Monday, May 16, 2016

2016 Wildwood Half Marathon Race Recap

Wildwood, NJ

This was a race that has been on my radar for a few years, and I finally got the chance to run it yesterday morning.

I had planned to sleep in my car Saturday night, but when Tom from my running group heard I was racing as well, he let me know he had an extra room in his beach house and invited me to stay with him.  His entire family was coming down for the weekend, and several more runner friends came over Saturday night for beer, wine and pasta.

We were up on race morning at 5:30, and I made the short drive over to the starting area at 6:30 for a 7:30 start.  The sun had just come up, and it was a beautiful morning for a race.

Starting line at 7am

Parking cost me $5, but I was able to park about twenty feet from the start/finish, which is an amazing feat for a mid-sized race.  It also meant that I didn't have to worry about a bag check.

Also notable was the fact that a half hour before the race, there were still no lines for the porta potties:

If ever there was a case for doing smaller races, that's it right there.

The race had pacers starting at 7 minutes per mile and going all the way up to 11 or 12, and I placed myself next to the 8 minute pacer.  I hadn't really trained much for this, hadn't gone above 7 miles since last November, so I really had no idea how I would fare.  As is usually the case with non-goal races, my only goal was to enjoy the scenery and atmosphere and get in a decent run.  I thought 1:45 might be a reasonable guess as to my fitness level, so I went with that.

We started promptly at 7:30, and quickly ran onto the boardwalk for the first mile or so of the race.  The rest of the course went along the ocean and then out into the bay area, crossing a few bridges in the process.  The wind was fierce, the most intense I've ever experienced in a race, even worse than Philly last fall.  I usually count on at least a little wind when running down the shore, and as I said I wasn't going for a PR, so the wind didn't bother me too much.

At about mile 2; can you spot me in this picture?

I ran the first half of the race conservatively, not wanting to go out too hard in the beginning and completely bomb in the end.  I was feeling remarkably good in the second half of the race, so I started picking up the pace a bit, ultimately cartwheeling across the finish line in 1:33:18, which I thought might make a fun finisher's photo, but backfired as it resulted in a pretty epic crotch shot:

The after party was pretty sweet; there was plenty of food for participants, as well as free beer from the Cape May Brewing Company and several food trucks and a live band.

Tom and his wife Becky, my hosts for the night in Wildwood.

After hanging out for awhile, I took a picture of the medal, got a slice of boardwalk pizza to cap off the morning, then made the drive back to the other side of Jersey.

So, would I recommend this race to any other runners in the New Jersey/Philadelphia area? It turns out that's a loaded question.

Yes, I had a great time hanging out with friends, eating, drinking and of course running, and the race itself was fun and well-organized, but it also turns out the course may have been short by as much as a half mile.  I'll address this in my next post, but I can say now I'm afraid this error might be enough to keep me away from any future editions of this race.

Update: Here's the follow-up post on the fall out from the mis-measured course:

Why I won't be running the Wild Half again next year

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