‘An elephant, a purple tutu and an unintentional PR’.
This weekend my wife Shari, my sister in law Rina and I headed down to Atlantic City, NJ to run the Atlantic City April Fool’s Half Marathon. Shari and I had run the inaugural race in 2012. It was a fun weekend and so we signed up again together with Rina which was to be her second half marathon after Walt Disney World this last January.
We don’t really have a choice ‘NOT’ do to run in this event, after all we were part of the advertising campaign for this race which we discovered at the expo for the Rock & Roll Half Marathon in Philadelphia last September.
The weather this weekend finally was seasonal and so we headed down early on Saturday to get our race packets (packet pick up was at the Revel Casino and Hotel) and then headed over to Ocean City, NJ so that the boys could have some of their own fun at the amusement rides on the boardwalk. They had a blast. I on the other hand broke my own rule about fun fairs (which is that Mummy does the rides and Daddy holds the bags). Let’s just say I never want to see a ‘Tilt-a-Whirl’ ever again. Not a good idea to lose your sense of equilibrium the day before a race. Anyway, once everything seemed upright we headed back towards our hotel with a carb-loading stop at one of our favorite Italian restaurants before heading in for a reasonably early night.
We had booked our hotel (Marriott Courtyard) when we signed up for the race as it was close by Bally’s Casino and Hotel which was the start/finish line last year and what was on the initial information we had. The start/finish line was moved back about a mile to the Revel Casino and Hotel so this called for a walk of just under a mile to the start line early Sunday. It was a little chilly as we left our hotel and we were all worried we were not dressed appropriate but better to be too cold than too warm when running. We huddled into the lobby of the Revel with all the other runners to stay warm. One advantage of such locations is that there are real bathrooms available pre-race and somewhere warm to stand. A nice luxury on a chilly morning.
As we shuffled out to the start line with the rest of the runners we bumped into our friend Mayela who we first met at last years race. She looked like she was dressed for summer and made us even more concerned we were dressed wrong with our multiple layers. Oh well, too late now.
Following the singing of the National Anthem the race started promptly and off we went. My plan for this race was to take it steady and run easy as my goal was to use this as a training run with the New Jersey Marathon just 4 weeks away. I didn’t want to overdo it. The last time I had run with Shari was at the Walt Disney World Marathon back in January and we had previously run the 2012 Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half Marathon and Hershey Half Marathon together step by step from start to finish. I thought we would be doing the same and was looking forward to doing so as last year we both ran our own race here (and both PR’d). What I didn’t expect was my little red head in a purple tutu to go off the start line like Lightening McQueen!!! What the heck?!?!
This was unexpected. I wasn’t quite prepared and I spent more than half the race just trying to keep Shari in my sights. Luckily she was easy to spot all in purple with a tutu. I felt good running and was monitoring my heart rate to make sure I wasn’t exerting too much effort. It was a nice sunny day and so I settled into a good rhythm and got my head in the game. Once we left the Boardwalk in Ventnor, NJ we headed through Margate, NJ past Lucy the Elephant to the turnaround just inside of Longport, NJ. The course is pretty flat, in fact the only ‘hill’ was the ramp up to the Boardwalk at mile 8.5 on the way back into Ventnor. On the way out, I would say I was around mile 5, I saw the leaders running back towards me. I tried to kid myself that they must have been running the 11K race but no, they really were that much faster than me.
During this race I was still experimenting with my run/walk ratio ahead of the NJ Marathon. I had gone from 5:00/0:30 which I used for almost all of 2012 and through Disney to 4:00/0:35. However during the race my Gymboss interval timer malfunctioned and I had to fix it on the run. Delicately handling the device so not to lose the battery I removed and replaced the battery and reset the device all while moving at a consistent pace. I am not sure how long I was running but probably missed a walk break. I moved the interval to 4:00/0:40 so I could have a little more time to bring my heart rate down during walk breaks and soldiered on.
I saw Shari after the turnaround heading in the opposite direction and later saw my sister in law who yelled that Shari was beating me by a lot (thanks for the support Rina). I finally caught up to Shari just before we turned back onto the Boardwalk. We pretty much were close together until the last half a mile when annoyed by my constant chit chat she told me to go ahead. We finished within seconds. I ran 1:52:43 and Shari ran 1:52:54. I had PR’d by just over a minute and Shari PR’d by over 5 minutes. Awesome stuff. I looked at Shari’s splits after uploading her run to Garmin Connect when we got home and she was consistently within a few seconds of 8:30 a mile all through the race. I had a negative split (maybe my first) and that is the only way I was able to catch up with Shari.
We had told my in-laws that we would probably be around the 2 hour mark but thanks to the purple speed demon we were ahead of plan. At around mile 12.5 I passed my in-laws coming to the finish line with the boys. I gave a quick yell so they could see me but I was a green blur to them. Luckily they were able to catch Shari just as she ran past as a purple blur. We crossed the finish line and again bumped into Mayela who finished about a minute or two ahead of us. We quickly grabbed some water and food and headed to see the boys. They were so excited to see us and I think more excited that we brought them food. Everyone seemed to be having fun while we waited for Rina to finish.
We were all full of soft pretzels, bananas and Gatorade (and Micah was full of ice cream….before 10am) as we waited for Rina and cheer her on to the finish. After a couple of false alarms (we saw pink in the distance but the runners were not pink) Rina came into view. Everyone was excited for her, no more so than her Mom and Dad who came down with the boys to the finish line to watch. We cheered here on in all her pink tutu’d glory as she PR’d by almost an hour in only her second Half Marathon.
Great weekend, great race and a nice start to our race season. I am very proud of Shari for her run yesterday. She kept me on my game. I wish she was my official pacer for the NJ Marathon next month as I actually go for an intentional PR (no pressure). I am sure we will run races together again the whole way and look forward to running the San Francisco Half Marathon in July with her. Very proud too of my sister in law Rina. I guess I’ll have to get my own tutu for upcoming races. It seems it’s a necessary accessory for fun and fast races. 🙂