“Don’t dream of winning, train for it”.
The 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon has been in focus for me for the entire year. I targeted this race since I have never run there before, and the course was described as completely flat. I wanted to visit the famed boardwalk and see how my training translated to the course.
Another exciting aspect of running this race was the opportunity to see my tree branch, Lauren Apgar again. Lauren has been a tree branch since our time in the Florida State University’s Career Center. We were able to connect during the 2019 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon and I have not seen her since due to COVID-19. Atlantic City provided an opportunity for us to reconnect and for me to finally meet Reese, her boyfriend.
I signed up for the 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon back in June 2021 so had this destination on the running tourist calendar for a while.
I normally fly on Southwest Airlines, but they do not have flights directly into Atlantic City. Flying Southwest Airlines required me to fly into Philadelphia and then drive an hour plus over to Atlantic City. Took a chance and viewed flight options on Expedia and discovered direct flights on Spirit Airlines to Atlantic City from Orlando. The price point for the roundtrip flight was less than a one-way ticket to Philly on Southwest Airlines so Spirit became my airline of choice for this trip. I did not know much about Spirit, but the experience was great for me start to finish.
I flew into Atlantic City on Friday with designs to get use to the area and catch up with Lauren prior to the race on Sunday. My hotel was in Egg Harbor Township which is only 8 miles away from the famed Atlantic City board walk and race start line. Note: I will stay much closer in 2023.
Met Lauren and Reese at Chickie’s and Pete’s which is a local sports bar in the area. Lauren picked this location for us to help with the carb loading process and catch up for missed time. It was great to sit with her and talk about family, friends, and professional growth. The three of us were able to enjoy some good food, beer, and the reunion.
This was Lauren’s first Rock N Roll race experience so wanted to make sure she got the most out of the experience. We agreed to meet at the Atlantic City Convention Center for the EXPO the next morning. I was surprised to see outlet stores downtown as I drove into the heart of the city. I knew there would be casinos, but the outlet stores put a smile on my face since I love shopping outlets.
Lauren, Reese, and I entered the EXPO to check in for the race and visit with the vendors. We were able to navigate the check-in process and make our way to the vendors to check out new equipment, gadgets, and nutritional products.
The first vendor we encountered provided free sessions using the NORMATEK leg compression sleeves. We were able to plug in and enjoy the technology to increase blood flow and relax before race day. The 20-minute session was a highlight of the EXPO—I will have to research these sleeves more and invest in a set soon since my running program is ramping up for the Fall 2022 race season.
We made our way through the EXPO, and I got additional CEP leg compression sleeves. Decided this new color pattern would be a good addition to my collection.
A new feature for this EXPO was gaming tables that were setup to allow participants to try blackjack, roulette, and craps games. Race participants received a $100 coupon to play during the EXPO and we made our way to the roulette table. My favorite number is 15 so played that continually while at the roulette table. I was able to hit 15 once which pays 36 to 1 odds. I was excited to add chips to my growing stack. A few others won as well, and this is where it got interesting. We all assumed we were playing for prizes (water bottle, towel, etc.) but the dealer let us know we were just playing for fun. Most of us went all in with our chips after discovering we were playing just to say we were playing—no money, no prizes, and no glory. 😊
Left the roulette table and got some energy gels before heading out for lunch.
Got the customary EXPO shots most of you expect:
Made our way to Wingcraft Kitchen and Beer Bar for lunch. This restaurant was conveniently across the street from the Convention Center. They have a very nice menu but settled on wings, fries, and beer to continue the carb loading process. Hit the Nike and Gap outlet stores after lunch to pick up some sales before heading back to the hotel for a quick nap.
Had a pasta dinner at Jerry Longo’s which is inside Bally’s casino. Headed back to the hotel to rest up for the big race.
The forecast called for rain and fog most of the weekend and it was spot on. Woke up on race day to thick fog which equals a certain level of humidity. The temperature was in the mid-50s when I woke up, but the fog made it feels a bit warmer—not Florida warm but not exactly what I envisioned for New Jersey in April.
I was able to park and catch the shuttle bus to the start line with minimal issues and met Lauren at the start line prior. Lauren told me on Friday she planned to run with me, and we began to work on our race strategy. I told her my normal routine of running water stop to water stop and to take on fuel throughout the race. This also helps mentally break the half marathon distance into chunks instead of viewing it as one long race.
My plan was to run a smart tactical race and get us to the finish line while enjoying the process of racing. Mission accomplished!
Lauren and I ran the entire race together. I am extremely proud of her effort and perseverance during the race. She was able to set a Personal Record (PR) and took two full minutes off her best time. We crossed the finish line together, but she officially beat me by three seconds based on official times—congrats my friend!
Our race splits are below:
Mile 1: 9:28 / Mile 2: 9:35 / Mile 3: 9:26 / Mile 4: 9:52 / Mile 5: 9:32 / Mile 6: 10:29 / Mile 7: 10:10 / Mile 8: 9:53 / Mile 9: 11:14 / Mile 10: 10:59 / Mile 11: 10:48 / Mile 12: 11:33 / Mile 13: 10:38 / Mile 14: 1:56
We celebrated with pictures, beer, and breakfast on the board walk! This was a great course, EXPO, and race experience—so good, I have already signed up for the 2023 race.
I plan to stay closer to the boardwalk next year so I can enjoy the entertainment and shopping more. Looks like Lauren will be coming back as well so we can get her another PR! 😊
Well done, Lauren!
“The man who moves mountains begins by carrying small stones”.