November 23, 2018

The Atlanta Half Marathon (my 50th!)

It had been 900 days since my last half marathon.  That's 2 years, 5 months, and 17 days in case you were wondering (like me), just how long it had been since I had run over 10 miles in one consistent effort.  Spoiler alert -- I finished!  I now have 50 half marathon races in my log, which, frankly, I can't really believe.

Obligatory start selfie.
My "training" had been minimal, so I put any finish as my D goal.  My C goal was sub 12 minutes per mile.  My B goal was Sub 2:30.  My A goal was Sub 11 minutes per mile to beat my last half marathon time.

Met the C goal.
While I had a lack of training working against me, I had quite a few things on my side:

1. The weather was absolutely perfect, with a start in crisp clean 37F and a finish in the mid 40s.  The course was partially shaded, and there was no wind.

2. Since I was coming from a vacation in the Atlantic Time Zone, I was, for once, 1 hour ahead of the Eastern Time Zone, so getting up early and racing in Atlanta was not going to be difficult.

3. S, my Atlanta running buddy, had decided to register for the race, and when I went to pick up my bib from her, she informed me that she was going to do the race with me instead of at her own pace (which is probably 2 minutes faster per mile than me).

Me and S -- we were going to have fun,
no matter what!

My father-in-law drove me to the start, and I was surprised to realize this race was much bigger than I remembered (5,781 in the half, 3,439 in the 5K).  They started the 5K at roughly 7:30 and were supposed to move through the wave start of the 5K and then the half in order to get to our corral by 7:57, but something must have slowed them down, for though I was at the front of my corral, I didn't cross the start line until 8:04:03.  This was very unlike the Atlanta Track Club, as every race I've run with them has been extremely precise.

They slated me for corral E, so S and I
spent the whole race passing people.

The course starts near the Olympic Torch and rings from the 1996 (100th) Summer Olympics, and runs near and around a bunch of Atlanta sights including Centennial Park, Atlantic Station, Piedmont Park, the State Capitol, and includes a finish in Georgia State Stadium.  At least half of the course was shaded, so even if it had been slightly warmer, it still would have been very pleasant for me.  Also, Atlanta Track Club knows how to keep folks hydrated, so there were tons of aid stations, *and* since Atlanta is Coca Cola town, Powerade, with delicious real calories, was offered at every aid station.

Atlanta is *hilly*.  And while I was generally undertrained, I was severely under-hill-trained.  I'm a natural downhill runner, which made parts of this course quite fun.  But, I also struggle with uphills.  I'd done a few hill repeats at the Stanford Dish in my lead-up, and one very hilly workout in Atlanta.  I also pushed myself on one hilly treadmill workout in Aruba that oscillated between 0 and 4% incline on a random algorithm.  Those 3 workouts weren't a ton, but I was *very* glad I'd done them, especially the 2 workouts in the "taper" weeks before the race.  Leaning forward and pumping your arms and knees to charge up hills to keep running is a very different type of running than what I'm used to, and I could feel my body changing form to mimic the way those workouts felt during the uphills.

My garmin totaled 507 feet of climb and 565 feet of descent, including a screaming 135 feet of descent over the last 1.17 miles.  If they finish the Olympic Trials down this hill and into the stadium, that could result in some crazy finishing sprints!  Unfortunately, after 10 miles, I hit a pretty significant wall, and had to declare defeat and take some uphill walk breaks to catch my breath.

Stopping for a picture of the skyline at the top
of the steep climb at Mile 10

My splits tell a tale of undertrained bonking:
1 - 10:26
2 - 10:43
3 - 11:06
4 - 10:37
5 - 11:23
6 - 11:19
10K - 1:09:15 (11:09 pace)
6 to 6.37 - @11:46
6.37 - 6.42 walk/3:22 bathroom break in Piedmont park
7.42 - 11:22
8.42 - 12:25 (includes cliff shot walk break)
9.42 - 11:21
9.42 to 9.69 - @10:51
9.69 to 9.76 - walk
10.76 - 12:04
10.76 to 11.18 - @11:45
11.18 to 11.26 - walk
11.26 to 11.72 - @12:20
11.72 to 11.77 - walk
11.77 to 12.09 - @12:09
12.09 to 12.15 - walk
13.15 - 10:55
13.15 to 13.35 - @10:39

Garmin total: 13.35 @ 11:41

Average pace with the bathroom break subtracted: 11:28

Atlanta Track Club has good schwag!

I am very happy with the fun day spent with S and the C goal finish and I'm definitely looking forward to the shorter stuff I have on the calendar for the rest of 2018.  Also, I'm very excited to come back to spectate (and possibly race one of the companion races of) the US Olympic Team Marathon Trials!


Angela said...

Nice job! That looks *extremely* hilly!

bt said...

@Angela -- Seriously. My sister-in-law informed me that, "It's so hilly here!" is my refrain every time I race here...

Jen said...

Congrats on HM #50!

bt said...

@Jen -- Thanks!

Arvay said...

Awesome! Your heat tolerance is amazing!

bt said...

@Arvay -- you crack me up!

Unknown said...

WOW! Congrats!!

bt said...

@Fio -- Thanks!