Saturday, December 1, 2012

Race Report: Inaugural Walton County Half Marathon

Inaugural Walton County Half Marathon
December 1, 2012 | Monroe, GA

If you follow me on Daily Mile, you know how this race went down. If you want to ready on anyway, awesome, thanks!

Walton County has apparently done a race series all year - I just found out about the half on Active about two weeks ago. I forgot about it (sort of), and then re-discovered it earlier this week while I was looking through a listing of local Christmas races (my favorite). I figured that since I had 16 miles scheduled for today anyway, what better way to get them done than to run 13.1 of them in a race and then only have to suffer run 3 miles on my own? Sold. Better yet, late/race-day registration was still only $40 - hooray for small, local races!

This morning almost felt off - I slowly rolled out of bed at 7:25 (hooray 9 am gun times!), made my pre-race ritual breakfast (half peanut butter sandwich and a banana), got dressed, schlepped all my stuff to the car and hit the road. I was at the elementary school where the race started by 8:30, registered, and made my way back to the car to actually get all my stuff together. The morning was perfect - given that mornings this week have been around 30 degrees, it was already 42 by the time I had left Athens! Gorgeous, gorgeous day. I couldn't tell you how many people ran this race (yet), but I was surprised to see the parking lot was as full as it was - maybe a couple hundred folks? I wasn't sure if I was going to experiment with these intervals I've been doing lately on this race, or if I wanted to go all-out for as long as I could, and figured I wouldn't really decided until I got moving.

 About 5 til gun time, we were asked to make our way to the start line, which was awkwardly about 20 yards down the main road from the driveway to the school - why not just start at the school? The start line got a few chuckles from some runners; I've run a number of Classic Race Services events (Athens-based timing company), and my only annoyance is that while I understand their races aren't chip-timed, they then give every runner the same gun time, whether you're the pro at the start of the pack or the lady who walks the whole race that starts way in the back. Thank goodness I have that Garmin now! That annoyance aside...

I ended up starting with 3-1 intervals. I felt like now is a great time to experiment with them, especially in a race environment and not just on my long runs by myself, and to figure out what times will actually work for me. I'm really excited about how well they worked with me today -- check them out. Almost all perfectly in tune, pace-wise for both walks and runs:

How's that for totally in tune?
About Mile 5 or so, a lady passed me by a bit and asked what sort of intervals I was doing, and when I answered "3-1" she says "Cool!" I invited her to run/walk with me and she laughed and said "No, I just gotta keep up with you!" Not even a half mile later, she was at my side, and stuck with me the whole way! Marianne, I learned, was running her seventh half, her PR was 2:14 and her goal for today was to just beat that. I promised her that if she stuck with me, she'd beat that by a bit. So she did! She just ran her first full at Savannah, prefers hills to flat runs (um, what?), and was a great running buddy today. She constantly reminded me that I was "killing her" but I would remind her that she'd kill her PR in the end and then she'd thank me. Nothing like a little coaching to get someone through - I had fun pacing her today. Made me feel like I had more to prove too!
Taken on my drive in, but we ran down this road. So pretty!
I can honestly say I didn't feel tired or hit a wall of any kind until about Mile 11 (intervals, FTW). I knew we were getting slower, but I was still moving just fine and wanted to keep with it. This course IS mostly flat, as you see above, but had just enough rolling hills to make you feel like you were doing work. Felt that after a little while! The countryside, however, is gorgeous, and even if you just run for the scenery, this race is well worth it.

Marianne and I hit 12.4 miles at just about the 2-hour mark - I had told her that if we stuck to our 9:30-9:40 run paces, we'd hit around 2:05. Realizing that 2:05 would be a really hard push at this point, I assured her before 2:10 and still a solid PR for her! We pushed on, running nearly the entire stretch and foregoing our last interval. I managed one last little surge and finished at 2:09:10 - a 49-second new shiny December PR for me, and Marianne was not far behind, about 2:09:30, nearly a four-minute PR for her!

New friend Marianne! Congrats on your PR lady!
She had a friend waiting at the end, who she promptly told that I was trying to kill her - and her friend thanked me for pushing her the whole way! Haha, all in good fun. After walking in circles to find water and bananas, I grabbed my race card and headed towards the postings board - and was SHOCKED to see this once my card went up:
Are you kidding me right now?
Do you see what I see?! I walked up to the table, filled out my card, and realized there was no other card yet posted when the woman took my card. I could have sworn someone was playing a joke on me - me? First in my age group? What the what? I did a little dance, talked to the race director for a minute, and happily took my age-group place medal from the side table (no awards ceremony, womp womp).

Holy crap, age group winner!

I hung out a little while longer, but wanted to head home before I passed out on the grass in front of the school. Not to mention that I had another 3 miles to run when I got home to get to my 16 miles for the day. Got re-settled and stretched out in the car, drove the 35 minutes back home, and headed out to finish the miles before I even let myself walk upstairs (best move of the day on my part). I shuffled my way through 2.98 more miles, putting me at 16.1 for the day and a happy start to December!

Inaugural Walton County Half Marathon
New PR: 2:09:10
1st in Age Group
Not too shabby.
Today's runs also culminate in the highest-ever weekly mileage for me, but that's to come on my week recap tomorrow! 
Race Review
  • Beautiful course - if you're looking for scenery, this is it
  • Mostly flat, few rolling hills to challenge you just a bit
  • Small, local race - sometimes a nice change from the 5000+ large races in Atlanta
  • Medals! In my experience, most local races don't do finisher awards of any kind, and I surely wasn't expecting them, so was pleasantly surprised
  • Bummed they didn't do awards ceremony (not sure why not)
  • Awkward start line - consider moving back towards the school, not off on the road
  • Great volunteers and local supporters!
  • Inexpensive - always a plus. Regular registration was $35, late/race-day reg was still only $40
All in all, great race experience day. Thanks Walton County!

Did you race today? How'd you do?



  1. Congratulations on that new PR Girl!I have never been first in my age group so I am jealous!

    1. Thank you so much! I had semi-expected that 5K AG win, but the thought of a half marathon AG win? Even at a small local race? Never would have crossed my mind!

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

  2. wow! great running day:) congrats on the new pr!

    1. Great running day indeed! :) And thanks! Not quite Ms. Speedy like you've become, but I WILL hit that sub-2 in 2013. Swear by it.