Thursday I headed out for one last run, a quick 5K. Afterward, I headed to DePalma's, a Italian place down the road. I had a gift card from Christmas to use and figured that was the perfect opportunity to pig out! Mmmm... a little awkward, being the only one in the whole restaurant that was there by yourself. Normally I don't mind, but I was a little self-conscious that day!
|Tri-color penne & garlic bread. Deeeelish.|
I went down with Heather (who was running her first 5K ever!) and Katherine (a very, very experienced runner who was running the 5K with HP) on Saturday early afternoon. Callaway Gardens is in Pine Mountain, which is about an hour and a half southwest of Atlanta, almost near the Alabama border. It's an absolutely gorgeous area, full of pine trees and greenery, even in the dead of winter. I was excited, knowing that surely a race through a south Georgia botanical garden was going to be stunning.
We went straight to Callaway Gardens before the hotel so we could get checked into our races - there was just a giant circus tent set up. Having no idea what to expect, I thought "Sweet! Semi-real expo!"... wrong. There were two or three vendors, in addition to the race check-in tables and chip distribution.
|I did like, however, that the circus tent was decked out in twinkling lights!|
|Robin Lake at Callaway Gardens. Beautiful.|
|Get it? ;)|
After checking in to our races, we made way to LaGrange, where we were staying. Rooms on property were like $100, but we had ourselves a good deal at the Hampton Inn out in LaGrange. It was 16 miles or so from Callaway, but well worth our time, and really hardly a twenty-minute drive. After checking in around 5, we went to downtown LaGrange to find something for dinner. We found the adorable downtown area, typical small-town main street with some cute stores and restaurants. We at the Brickhouse Grille, super cute Applebees-esque restaurant with some delicious grub! Afterwards, we walked around downtown a little bit, found the main square and this gorgeous fountain.
And then... it was back to the hotel and nearly bed time! We settled in, got our race day outfits ready to go (you know you're girls when you bring 3 or 4 options!), and settled in for some reading (kind of) and got hooked on a Locked Up: Raw marathon (fascinating stuff!). We settled for bed around 10, with a bright 'n early alarm set for 5:45 am (and 6, for the real okay-it's-time-to-get-up call).
|Race day! I guess I have a recent affinity for lime green - shoes, headphones, tshirt, back up socks...|
|As if I could forget!|
|Heather and Katherine before heading out into the bitter cold.|
|Sorority sister and virtual running buddy. :)|
|All three of us!|
|Heather's ready to go! Go HP!|
- Mile 6: As forewarned by the RD, Mile 6 brought about a few hills ("it'll test ya, but it won't kill ya"). Sure enough, right around the beginning of mile 6, those rolling hills came in. I took it upon myself to take my first walk brake (proud I made it to 6!) and take in some Jelly Bellys and water at the aid station, and slowly made the trek up and down the hills. Whew! RD wasn't kidding.
- Mile 7-8: I had just hit the Mile 7 marker when the leading marathoner double-backed (holy cow!). I was smack in the middle of these rolling hills, just direly waiting for the turnaround - this is definitely where the run was hitting me. Marathoner after marathoner passed, and somewhere in the 7.75 range the first halfers were coming back, I knew I was almost there! The double-back was just about mile 8 and I beamed, knowing I was more than halfway there! Excitement!
- Mile 9-10: Again, nothing super special about these. Daniel and I started playing tag again - I had passed him for a bit just after mile 10 and he had finally caught up. We talked about running goals (mine? 2:20. His? Just to finish; "if you run so quick you can't enjoy it, what's the point?" Brilliant! Haha), running documentaries he watches before every race for inspiration, and how brutal those 6-9 mile hills were. And lo and behold, before I knew it, we were near the 11-mile marker.
- Miles 11-12: It was around the 11 marker than my left hip actually started hurting - a new sensation, given that I was only used to my knees hurting before. Just after Mile 10, we turned off the roadway of the park to the walking/biking trails where it was a little more meant for 2 people running side-by-side instead of 4 or 5 across; I liked the thinner trails better, it allowed for a little more me time as I began to process the fact that I was almost done. Almost done, oh my god! Daniel and I met up again about Mile 12; I was just about at 2:08 and realized I was more than likely bound to making my 2:20 goal! We took off on a good pace, after I stopped for a few seconds to stretch and make sure my hips wouldn't kill me toward the end.
- Mile 13: I was there! About 12.8 or so, Katherine had run the back end of the trail to see where I was and meet up with me for my last stretch - her and Heather had been watching their watches, knowing what my goal was, and keeping a close eye out. Loved Katherine for coming back for me! We talked about her and Heather's 5K, did Heather make her goal (37:30 -- they did! 36:19), how was I feeling, and how freaking much farther did I have to go? ("Up the slight incline, down the hill, around the turn, you're there!" Coming down the incline, I told Katherine that once I was down the hill, I'd sprint to the finish (a solid 70 yards), in true soccer player fashion. And boy did I take off!
|I'm in the lime - sprint to the finish.|
|I did it! Happy half-marathoner!|
|Breakfast of champi -- wait, half-marathoners! Yum.|
Race results posted today and I am excited to say I MADE MY GOAL!
Read that, oh yes! 2:19:52 - told you I'd cut it close! 8 seconds to spare, but I made that goal! So excited! I finished 278th overall of 423, which I would consider not too shabby! Holy moly - I did it. I'm a half-marathoner, I did my race, I ran 95% of it, I finished strong, I made my goal, I did it. I did it. Those words are so great to see in print and to be able to say aloud: "I did it."
On to the next one. Yep, I'm hooked.