Way too long ago, I posted my recap of the April Fools 7k. That was first of 2 races last weekend that I ran. The second race was the half marathon. This race was picked to not only add to my half count as number 23 but also to cross New Jersey off the list of my 50 State Quest.
I knew going into race day that this was not going to be my best showing. The goal was going to be to try and hit sub 2:20, but coming back from the bronchitis and with Mother Nature playing games with us, I threw that time out the window and just put to finish as the main goal. Mar & Kristy had planned to make this their goal race, but due to injuries (Kristy) and weather (Mar) also realized that their goals might also not be hit.
So as I mentioned in my 7k recap, I woke up Saturday morning with a terrible headache. Well, Saturday evening things just got worse. For one, Mother Nature came into town in a very angry mood. I actually woke up a few times due to the sound of the winds and thunder and lightning. However, what really was concerning was was when I woke up around 3am to the room spinning and I had no idea if I was going to throw up or pass out. It was bad and I was miserable. From that point, I didn’t get much more sleep. I kept dozing but would wake up pretty dizzy and nauseous. When the alarms finally went off, I tried to get up and I just wanted to curl up on the bed. At one point, I actually kinda fell into the wall going to the bathroom. Not good.
Somehow I picked myself together and met the girls out in the lobby and was ready to go. All 3 of them said how crappy I looked and was concerned about me running. Quite honestly, I really didn’t know if I should be running this thing, but I was at least going to the start line to try. I didn’t drive all the way out to NJ to not cross off that state.
We made the drive to the start line and easily found some parking again right by the start line. There was race day parking in the Resorts Casino, but it was cash only and $10. We ended up in some random hotel parking lot for cheaper. It was freezing with not just the actual temperature but also the 30mph winds. I wasn’t really feeling any better, but I tried to get some breakfast down and suck it up. Again, we waited in the car until the last minute and then headed to the boardwalk.
Once we got there though, they announced a 10 minute delay due to a traffic issue. I wasn’t going to wait in the cold, so I went and sat in the resort entrance hall. Between the immediate change in temperature I wasn’t doing well at all. Kristy was persistent that I had to take a salt cap, but all she had was the capsules. Since I can’t swallow pills, she made be basically chew off one end and take what I could once it was opened. Let me say that is was gross. Finally we were just minutes away from the start, so we headed outside. We all wished each other good luck and then separated. As they were all still worried about me, I told them I would stop at a med tent if I needed help.
Once we crossed the start line, I could tell it was going to be a miserable day. The winds were just insane, holding strong around what seemed to be about 20-30mph but gusts up to 50 mph! Um, isn’t that basically tropical storm winds? I joked with the girls that I would draft off some tall guy, but there was no one. Everyone just separated and with it being a small race, there was never really a pack.
The course I felt was broken down into two segments. The boardwalk and the out and back road part. On the boardwalk, the wind mainly seemed to be a cross wind. Every time you’d go by a road and there was an opening on the boardwalk, it just blew you sideways. You would hear everyone start grumbling and cursing. It was pretty evident that no one was having fun and if they were, they had a sick mind.
I was debating if I wanted to do the run/walk, but as soon as I started and really felt that wind, I went for it. I stuck with the 4:15/0:45 and it seemed to really help. Throughout the entire race, there was maybe only a handful of times I didn’t stick to that ratio and that was either due to water stops or because I literally couldn’t run in the wind.
The first 3.8 miles (ish) was on the boardwalk. It was the same scenery was the race before, so nothing seemed special for me there. Just before mile 4 though, we headed off the boardwalk and into the streets. It was here that the wind just became absolutely miserable and almost unbearable. Of course even though we seemed to have a crosswind, as we turned, it turned right into a crazy headwind.
I wasn’t really feeling any better at this point and I wanted to actually just stop. I even told myself that if I saw a med tent, I would stop and get checked out. Well, big negative for this race — I saw NONE!! Not a single one or someone at a water stop that seemed to be of medical assistance. That actually pissed me off. What if it was something serious? I mean perhaps I could have really been in a delirious state and missed them, but I saw nothing that screamed MEDICAL HELP HERE.
The wind was just mentally getting to me. It hurt, it was throwing sand and dirt everyone and it just sucked. Of all the weather I’ve run in, that wind was certainly the worst. I was afraid there wouldn’t be any water at the water stops, but what they did was great. Perhaps dealing with shore weather and high winds sometimes, they’ve just perfected it. They essentially had shallow plastic tubs and would put all of the water cups in there. They would see runners come and the volunteers would grab from there. Genius, right?
I don’t think I was even at mile 5 when I was Hollie come sprinting by on her way home. I hadn’t had the chance to meet Hollie in person yet, but she was the first female runner and looked as if the wind wasn’t bothering her at all. In a way, it did pick me up a bit. Since it was the out and back, I knew I would start seeing the other girls as well. First came Kristy and she immediately asked how I was doing. I think I just gave her a weird looked and said not good. Then came Mar and probably gave her the same look and reaction and then came Steff. She3 was just smiling away and all I could do was cheer her on. Seeing those 3 go by helped pick my spirits up for sure. It was also around there, I tried to grab a short clip to capture even just the sound of the wind. Excuse the heavy breathing. I was driving the struggling bus.
