Race recap: As the city slogan “Always Turned On” indicates, Atlantic City provided an energetic race venue along the historic boardwalk. Not sure how our bodies would feel after running the Baltimore Half Marathon less than 24 hours before this race (see recap here: Maryland), we went through our normal warm-up routine and got running to find out! Surprisingly our legs felt fairly fresh as we quickly turned off the Boardwalk and headed out into the city. The first 5 miles consisted primarily of running on highways, including on/off ramps and through tunnels (all traffic was blocked so we were safe). Not necessarily the most scenic areas, but the ground was even, fairly flat and the wind was kept at bay so I was happy. By mile 8 we realized that none of the water stations had electrolytes, despite the race brochure stating Gatorade would be available at "select water stations." Luckily the cool temperatures, mild humidity and smiles on our faces allowed us to keep going without too much concern about our salt/electrolyte intake. After passing the Abescon Lighthouse (kind of in a sketchy area) we took to the Boardwalk for the last 4 miles. Despite some awkward footing at times (the Boardwalk is made up wood slats nailed in a diagonal direction) the surface was actually pretty nice to run on. Just before mile 10 we passed the finish line but had to double-back over the Boardwalk in order to earn our stripes. The winds were beginning to pick up and there were a few times when sand smacked us in the face, but once we saw the turnaround at mile 11 we knew we were in the homestretch. Our tanks were running close to empty, but we powered through the final miles and triumphantly crossed the line together - wide smiles and all. Despite running a half marathon less than 24 hours before starting this race, our bodies felt pretty good (given the circumstances) and we were thrilled to post two, sub 1:49 finishes in the same weekend!
Highlights: Running on the Boardwalk was pretty cool and definitely a memorable experience, but the real highlight was walking to the beach post-race with our free beer in hand and relaxing in two metal chairs as we looked at the ocean and talked about our running adventures and milestones to date.
Tip: Italian ice + hot chicken broth at the finish line= best post-race meal ever!
Day 1 (Saturday):
After running the Baltimore Half Marathon earlier that morning we grabbed a quick shower we took to the highway for our 3 hour drive to Atlantic City.
At the expo we tried Alo Exposed, an all natural drink with chunks of aloe vera in it (yes, the same stuff you put on a sunburn). Alo was surprisingly tasty and refreshing, if not a bit odd that we had to occasionally 'chew' the drink (similar to the consistency of orange juice with extra pulp).
Atlantic City is best described as a miniature Las Vegas on the beach. While the casinos are not as grand as Vegas, the feel in and around the Boardwalk (akin to a scaled down version of the Strip in Vegas) was very much the same. The weather was uncharacteristically warm so our stroll down to the beach to watch the sun set was quite nice even if the wind was a bit out of control.
While each casino has it's own theme and attractions, Caesar's is by far the coolest in Atlantic City (inside and out). The sculptures are really impressive and make you feel like you are in ancient Rome. We even ran into Caesar and Cleopatra on our visit!
After a quick stop at the Outlet Mall, we followed the trusty advice of Urban Spoon and headed to Los Amigos for some pre-race Mexican fare. Kristin's Sangria was tasty and paired well with the awesome chips and salsa - the salsa had a bit of spice, but was super fresh. We both ate the chicken fajitas, which were lean and well prepared, with a side of beans and rice. This local favorite is within walking distance of most casinos on the Boardwalk and worth a visit.
We're not big on flan, so dessert at Los Amigos was out. Fortunately, during our walk through The Pier at Caesar's we stumbled across It's Sugar, which has an outstanding selection of gummy snacks. After Kristin's quick hug with the 2 story tall jelly-bean elephant we continued our stroll through Caesar's to the water fountain show and enjoyed our gummy treats. I love a good gummy and really enjoyed these treats - except for the gummy candy corn, which tasted terrible.
Day 2 (Sunday - Race Day):
White House Subs has been consistently been voted the #1 restaurant in Atlantic City - so we had to see what all the fuss was about. The line was quite long for this hole in the wall restaurant, but we were lucky to be seated immediately at the counter. It was nice to avoid the wait and rest our feet, and eating at the counter made the whole experience feel much more authentic. The Italian (the picture below is a half) with sweet peppers was outstanding. The fresh baked bread had just the right amount of crisp and the entire sandwich was amazing. This place makes me want to boycott Subway. Potentially the best sub I have ever eaten; I am salivating just thinking about it...agghhh....
New Jersey Half Marathon Medals
October 16, 2011: Atlantic City Half Marathon