If you’ve read this blog at all then you know I’ve been training since the end of August for the Atlanta Half Marathon. I was excited and nervous all week long leading up to the race. With everything that happened last year, I wasn’t sure if I would even been able to endurance race again so just completing the race was an incredible feat this year. I feel like a new woman and new runner now that my thyroid medication has been corrected. Running makes me feel alive again instead of making me feel worse.
I decided to only work a half day the day before Thanksgiving which was also the day before the race. The Mr. decided to take me to see Mockingjay: Part 1, I read all the Hunger Games books and have been dying to see the latest installment. For the sake of carb loading (giggles), I decided we should go to Great American Cookies and pick up a couple cookies to sneak into the theater. Movie theater prices never cease to amaze me….yea, we spent $4.75 on a bottle of water. We each got a slice of cookie cake and I somehow manages to fit them into my small(ish) Kate Spade purse.
The movie was AH-Mazing! I can’t wait for the final installment. Also, Jennifer Lawrence is the real deal folks. I knew I needed to make sure whatever I ate the night before the race was familiar food. With long runs especially, I try to steer clear of extra fiber, dairy and food that could give me tummy troubles. I decided Chipotle would be the perfect option! I really didn’t want to cook at home so this sounded even better. I ended up getting a burrito bowl with: brown rice, one scoop of black beans and sofritas, veggies, pico, a little cheese and guacamole. For those of you who haven’t tried the new tofu sofritas mixture, DO it! It is so delicious and packs a flavor punch. We brought our food home and I started working on my kick ass playlist for the race. (Will post later) I also wanted to lay out everything and get a shower the night before so I was ready to go the morning of the race.
Sorry for the blurry picture! I ate the Clif bar the morning of and took a couple gulps of the applesauce squeezer about 20 minutes before the race. The weather with the wind chill was in the low 30s so I was dressed perfectly with capris, a tee and a half zip pullover. It amazed me how many people were wearing wool scarves, cotton gloves and heavy jackets. Luckily, we only live about 20 minutes from the start/finish of the race. We woke up around 6am and were out the door by 6:45am. The first wave was at 7:30am, but I was in a corral further back so I didn’t start until 7:50am. With races and traffic you never know how long it will take to park or walk to the start line. It wasn’t too painful so us and we were right on time. I hit the port-a-potty (yes, very gross), took a couple gulps of the applesauce squeeze I packed, kissed the Mr. and waited in the corral. There is nothing like a couple selfies when you are a bundle of nerves.
The waiting is always the worst part. Bundles of nerves much? But thankfully we started right on time and I was happy to get running. The wind was pretty horrible though and got really bad between miles 8-11. I ate a date on miles 4, 6 and 8. I should have ate another one on mile 10, but didn’t feel like it during the race. I started struggling the second half of mile 11 because I didn’t date up on mile 10. I got a couple gulps of water down on miles 6 and 10, which was just enough to keep me from feeling sick.
Miles 1-7: I handled these like a champ. For the most, I was pacing really well and faster than I had in training. This worried me a bit, because I wanted to have more in the tank for the second half of the race. Especially because the hills would be the worst from mile 8 through to the finish. I got a little teary on mile 7 because I just felt so overwhelmed with thankfulness. Thankfulness for my health.
Miles 8-9: I was slower, but powered through the massive hill of mile 8 and made up a little time on mile 9. ABBA’s “Take a Chance on Me” got me through mile 9. I realized I needed to take a chance on myself and push through because I could do it.
Miles 10-11: These were probably the hardest miles for me. Emotionally I was on the fritz because I realized that my optimal goal of pulling a sub 2:30 was fading. My pace was slowing down and I was really feeling those hills. My pace was also slower than I ever wanted to see it. I was really worried about finishing strong and making it through the last two miles, knowing that section was the worst of the course.
Miles 11-12: I felt like I got a little burst of extra when I saw the sign for mile 11 and some locals were offering shots of rum and tequila to us runners and their handles of liquor were almost gone. I didn’t take one, but it made me proud of my city. I also listened to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” twice in a row to power through it. Every time I felt weak, I thought about Chicago. The Chicago Marathon is my goal for 2015. I thought about that race a lot and that there is no way I’m letting myself get in the way of me.
Miles 12+: This is where all the hills are! Just when you think you can see the finish line, there are about three massive hills in the last mile. I ran what I could and tried to conserve some energy for the big finish.
I did walk a couple hills after mile 9, for just a little bit. No matter how far I leaned forward, I still felt like there was no way I could have ran them all and ran to the finish. I hate that I walked a little, but I literally felt like I was going to fall backwards even with leaning so far forward. Also, from all the weaving along the course I ended up running nearly 13.5 miles instead of just 13.1 so I am proud of that too.
To date the Atlanta Half Marathon is still the only race I’ve done. I did it in 2012 and I did it this year too. The race is on Thanksgiving Day and the course is pretty awful to say the least. There are lots of turns and lots of hills. I would dare to say that about 8 miles of the course are just hills. I trained on hills, but I think I somehow forgot how horrible the ones on the course were. Some of them I even drive around the city, but I guess I didn’t think about it too much. The wind was also really bad the day of the race, so not only were you having to climb the hills but you were climbing them against the wind.
When I got close to the finish line I started looking for the Mr. Once I saw him I forgot all about my race goals and I was just thankful for my health and my husband. He was all smiles at the finish and got a couple shots of me at the finish line.
Here is my official time:
Half Split 1:06:54
Net Time 2:31:17
YES!!!!! I did it! I pulled out a PR! Even with all the wind and hills I still managed to do my very best. I am also pretty damn proud of that split time too! I managed to shave off 18 minutes from my time when I ran this race in 2012. I wanted to come in under 2:30, so I will take 2:31:17!
To be honest, I fully expected to blow my goal out of the water, but with the severity of the hills and all the head wind I am happy with the turnout. This wasn’t the PR I had expected, but I couldn’t have done very many things differently.
After the race, I talked to my sister on the phone to give her the recap and we were headed home. I took a really really hot shower and got ready to head to my in-laws. Luckily I made all my dishes the night before, so it was just a matter of getting everything together and getting out the door. I bought an Arden’s Garden blended recovery juice at the store the day before as a recovery drink. I drank that and lots of water. I even packed a massive 32 oz cup to take to Thanksgiving Dinner so I could make sure I was getting enough fluids. I put on some Nike tights and a long cozy sweater for ultimate comfort. Thanksgiving dinner was great, but I was happy to get back home and relax.
I will be taking it easy this weekend with the Mr. I just put a veggie alfredo pasta bake into the oven and we have a Godfather movie marathon planned. After all, I earned a break!
All in all, Thanksgiving was a huge success! I have so many things to be thankful for and so many amazing people to share in my blessings. I can’t wait to see where my race journey is headed and am so excited to get ready for the next one.