Race Report: Wildwood Half
Despite my lack of writing, I have been training! After the Hot Chocolate 15k, I was burnt out; I took a week off and got right back to work preparing for the Wildwood Half-Marathon, which I ran the Sunday before last. I have also been doing a significant amount of spinning and I am still swimming. Blogging took a backseat to life, but that happens!
First, some background: The Wildwood Half was my first half-marathon in 2.5 years. It was also my TENTH half-marathon! This race has haunted me for years. Way back in 2011, I signed up and made it my A-race heading into the Philadelphia Marathon. It was cancelled due to Hurricane Irene and I spent that day running 16 miles on a treadmill! I signed up again in 2012, but dropped to the 8k and then bagged it altogether because it was ridiculously hot that day and I felt unprepared. I signed up AGAIN for 2013 but they cancelled it altogether and moved it to 2014. The date didn’t work for me, so I deferred to 2015. Turns out, that weekend in May also didn’t work. I signed up AGAIN in 2016, but then had my car accident and wasn’t even running again yet by the time the race rolled around. Le sigh. I signed up…again…for 2017. Come hell or high water (and the race had seen both!) I was racing in 2017!
Now, given my history with the race, you would think I would have had my ducks in a row. I signed up way back in August, when I had just started training for the Perfect 10 miler. All winter I prepared foe this race- I trained hard and trained well. The 15k proved to be a solid predictor of how my half would go and I felt ready. Then, two days before the race, I got my confirmation. I was signed up for the 8k. WHAT??? I don’t even know how that happened! Luckily the half wasn’t sold out and it was an easy fix to move up. Ok, Wildwood, we’re on!
I drove down Friday night with my boyfriend so that we could make a weekend out of it. My parents were also down for a long weekend to celebrate their 40th anniversary (40 years!!) so it was and extra special race weekend.
Pre-Race: I picked up my packet on Saturday so I was able to scope out the course start/finish and figure out where my parents and Rich should watch for me. It was HOT that day and I was glad we were in for cooler temps on Sunday! Sunday morning I woke up and went through my usual pre-race ritual of breakfast, coffee and stretching. My mom and I walked down around 6:30am. It was empty; so empty, that I thought I got the start time wrong! I took the opportunity to make a bathroom stop (real bathrooms!!!) and by the time I came out the line had tripled. Time was right, haha! Got myself together, made another trip the bathroom and headed to the start line. Found my friends Lauren, Lesley and Amanda in the same corral and lined myself just ahead of the 11 minute pacer. I knew there was a chance I could PR, if I could hold myself under an 11 for a solid portion of the race. At the very least, I knew for my goal time, I had to stay under 12mm.
Race: The race starts on the street and loops up to the boardwalk. This was cool because within the first mile I was able to see my mom, plus the crowds were awesome. It was not cool because it was PACKED trying to get up the one area of boardwalk ramp up to the actual boardwalk. I stayed in a good pack for about the first 4’ish miles, before starting to feel myself fade. Just in time, I saw friends of mine that run a bit faster and spent some time keeping up with them. Then it hit…the wall. At mile 6! WTF!? My stomach was starting to bother me, my legs were feeling heavy and right ahead of me was not on bridge, but two! Just as I hit the first bridge, the 11 minute pace group passed me. Though not steep inclines, I was running right into headwinds- so much so that my visor blew off! Between that, my stomach and running over the large grates, I was losing my mojo fast! As I hit the turnaround, I noticed that although there was no headwind, there also wasn’t a tailwind. Just heat. Sun and heat and my upset stomach and back over the bridges. I was walking quite a bit at this point. I was still on pace for a PR but could feel it slipping away with every step. At just the right time, my friend Lesley came up on me and it was just the kick in the butt I needed to get moving again. We ran together for about a mile before I felt good enough to take off again. I felt back in control but my stomach was becoming more of an issue. I felt like I was thirsty, but with every sip of water I felt sicker and sicker. Finally, it all came to a head just past mile 10 and I got sick. I felt better immediately, but now had to contend mentally with my race that was clearly falling apart. I knew I had lost my PR, the crowd had thinned out to almost zero, I was completely in my own head and my body was not cooperating at all. I just wanted to finish, but I knew it was going to be a tough last three miles. I ran/walked the entire length of the boardwalk until just about a half mile left when there were TONS of cheer squads. It was the pick me up I needed (like miles beforehand) and I was able to run through to the finish. It was super cool to see my boyfriend and parents at the finish shoot and, although I didn’t get a PR, I did come well within my goal time. I was just so happy to be finished!
Post-Race: BEST POST RACE BRUNCH ever! Legit- all of the food. Eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, donuts, bagels, pretzels…and it was all still HOT! Plus, beer! I wanted to stay and hang out but I was tired and sore and also just wanted to be home. So after a few bites, we took off. A few hours later, we had lunch and then headed all the way home.
Overall, for everything that went wrong, I was pretty happy with my results. For the most part, I only have positive things to say about the race itself. It was well organized and they had plenty of water stops (are you listening Hot Chocolate rd’s??) and the course was beautiful. I loved running in my favorite New Jersey town and being able to stay the weekend. My only criticism is the lack of support on the course; I know nothing can be done about lack of spectators, but it would be cool to have the cheer squads all along the course. I felt pretty alone from about miles 5-10, which made the race feel like a regular run down the shore. That said, I would still do it again, and plan to next year. However, I think this time I am going to sign up for the 8k. Like, for real 🙂
All the signs waiting for me at the finish!
Next up: Bucks County 10 miler