I won this race entry two weeks ago (or so) and have been super excited about it since. Because the Athens Half Marathon is just two weeks after this, I had originally expressed my plan to go easy, just see what I can do, and just try and have fun with the race. Truth be told, after Saturday's 5K PR, I felt on the extreme runner's high and kind of wanted to go for more than that. Much like the 5K, if you follow me on Twitter, Daily Mile, or even Facebook or talk to me on a semi-regular basis, you know what really happened.
Brandi and her family arrived just about 6, where we went on to find the amazing, secret porta-potties (thank you amazing volunteer who shared your secret!), stretched, got the mandatory pre-race photos and hit gear check. This morning just went seamlessly - I walked straight to gear check, volunteers all over the place were chipper, friendly and helpful and didn't hesitate to ask if you needed something. Truth be told, I think so many of the volunteers really helped make this race for me!
|Brandi and I, bright 'n early.|
Near 7, we finally started to head into the (one, large) corral if you weren't a seeded runner (we're not). Remember, I was just going to run this race and see what I could do, especially since my longest run in any recent months has been just shy of 7 miles. I hopped in just behind the 2:20 pace team - I figured I could start there, see how far I could hang with them, and drop off as I needed. Brandi ran this last year, and warned me about the loooong, gradual hill at mile 6. Two girls I was listening to in the corral were saying that miles 8.5-11 were worst, so I wasn't sure which to go with. Figured I'd just run and find out! Brandi headed further back (she also won an entry to this race!) and was saving her legs for her mud run next weekend. 3... 2... 1... gun time! Our team crossed over just over 5 minutes after the gun. Important note: I had my music on the whole race, but especially in the beginning it was so loud I could hardly hear, let alone remember, that I had it on.
This course is absolutely gorgeous -- runs through Ashford area of Atlanta, early on through Oglethorpe University, and through the neighborhoods around Brookhaven and the golf course and parks in the area. Rolling hills that provided just enough challenge, but the scenery certainly made up for it as we trucked along.
Miles 2-4: Nothing exciting here. Settled into my groove, hit the 4-mile marker just shy of 40 minutes, so I knew I was doing better than I could have even thought! I had the realization that if I kept anywhere near the pace I was moving along at, I'd hit a PR 10K split - exciting! - considering this was a race I wasn't running for seriousness. I said to myself that if I could run solid through the 10K, I'd be allowed to pause and collect myself again.
Mile 6-7: I thought I slowed down about now, anticipating the hill Brandi warned me about, but I felt so good, I just wanted to keep moving! I hit the 10K split at 1:02:58 (a 1:14 PR) and was halfway up this apparent hill that I felt like I was just powering over! While I said I was going to pause here, I still felt way too great to slow it up.
Mile 8-10: The girls' comments from the corral were pretty accurate -- these high rolling hills were no joke! I did manage to plow ahead though, and found myself just ahead, and at times in the middle of, the 9:15 pace group. Um, hello! It was around Mile 10 that I finally stopped and walked for the first time -- I am super pumped and proud that I even made it that far into these hills before I paused. It was nearly Mile 11 when I realized that even if I speed-walked the rest, I'd have a PR, even if only by a minute or two. What a great feeling! Gotta tell you, it was the volunteers through these miles that kept me moving -- cheerleaders from a local high school, dance team from Clarke Atlanta, local fitness groups! So much fun, noisemakers, pom poms and lots of yells and motivation to give!
Mile 11-12: This is where my hamstrings started to catch up with me and those hills took their toll. Mile 12 was the hardest, mentally, above all, and where I started to feel the pain. My motto here was only Run through the pain, run through the pain, then you just can't feel it! Managed to truck it to just shy of Mile 12, which is the downhill of the Mile 6 uphill battle. Mile 12 was a run-walk combo, just trying to get myself through so I could book it in Mile 13 the rest of the downhill.
Mile 13: I tried so hard to keep moving at a good pace, but was stuck in this run-walk pattern. I just couldn't get my legs going again! I was tagging along next to a guy who seemed to be realllly struggling and I told him after the stoplight (30 yards away), we had to run to the end. He didn't seem to dig that idea, but I took off and made the best of it. Downhill, thank you course planners! Turned back into the shopping complex, on a steep downhill driveway, turned the corner and zoomed in, pumping my fist and beaming ear to ear. And, I admit it... my eyes watered. I did it! Without intending to run all that seriously, I just had a killer PR.
|That's 6:17 off my previous time! Hells yes!|
Did you read that?
That's 6:17 off my previous half marathon PR. HELLS YES.
So freaking pumped. THAT is what you call a runner's high! Brandi's parents found me, gave me the update on Brandi from her 10K split, and I went in search of the massages (I stood in line but gave up when hunger took over). Brandi finished just at 3 hours, happy to be done!
|Brandi's half #5, my #3!|
- AWESOME volunteers and course cheerleaders - couldn't have done this without them
- Challenging course, enough to push you, but not to kill you!
- Great post-race food & finish line plaza entertainment
- Sweet spinning medal!
- Super easy bag-check first thing in the morning and afterward
- That blasted hill at mile 6
- Super long lines for the massages - wish they had stayed longer or had more therapists available
- Tech shirts are generic for the whole 13.1 series, not just to Atlanta. Also fit super small!
I seriously can't believe this weekend -- 5K PR and a half-marathon PR without really intending. Awesome feeling, and it makes me even more excited for the Athens Half in two weeks. Those hills are significantly less brutal, and it's mostly rolling downhills, and I now know what I am totally, and completely, capable of. And that's the best feeling of all. Bring it on, Athens, bring it on!
|See that? That's my official time! ZOMG!|
|And who doesn't love a fun, spinning medal?|
PS. Would you take a hot second and go vote for mine and Brandi's photo? It's the very first photo there
(you'll recognize it from this post). Thank you!
PS. Another last thank you to The Running Teacher for being able to giveaway an entry so I could do this! So excited and so thankful!