A few weeks back when I started writing again I mentioned a recently discovered interest in running. In fact, beginning in January 2013 I started running, a lot. Last year I ran over 1100 miles, 26.2 of them happened to be in Atlantic City on October 13, 2013 when I ran the Atlantic City Marathon, my first of hopefully many more to come.
My wife and I drove to Atlantic City the day prior to pick up our packets at the expo and stayed the night at Caesars because it was located very close to the start/finish line. Being our first time running any sort of official event we didn’t know what to expect and were freaking out a bit with anxiety as well as excitement. After picking up our packets from the expo we spent most of the time relaxing in our room carb-loading on whole wheat bagels and quinoa while watching movies. We went to bed early to get as much rest as possible before the big day.
It had been three days since my last training run by the time Sunday rolled around, couple that with the adrenaline rush so when my alarm went off at 6 a.m. I was raring to go. We got ready slowly while trying to stay calm and ultimately made it outside to line up near the starting line around 7:30 a.m. This was a relatively small race, only a few thousand runners including half-marathoners, so there weren’t designated starting corrals. I lined up with the 9-minute/mile pace team whom I had chatted with the day before at the expo. In hindsight this was not a good decision. While I could certainly hold that pace or better during training runs, I had never attempted it while covering any significant distance (10+ miles) so I was probably a little too overzealous. Nevertheless, when the gun sounded I took off with the pace team not knowing what was going to happen.
As it turns out, I did pretty well, for the first half of the race. I completed the first half of the marathon in 1:58:00 (including a quick bathroom trip) which was seven minutes faster than my training best of 2:05:00. However, running such a quick pace for me during the first half consumed too much energy and the second half was much more difficult to complete. During the second half I had to take frequent, short walk breaks, especially between miles 18-25. I abandoned any sort of time goal and just set my mind on finishing the race. The volunteers handing out water, Gatorade, and snacks were fantastic and have my everlasting gratitude! The second half of the marathon took 2:38:56 which gave me an overall marathon time of 4:36:56 and 10:34 pace.
I was so excited (and relieved) to have finished the marathon and enamored with my finisher’s medal that I didn’t immediately notice the beating I had just given the lower half of my body. A few minutes after stopping my legs started having severe cramping. I had experienced this previously after my 15 and 20 mile training runs so I knew what to expect, but the blisters and black toenails I would find on my feet a short while later after returning to the hotel room was something I did not anticipate.
Running so much last year I had more than my fair share in dealing with running blisters, but these were on a whole new level. I wish I had pictures to post but unfortunately I can only describe it to you. Essentially, for both of my feet, the instep, the area underneath my toes, and all around my toes had just become one massive blister. It was like having half the surface area of your foot as one gigantic blister. Then, to top of off, my big toenails were black with the nails lifted off of the nail beds. While this freaked me out the most since it was something new I would later come to know via my podiatrist that this was merely a subungual hematoma, or “runner’s toe,” and not nearly as serious as it looks/sounds.
After the marathon I took a week off from running to allow my body time to recover. Eight days later I started with a short 3-mile run to get back into the swing of things and slowly returned to normal distance and pace over the weeks that followed. Since then, I’ve been working to slowly increase my pace over distance and am hoping to do at least one marathon this year. I registered for the NYC Marathon but did not get chosen this year so I’m on the lookout for another one to do. Who knows maybe AC round 2?
Here are some pictures of my experience at the 2013 Atlantic City Marathon: