Monday, October 8, 2012

Race Report: Allstate ATL 13.1

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.

The race kicked off at 7 am -- really freaking early, especially if you have an hour drive to the race. I was in bed promptly by 8:30, asleep by 9 and literally jumped out of bed when the alarm went off at 3:30 am. I got dressed, put on my hoodie and sweat pants over everything for the drive, ate my banana, made my peanut butter sandwich for the drive, and took off. I am not sure where other people are going at 3:50 am on a Sunday, but man! There were a lot more cars on the road than I think should have been. That's irrelevant. I got to the Town Brookhaven Publix about 5:10 -- and realized I could have probably slept for another hour, so I got a little grumpy at that revelation. I tried putting my seat back and sleeping for another half hour until Brandi (sorority sister!) and her family arrived, but the volunteers in the car next to me were apparently already totally pumped, so that failed miserable. I got my Pro Compression socks on (birthday present from my aunt!) and headed out to the pitch black semi lit park area to at least adjust to the cold -- the morning temps were in the low 50s, and it wasn't supposed to hit 60 until nearly 10 am.

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.

I headed out and felt myself struggling a bit through mile 1 -- just needed to get my head in the idea that yep, I'm running a half marathon without having even gone through a full cycle like I planned. I finished mile 1 somewhere just over a 10' pace, but didn't want to stress it, as I was just running to run. While the 5Kers start the race with the half marathoners, they split off from us just before mile 1 -- sucks for them, because at the mile 1 water station, there were jugglers! Seriously! I wish I had taken a second to grab a photo of them, so much fun! It was after here that I really settled into a groove!

 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!
We stretched, ate, found more food, and eventually split ways. An hour drive after a long morning kinda takes its toll on you! I made it home, showered, napped, putzed around (spent most of the afternoon on the couch), napped again, dog parked, and came home and was in bed at 8:30 pm. Also a fabulous feeling.

Race Pros
- 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

Race Cons
- 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?
 How'd your weekend races go? Anything to brag about?

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!


  1. Nice! PR's are always exciting and great confidence boosters. Keep working at it and it will get better and better!

    1. SUCH a confidence booster, let alone two in one weekend! A major rush and confidence builder as I head into full-marathon training for the first time! Thanks for the love and support! :)

  2. YAY!!! I am soooo proud of you and I am glad that we were there together and that mom & dad could cheer you on too! <3

    1. Thank you love! I am so glad you were there too! Hooray for winning race entries and hooray for awesome races! I'm super thankful your parents were there - thank them again for me! :) <3

  3. yay! great job girl! this is awesome! What a great PR! such an inspiration! (:

    1. Thanks Danielle! Pretty pumped about it myself! Hoping I can do some mad work at my next half in two weeks also!! :) WOO!

      Thanks for the blog love. :)

  4. Wow! Awesome job and congrats on the PR!

    1. Thank you! Super stoked! I love your blog -- new follower. :) Hooray!

  5. aaah congrats!!! You should be stoked! That's a great PR :)

    1. Thank you! I am so excited! Makes me more amped up for the next half (a week and a half from now)! Thanks for the love! :)