- 3 miles/5K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
- Event Website
I had the privilege of running the 2022 Atlantic City Marathon in October - the country's third-oldest continuing marathon! This was marathon #24 for me in my 23rd state, and I was excited to check out all that AC had to offer! I arrived on Saturday afternoon, which was the day before the race. I was able to park at the hotel I was staying at and walk down the boardwalk to Bally's where the expo was hosted. The expo itself was fairly small, but all of the volunteers were so friendly, the line for bib pick-up moved quickly, and they had a solid selection of merchandise. I was able to pick up a finisher's shirt and a magnet from the merchandise shop which I was very excited about, but I think my favorite piece of merchandise was the quarter zip runners got with registration. I think the quarter zip is among some of the best swag I've received with my registration among almost any race I've done, so I was very happy with that!
Race morning was unfortunately rainy and gray, so I knew we were in for a long day. Luckily the start/finish area was in a fairly central and easy-to-access location on the boardwalk, so getting there was super easy from the boardwalk hotels. I did my warm-up run from my hotel to the start line, so that worked out perfectly! Gear check was also super straightforward and efficient, and runners were able to utilize any bag they felt comfortable leaving behind instead of having to stick to a specific race-issued bag. I don't typically utilize gear check, but since I was traveling alone, I ended up using the gear check and was very happy with how it was run.
The race itself kicked off at 8:00 am and I was off on a 26.2-mile journey with 1,100 of my closest friends! The first half of the course was with the half marathoners, and I enjoyed this part of the race! The course itself did a lot of looping and doubling back among the neighborhoods of Atlantic City which I enjoyed. It was so fun to take so many turns and see what was around each corner, and it made the miles in the first half just melt away!
We got back to the boardwalk around mile 8 and that's where the wind started to pick up. Some of the gusts were around 15-20mph and we were all getting pushed around. Luckily the rain wasn't all that bad (more drizzle than anything at that point), but it was a preview of what was to come. At mile 11.5 or so, the marathon split from the half marathon and we kept chugging our way down the boardwalk. We stayed on the boardwalk until about mile 13, but as we got onto the roads, we kept moving in a straight direction. The back half of the marathon course was largely an out-and-back on one road which had a huge impact on my mental game. Seeing the same thing for miles on end was a mental challenge, so I had to fight to stay focused on ticking the miles away.
We turned back around at mile 16 or so and went back the way we came. It was cool to be able to see the runners on the other side of the course coming back, and I even saw my fellow BRP Vanessa! However, heading back in the direction we came from meant we were dealing with a MASSIVE headwind that did not relent for the entirety of the rest of the race. We did have a little bit of respite around miles 17.5 - 21 as we did a bit of a loop in a nearby neighborhood to get those extra miles in, but as soon as we popped back out onto the road to head toward the finish, the headwind was still there. Such a huge mental and physical battle to fight against the wind like that!
On a personal note, I started bonking pretty hard around mile 17.5 and basically didn't recover for the rest of the race. Reflecting on it, my pre-race and in-race fueling was nowhere near what it needed to be (I was VERY under-fueled!), so I'm not surprised that I felt so terrible. Add that to the list of mental and physical challenges for this race! I kept fighting, though. I needed to finish this race!
We got back on the boardwalk around mile 23 and started to make our way down the final stretch toward the finish. With the headwinds still raging, I took a look at my watch and saw that I was on a pretty similar pace to my time in Chicago two weeks earlier. Because of this, I got it in my head that I could potentially try to beat my Chicago time, and that kept me motivated to keep pushing forward as quickly as I could. Around mile 24 or so the rain started to pick up, and it felt like all of the elements were working against the runners that were still out there on the course! I kept my head down and kept pushing, and when I hit the mile 26 marker, I had about 4 minutes to beat my Chicago time! I knew it was going to be close so I kept at it, dug deep, and finally crossed the finish line in 5:09:41, which was a minute and a half faster than my Chicago time!! So proud of myself for fighting through this race.
Atlantic City was a tough race for me for several reasons, but the organization of the race, the staff, and the volunteers were so fabulous the whole weekend. Their communication was great, everyone was so cheerful and friendly even though the weather was less than ideal and they put on a great event for the runners that participated. I'm hopeful that future race weekends have some better weather for the participants because this was truly an awesome race. Thank you to the Atlantic City Marathon organizers and volunteers for making this race so special for all of us!