. The ocean lapping the shore, the sounds and sights of the boardwalk (finish line was on the boardwalk) and all of my luckiness to be running that day. I finished super strong and smiling.  

I've got a renewed love for this distance and my fear has melted. 

So thank you Heather. I know you're an angel and you got me to the finish line and I dedicate that glorious run to you. Hope we can do it again sometime.

Marty, Heather and I did the race in 2:38 - a 12:01 pace or something? But it was perfectly fine. We stopped to pee and I had to loosen my laces so we were probably 11:55 or something. We knocked some time off our previous race time (2:51 at The Jersey Shore.)

A few things to note -

In preparation to this race I hydrated heavily for three days leading up to the race and also upped carbohydrates a little more and potassium/sodium heavy foods. (all with hopes of fighting those dreaded cramps!) 

I also took salt packets and did 2 little ones and 3 gels -- overkill? Maybe but I didn't get any cramps so I don't care. I also carried coconut water with me and drank that during the last 5 miles… the first half I drank water at the stations.

I also ran significantly slower --maintaining mostly 11:30 - 12:15 min miles and then kicked it up at the end. I was pacing Marty so I still have to experiment with what my happy avg. pace might be.  Probably as of right now 11:15 to 11:30, if I'm being honest but who knows? I have plans on committing to a real strength training program (as my MIM running coach, Dana keeps trying to prescribe us…!)  and perhaps training a little more for the next season.

Hope you had a 'beautiful day' too!



Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

What a beautiful post. It's so sad to have someone to dedicate your run to, especially in the manner in which MIM lost heather, but I'm sure her family would love that her memory lives on in all of you Moms and that she was the good little angel on your shoulder shooing away that dame devil!! Can't wait to run with you again!

nikki said...

congrats on a wonderful race, jen the runner!! xoxoxox

Chris said...

Great job! I ran AC too and I thought the weather was good. I kinda liked the medal. :-) But, then again that's kinda why I run these things. LOL!

Katie Foster said...

Great job!! I'm so glad you had a good experience and finished strong--it's hard to want to run again after BAD races.

Colleen said...

Great post, it brought tears to my eyes! Congratulations on another half marathon- and with a cool medal!

Anonymous said...

Nice recap - you will treasure this posting many years from now - take it from someone who has been racing for 39 years. I wish I had written like this in my earlier years of running. I do have 20 years of running journals.
I also really enjoyed the race on Sunday. I stayed at the Tropicana - which allowed my wife & son very easy access to the race course. When people start to figure out how spectator friendly this race is, it could really take off!
My only recommendation to the race director - bigger mile marker signs.

Phil said...

great day and good race. from half marathoner Bib No. 1174

TheMomOfTwins (Zainab) said...


TheMomOfTwins (Zainab) said...


Anonymous said...

What a great recap! UI love that you brought Heather with you. I meet so many people online in this huge running community and I feel like I know them more than some people I know in real life.

I wish I ran with you..perfect pace for me and I would chat your ear off the whole way and sing U2 just as loud :) Sounds like a perfect race to me <3

Unknown said...

Congrats! Good job. Such kind of activity is really great. Aside from many attractions in Atlantic city, NJ, such kind of race is also a must-see.