Saturday morning the Mr. and I set out on some errands around town before eating lunch at Chuy’s Tex Mex. I opted for the salad and it was delicious. I didn’t eat very much of the fried tortilla shell, but it was still super tasty. We then headed back home for a short nap and dropped Chloe Mae off at her dog daycare. Since the race was in Chatsworth and had an early start we decided to head up the night before and spend the night in North Georgia.
After about an hour and a half in the car and a large green tea later we arrived at the City Park to pick up our bibs. Nothing fancy here. Then we drove to Dalton where our hotel was and decided to grab an early dinner.
Pre race dinner was O’Charley’s peach chutney chicken, loaded baked potato and broccoli. I also ate a couple rolls and a slice of caramel pie 🙂 I usually always choose Chipotle as a pre race dinner, but this worked out fine.
I set out my gear and it was off to bed. My fueling strategy would be the same for this race. Nuun when I wake up then Tailwind during the event. Race morning came early and we made the drive (30 mins) to Chatsworth for the bus pick up. Since it’s a point to point race you park at the finish and they bus you up to the starting line. This was a small event with only about 370 people running the half marathon.
As I was waiting in line for a portajohn I learned from another runner that the race starts with a downhill stretch of 1.8 miles then runs the same course back up to the start line then back down again. Needless to say this was horrible news. I had thought the entire race would be downhill, but I was determined to not let it change my race plan or strategy.
The Run Down
Soon the race started and I was quite surprised by the number of small rolling hills at the beginning, but my paces were decent (11:33, 11:20). I wanted to let my legs warm up and know that I always run better when I try to make up time at the end versus the other way around. Close to the 2nd mile mark we started the uphill climb back to the start. It was horrid. The hills were so steep that I don’t even think a lot of them were runnable. They actually reminded me of San Fran a little. Miles 3 and 4 were rough! My legs were taking a beating from the sharp downhill to the transition to the sharp uphill. I did the best I could and was determined to run what I could and walk what I needed to and stay safe.
Once we reached the top of the climb/start line my legs felt so tight. I even stopped and used a railing to stretch the back of my legs. Now that we were at the top we had to make that same downhill climb that we just did. It was really hard going from down to up to down again. I gave my body time to adjust knowing I still had 75% of the race ahead of me.
The first 6 miles were so weird and while a lot of them were “downhill” they also included some rolling hills. After the first 6 miles I finally felt like the downhill running started. This is where I was finally able to run the paces I trained for and the miles started to feel okay. My splits for miles 7,8, and 9 were 10:58, 10:23, 9:51.
Not too long after this I started to have some issues. My legs were cranking along and felt great, but my chest did not. Between all the tree pollen and my core being undertrained I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I got a couple side stitches and my ab muscles started to cramp. I have never had this happen in a race and it was so painful. I would walk, focus on my breathing, massage the muscles and it would go away for a bit. The pain didn’t stay away and kept coming back no matter how fast I was running. I decided to run as fast as I felt I could then walk then repeat. My left eye also felt like it had a grain of sand (probably pollen) in it so I was just super annoyed by this point. I threw away the goal to PR and wasn’t hopeful for my B goal either, but I was determined to see it through and try.
I kept taking walk breaks to manage the ab pain and text the Mr. when I was at mile 10 so he’d know when to expect me. He warned me that the last three miles were rough because it was the 5k course he had just finished. He wasn’t lying. I saw more steep hills on our way off the mountain and into the City and was over it. Even though my legs felt okay I think I was just so tired from the whole event. The first 6 miles of the course, the breathing issue and now all those hills were not only physically wearing, but my mind was so tired by this point. I opted to walk the sections of the hills that were steep and run the rest. I just wanted to finish.
I was so happy when I saw the finish line stretch and opened up for the last 100 feet or so. Apparently I ran this at a 9:15 pace. I guess I was just really happy to be done. Ha!
After crossing the finish line I almost walked off without my medal. It didn’t help that the volunteers couldn’t even be bothered to stand up to give them out. Rant.
All in all I’m proud of myself. It was a tough race and I finished in one piece. My finish time wasn’t my best, but it wasn’t even close to my worst so I’m okay with that. I would have altered my goals and training had I known about the first 6 ish miles of the course, but oh well. I would have loved a PR, but I just used this race as a test for the Edinburgh Marathon at the end of the month.
After the race the Mr. and I drove up the mountain to take some pictures then stumbled across this historic house built in 1804. Since there isn’t much other than fast food in Chatsworth we headed towards ATL to find some lunch.
We stopped along the interstate for some burgers at Chilis. The fries didn’t hit the spot so I ended up bringing them home, but the bacon cheese turkey burger was perfect! Naturally I wanted dessert too so I opted for this mini frozen custard concrete after.
This was a challenging race, but I didn’t really like the course. All the down, up and then down with steep hills at the bottom just wasn’t my jam. Even though the location is gorgeous and it’s close to Atlanta, I don’t think I will be doing it again. I was a little disappointed in the race experience, but I think that’s just because Revel hits it out the park when it comes to downhill running.
- Close the Atlanta metro area.
- Beautiful location. While Chatsworth doesn’t offer much Fort Mountain is stunning.
- The course. This is a challenging course so it’s great if you are looking to test your overall fitness.
- Shuttles to the start were on time and efficient.
- Finish line offered live music, BBQ, and other food, but didn’t have any drinks. (See below)
- The course. It’s marketed as a downhill race, and while a lot of the course is downhill a lot of it is far from it. I wish I would have known about the first 6 ish miles of the course. Some people said it was on the website, but it definitely wasn’t represented on the elevation chart. I’m not a huge fan of out and backs especially when they are like this.
- Limited water stops on course. I believe there were only 4? I didn’t use them because I had my handheld, but I overheard runners at the finish area say that multiple stations ran out of water. That’s unacceptable especially since this is Georgia, it’s April and the humidity never sleeps.
- No drinks at the finish. I finished in time to grab one of the last small (half normal size) water bottles, but others that finished after me didn’t have anything to drink at the finish. That’s unacceptable.
- Chatsworth is small so there aren’t a lot of lodging options if you want to stay close to the race.
- Finish medal and t shirt are hideous. I’m not being dramatic about this. They are so ugly.
- People felt it was acceptable to throw their fuel trash on the course even though the course was in the middle of the woods of a state park. Not related to the event, but unfortunate.
Have you ever had a similar race experience?
Does this sound like a course you would ever want to race?
What’s the ugliest race gear your ever received?