Since this race was just an out and back, I knew around mile 6.5, I’d be making the turn back. Well, this never seemed to come! We just kept running through each small NJ Shore town, even ran by Lucy the Elephant but that turn around point never seemed to come. Well, finally like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, it did finally come and my only thought was yes – the wind is going to be at my back now. Ha. Joke was on me. As I turned, the wind seemed to turn as well and even came in stronger.
At one point, I was running and started almost going backwards. My walk breaks were harder and I just put my head and shoulders down and kept going. I really wanted to be done. I was miserable and only seemed to feel worse and worse. Finally after about 2 miles on the roads, which by the way, we were sharing with cars, so it was not closed for us, we headed back to the boardwalk. We turned on at a different point where we got off. We were greeted by some great volunteers cheering us on. And truly, hats off to all of the volunteers out there that day. I thanked every one that I could. Just standing out there in those conditions I can imagine was miserable.
The only saving grace at this point in the race was that the day was actually a very sunny day and there were hardly any clouds in the sky. This definitely helped a lot. At mile 10, even with just a 5k to go, I had to still talk myself into finishing this thing. I kept telling myself I had less than 36 minutes to go and to suck it up. I also told myself at this point I had maybe 6 to 7 run/walk segments. Breaking it down this way actually helped a lot.
Finally with about a mile to go, I started to see people walking back from the finish line with medals on. Sometimes I hate seeing this because it makes me mad that I am still out there, but this time, it helped push me forward. Most everyone that walked by cheered as well and for a course that had very little spectators, that was huge.
Then, I saw it. The finish line area. They did not have the big blown arch up, but I knew it was there. I kept thinking about which firemen would be there to hand my my medals. It was a nice thought that kept me going. As I came into the finish chute, I saw Mar and Kristy there cheering me. I felt bad that they had waited that long in the cold just to see me finish. I would have been totally fine with them sitting in the warm car. What great friends they are!
Once I crossed the finish line, my first thought was where are the firemen!? They had 2-3 there giving out water and Gatorade, but that was it. My second thought was.. Oh, shit.. I am going down. I made eye contact with one fireman and I really started getting dizzy. I honestly thought I was going to be down on the boardwalk and wake up to them hovering over me. Thank god, that didn’t happen though. To get your medals, you had to walk over to some table. Lame. Once I had mine, the girls found me and we headed inside for a bit. This honestly made me feel worse, but Kristy desperately needed to try and warm up her poor fingers. We got a quick finishers photo as close to the beach as I think we all wanted to go and then headed back to the hotel.
Once back in the hotel room, I got sicker. It was weird. I had no idea what was going on. Kristy and I quickly finished, kinda said goodbye to Mar and then headed home. I was happy to be getting on the road as I just wanted to get home. Before we got on the expressway though, we of course stopped at WaWa for lunch. Sometimes, I think that’s the best thing about NJ.
Well, on the way home, Kristy noticed some red bumps forming on her arm. She was saying they were itching and they just seemed to pop up. We had the thought they might be bed bugs, but I didn’t have any bites, so we weren’t sure. Well, once we got home (around 7ish), Kristy confirmed later that night it was in fact bed bugs. I basically cleaned all of my stuff ASAP and just hoped I didn’t bring any home. Unfortunately, Kristy just kept getting worse and I was feeling horrible about this. After all of her research, we came to the conclusion that my sickness was all related to bed bugs. It seemed perhaps I wasn’t allergic to the bites, but rather hit by the nauseous and dizziness which can be common.
Still almost 2 weeks later, we have been battling the hotel about this issue. We’ve asked for our money back and nothing. The hotel manager has basically said we had to deal with and it was out fault. I’d probably use other choice words, but potentially not everyone wants to read those words. I even contacted the Atlantic County Health Department and their independent investigation confirmed bed bug activity in our room. Yet the manager still tells us there are no bed bugs. Ugh. Not cool on so many levels.
Considering how I felt and how I probably should not have even run the race and taking in account for the weather, I don’t think my finish was all too terrible. It seems my average half time right now is around 2:15 to 2:20, so finishing at 2:27, isn’t too far off. It certainly was not what I wanted, but sometimes you have to change your goal and just take a finish. I wish I could say I am done with NJ, but I still have to find a marathon in that state to run. Oh, and my parents still live there. Oops.
If you’re on a 50 State quest or just looking for a potential PR course, I would definitely recommend this race. The race communication got a little crazy (I think 4 emails in one day), but the volunteers on the course were nice and the course is pancake flat. Packet pick up was a cluster and took way to long for such a small race and those volunteers were, uh, not the nicest either. Also, race pictures were free! The bling was great and I loved that there was a challenge for the weekend as well. Just don’t stay at the hotel we stayed at and you’ll be good!
Official Finish Time:
153/295, F 30-39