Location: Atlantic City, NJ
Weather: 62 Degrees and Heavy Rain
Distance: Half Ironman (1.2 Mile Swim, 56 Mile Bike, 13.1 Run)
Finish Time: 4 Hours 52 Minutes 19 Seconds
Overall: 124 out of 1,971
Division: 22 out of 168
Last race of the triathlon season! I wasn’t originally planning on doing another race after Ironman Lake Placid, but decided to sign up for this one a few months ago because it was in New Jersey and close to home. It was difficult training for this race and simultaneously training for the Chicago Marathon (October 7th). I had to increase my run volume the last few weeks, which took time away from biking and swimming. Nevertheless, I did extremely well and set another Personal Record (PR), with an overall time of 4:52.
I stayed at an Airbnb in Sommer’s Point, which is 20 minutes away from Atlantic City. It would have been fun to stay at a hotel casino, but the prices were astronomical. I was hoping the place would have a kitchen or at least a microwave, but unfortunately it had neither. As a result, my pre-race dinner was a pumpkin bagel and a can of salmon (separately, not together). Though, maybe it wouldn’t have been unusual - did you read about Cynthia Nixon’s bagel order?
The race transition area was at Bader Field, which used to be an old runway. It’s about a mile from the Atlantic City Boardwalk. I spent Saturday checking in and setting up my logistics for the race. You’d think I’d be an expert by now, but it still requires a lot of planning and preparation. Unfortunately, a major problem occurred with my bike – one of the threads stripped on my aero handlebars. It’s a special part that I can only get from the manufacturer. I was extremely concerned because I knew it would affect my balance or at least make the ride uncomfortable. Fortunately, I was able to secure it with a few zip ties, so it wasn’t that bad.
My nutrition for the race was three rice cakes with PB and honey before start, one Chia gel before the swim, 900 calories of Infinit Nutrition in a water bottle on the bike (with BCAAs, Citruline Malate), two Huma gels and one Science in Sport gel for the run.
I like being one of the first to arrive on race morning so that I can finish setting up my bike and transition area, without the crowds. I left my Airbnb at 4:00 AM and arrived at 4:30. I pumped up my bike tires and set up my bike shoes, run shoes and other accessories that I needed for the race.
At 6:30 am we headed down to the bay for the swim start. The skies were cloudy, but it wasn’t raining. The swim course was one big clockwise lap. The initial section was difficult because the current was opposite our direction. It felt less crowded than IMLP, but there was still no shortage of imbeciles grabbing and pushing my feet. I finished the swim in 44 minutes, which was what I expected.
I had trouble getting my wetsuit off after the swim, but they had wetsuit strippers to assist. Most races have soft mats in this area, but this race had nothing for cushion. As a result, I sliced my hand on the pavement when I dropped down. It wasn’t that bad, but there was a good amount of blood. I had to run with the blood handy until I got to my bike. I used some valuable water to wash off the blood and fortunately, the bleeding stopped once I started cruising at high speed.
The bike route wasn’t anything special – most of it on the Atlantic City Expressway. It started drizzling and then it began raining pretty hard. This would continue for the rest of the race. It was a major safety issue, as many people slid out and crashed. There were also a lot of debris on the roads, like water bottles and bike parts. I made sure that I was very careful around the slick turns. Thankfully, I finished the bike leg without any incidents. The crowd support was low given the weather conditions and lack of viewing areas. Despite the weather, I did very well on the bike leg, finishing in 2:27 with an average speed over 23 mph, which is 1 mph faster than my average speed at 70.3 Chattanooga earlier this year.
I knew the best part of this race was going to be the run because the course was on the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk. After docking my bike in transition, it was a struggle putting on my running socks and shoes because my feet were soaked. I felt pretty good once I started to run, but struggled getting my energy gels into the back of my running jersey. I think my pink sneakers were a nice backdrop to the cloudy, dark weather. Running on the boardwalk was a blast. One of the best parts was on the south end, where we ran onto a fishing pier that went straight out into the ocean. It felt like you were running on water.
I started the first few miles too fast and began feeling the effects at mile six, which was only halfway. In hindsight, I should have kept my pace at 7:00/mile instead of 6:40-6:50 for the first six miles. The best part of the course was the last few miles near the casinos, where there were a decent amount of spectators in spite of the inclement weather. Along the route, I saw two USMES teammates and gave them words of encouragement. One was from the Coast Guard and one was from the Marines.
It was a huge sigh of relief when I had the finish line in my sights. The announcer called out my name as I ran down the red carpet and became a three time 70.3 Ironman Finisher!