Publix Georgia Half Marathon | March 17
I tell ya what, after working 5+ hours at a race expo, a 5 am alarm comes really early in the morning - not that it isn't early anyway, but when your 6 hours of sleep the night before a race is the most you've had in three days... it's early. Heather and I were up and out the door by 5:30 to get to downtown Atlanta, parked and to the race start area in Centennial Park by 6:15 or so. Surprisingly, parking wasn't chaotic, as we parked in a little side lot for $10 not even a block from the park - success! After finding gear check and volunteer check in (side note: Jayne, the volunteer coordinator, had rescued my brand new Under Armour fleece jacket and it was promised she would have it there this morning; all I had to do was pick it up after the race), we found our sorority sisters - so many of us! Brandi was running the half, Heather and I the half, Liz was running her first full and Jessica her third full. So many OPA-powered runners! Love these ladies and connecting over running, fitness, and the ins and outs of runner life.
It noted online to be in your corral by 6:50 am. I have no idea what time we headed towards the corrals, but they were a total cluster. I was assigned to corral K, but after passing corral G, I saw no signs and the back-up of people was completely overwhelming. I found somewhere to hop into a corral where I saw lots of Is and Js, and given that the herd of people had already started moving, just stood off to the side until I saw a few more Ks pop up - ultimately, I figured it didn't matter where I started, given the chip-time, but I wanted to at least make it through with some peers who were about my time range (mind you, I didn't even see any pace groups for a good while in the corrals!).
The night before, Heather asked if I had wanted to hang back and run with her or if I planned on actually racing. Even the morning of, I still wasn't sure. I wasn't feel my best, and still coming out of marathon recovery (my longest run had been the Taste 10K, and a few other runs 5-6 miles each). I figured I'd just start and see how things went, and if I feel into a groove, awesome; if not, I'd just finish with what I thought made sense. This course is no joke and certainly proves that even if you think you know Atlanta hills, they'll show you that you don't.
I started out, feeling like I was just trotting along for the first few miles. The course is a great one, taking you through some major Atlanta attractions and points of interest. The race starts in Centennial Park, centerpiece to the downtown blocks that make up the Georgia Aquarium, CNN Center, and the World of Coke. Almost immediately into the race, you're on Georgia State's campus in downtown, followed shortly by the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Site, and eventually the Carter Library and Museum, through the beautiful Virginia Highlands, a stint in Piedmont Park, through downtown, Georgia Tech, and back into downtown. If you're a non-Atlanta runner, this is an amazing course that really highlights Atlanta and all it has to offer. If I weren't in the city as often as I am, I would be pleasantly happy with what scenery the course had along the way - I was more excited that I ran by landmarks that I actually recognized and that I at least semi-sort-of knew where I was!
|Running through Piedmont. Always my favorite.|
Some of the great things about this course, especially if you're a regular Atlanta runner, is that about 70% of the half marathon course is covered by other races. The Color Run, Hot Chocolate 15K and Peachtree all have snippets (mostly in reverse, compared to today's course) along this path, so it helped that I knew where I was and what hills I was about to head into. Familiar territory is always nice in a race day environment!
I didn't fall into a real 'groove' until almost mile 7, and had already taken two walk breaks by then, which is fairly non-characteristic for me, but again, wasn't sure I was actually racing this. At that point, I realized if I pushed just a little more, I could at least ball-park near my half PR, which I would be more than ecstatic with. At mile 9, I felt myself waning faster than normal, and decided to just keep pushing as best as I could. At 12, I just wanted to be done - as evident by those splits. It wasn't until probably a quarter into that last full mile that I actually felt like I was able to run the rest of the way in - considering I normally sprint the last entire half mile, this was rough.
Brandi's mom was waiting for me at the finish line (she'd been tracking us all via text), but she said I must've ran the last mile so fast, she wasn't ready for me! Oh well.
|At least I don't look like I'm dying! Mile 12.|
|Half marathon #8 - done and done!|
Final time: 2:18:20
47.57% age grade
I went and retrieved my oodles of belongings (jacket at volunteer check in, food bag by Publix, gear check), and met up with Brandi's mom and dad to wait for Brandi and Heather to finish. Heather and Brandi had met up at some point and were finishing the race together - the plus to running with cell phones, though I know a lot of folks don't like to. After Heather and Brandi came through their sprinting finish (3:16), we hung out in the park for awhile, met some new friends, stretched, and relaxed. About the time we knew Liz would coming towards the finish, we made our way back to the finish line, cheering folks in for both the half and full. It never fails to get me to see folks crying their way into the finish, having finished their first half, or majorly PRed, or swooping up their toddler to carry them in with them. Emotional. Wreck. <-- that's me
|How fun are the medals though, for reals?|
We got to see Liz come through, looking great coming into her moment of glory! Never forget how that feels girl, you earned it! Congratulations on joining the 1% club! Heather and I then had to blitz off and head back to Piedmont for a little kickball action - seriously. We "stretched" out and played an hour's worth of kickball to end our fitness-filled day. We're dumb sometimes. But it was fun.
|And with views like this, why not?|
And there you have. Half marathon #8 in the books, race #5 of 2013, and a great day in the pocket. KT tape review to come in on Friday, given that this sucker got a little longer than I intended!
Did you race on St. Patrick's Day? Are you an all-green sort of runner, or do you never dress in theme?