I think of running as a solitary, almost lonely sport. That being said, my favorite races have all been with family and friends. The Wild Half Marathon was no exception. My sister, niece, nephew and I all signed up for this race last year. Why this race? The Wild Half is in a fun location (NJ shore), boasts a very flat/fast course, and took place the same weekend as my birthday. To make things even more fun, my wife, daughter and younger brother came along on the journey.
Location: Wildwood, NJ
Timing: Chip Timing
Course: Boardwalk, paved road, wind
Size: X-Large (1100+)
Pre-Race: Our hotel was almost directly across the street from the Adventure Pier where the Registration / Packet pickup was taking place. I was able to check in, pickup my shirt, get my ride wristband and my Over 21 wristband within 5 minutes. The rest of our gang all had similar experiences. They had packet pickup available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday which really kept the lines short.
One of the perks of the race was a wristband which entitled you to free rides on the amusement piers for both Saturday and Sunday. You could also buy additional wristbands for friends and family at a steep discount. We picked one up for Kay and Meredith so we could spend the afternoon trying the rides.
Once the rest of the gang arrived we picked up their packets and then got down to business. We prepared for the race by going to Capt’n Jacks Island Grill where we enjoyed a bunch of drinks, frickles, some shots and something called a Fishbowl. Afterward we continued to eat and drink too much at the North End American Grill. In case there was still room in our bellies, we went back to the boardwalk to sample some “Beaver Tail”.
You can use this as a “What Not To Do Before a Half Marathon” manual. We stuffed and dehydrated ourselves the night before the race. Not the best plan. That being said, I had a great time and would do it all again. The laughs we had at the bar and restaurant are priceless memories.
I had to take some Prevacid, Tums, Advil and Pepto to calm my insides and get a restless nights sleep.
I woke up at 0615 and my insides were still tangled. I was out of Pepto so I needed to say a small prayer to the Gastrointestinal Gods to protect me throughout the race. We were only a few blocks from the Expo Center where the race started/finished so we were there with plenty of time to spare. The lines for the Porta-Potties were short (I didn’t have to wait) and they were remarkably clean. We took this group selfie or “groupie” and then we were off!
The Race: We lined up with the 10 minute mile pace group. I thought that was a bit ambitious for me. Since my last half marathon in October I had two long runs of 6 miles. I had very low expectations for the day.
The race goes around the block and right up to the boardwalk. You stay on the boardwalk until you reach the end and transition to road. The course is very flat but the wind was definitely a factor at times. Sometimes it was pushing you along and other times it felt like it was grinding you to a halt. I was pretty sure it was going to blow me right off a bridge and into the harbor. I initially fell behind the 10 mile pacer but I caught up by the time we reached the turn around point.
The second half of the race the Wind Gods favored me with a strong tailwind. With the wind at my back I was able to keep going and even increased my pace on the way to the finish line. Even though I hadn’t trained well for this distance, I found the miles passed easily. I finished in 2:03:14. That was well ahead of any expectations I had. The G.I. Gods also smiled on me and I managed to not soil myself. The day could not have gone better. All four of us finished and we were all in one piece.
Logistically the race was very smooth. There were plenty of port-potties, water stops, and Gu Gels. There were a fair amount of spectators along the course, but most of it them were near the boardwalk. My Garmin had the race ending about .25 miles short of the half-marathon distance but I don’t know if that was me or the race.
The race had its own party area. They had the food tent which had the basics (bananas, apples, bagels, pretzels and water). If you wanted something more interesting they had a variety of food trucks. They also had beer if you were so inclined. There was a band on hand that played all sorts of cover tunes. It was a pretty good atmosphere, but we were all chilly and needed to check out of the motel before 1100. We took our second groupie photo before heading out of town.
Goodies: The tecchnical T-shirt, medal and ride wristband.
The Wild Half: www.wildhalf.com
Morey’s Piers: http://www.moreyspiers.com/