This past Sunday morning was a great day to run a half marathon, or any race as far as that goes. I was really looking forward to this race as I mentioned in my last post. There are many reasons for this, with the two top reasons being:
- It was my second half marathon (following a long 18 month delay)
- It is also a training run leading up to my full marathon next month
Race preparations started on Saturday with me trying to eat right and drinking lots of fluids. I tried all day but didn't really get the eating right till dinner time when my wife made me a grilled chicken/pasta dish from scratch. We really didn't plan all that well but she still came through with a winning combination... as always! I finished the evening out with a small whole wheat bagel with crunchy peanut butter, one of my favorite bedtime snacks.
As evening hastened I decided I would get everything laid out and ready so I wouldn't have to deal with it in the morning.... the morning would come too early the way it was. I decided what I would wear (sorry ladies.... wasn't too difficult for me) and attached my bib to the shirt. I laid out the rest of the cloths, socks, and shoes with the chip attached, as well as my fully charged MyTach GPS watch, cell phone with arm band, ID, sport beans, and a little bit of cash. I also went ahead and set the bagels out so I wouldn't forget to eat in the morning as I rushed around.
Even though I am used to getting up before 4:30 many days throughout the week the 4:30 wakeup still came very early, especially following a rough nights sleep. I never sleep well before a race, I toss and turn a lot from the excitement,
anticipation, and nervousness. I got dressed, applied some Aquaphor Healing Ointment that I was given some time ago to all the right places to try and keep the chafing away..... I didn't want to have the unpleasant color change to my shirt like I did in my first Half Marathon.
My neighbors met me shortly after 5:00 am for the trip to Atlanta. As you can imagine at 5:00 am on Sunday morning the trip was quick and easy. We arrived at a Marta station about 1 mile from the start/finish line and used the mile to warm up the legs a bit before the race. We arrived in plenty of time and had some time to wander around and get a warm-up run in. The weather was wonderful, it was a little humid and 53 degrees.
Official gun time was 7:13 so shortly after 7:00 they started calling for us to line up in the starting shoot. They had time slots marked for anticipated finish time to help everyone line up in some kind of order. We lined up directly under the 1:50 sign with high hopes and anticipation. I knew I needed to run 7.1 mph according to my watch to hit my goal of sub 1:50, around a 8:23 pace. Right before the race began they started bringing us forward and I was worried that I was now going to have to run a 1:20 half marathon as I was now under that sign :)
7:13...er 14...er 15! came and the race was off. It took me around 20 seconds to cross the starting line. We were on our way and it felt great! we made a turn out on to the main road (Peachtree) and looped back. This is when we saw just how many people were running the race (close to 3,000) We were running past the starting line, but just on the other side of the fence.
As we neared our first turn, just a short couple hundred yards we saw a runner go down in front of us. This brings back some bad memories for me. It wasn't too long after this that I left my neighbor and started running my own race. After a couple miles I looked down at my pace and I was running quite a bit faster than I had planned with a first mile just over 8 min and the second mile around 7:45. I felt good and was getting into my groove so I decided I would run based on how I felt and not worry about the pace unless I started to notice too much of a swing either way.
We ran a loop through a couple neighborhoods and past a golf course. There were some really nice homes and some young families out to cheer us on. We had some hills that were challenging in this part of the race, but nothing like we were going to see later.
It wasn't too long before we were back out onto Peachtree to head to the second loop a few miles up the road. We came past the starting line at about 5 1/2 miles with the best part still to come! This was the point we started seeing a few more of the promised bands playing along side of the road.
We were coming up on the 10k mark and I noted based on the clock at the 6 mile mark and what my watch said that I had run the first 10k at a sub 50 pace (a good Peachtree Qualifier for those familiar with the Peachtree Road Race) and I still had more than half way to go. The half way point came and to my surprise they had a mat to read the chips (my time 51:50). I have never seen this before. I looked at my pace and I was running about 7.5 mph. I was still feeling good so I kept running at the pace I had for the first half.
The second loop took us through a couple more neighborhoods with bigger and more hills. It was getting tougher to keep the pace I was running, but still not so much that I was breathing too heavily. I was waiting for the 9th mile because according to the elevation chart the biggest hill was in mile 9. I knew once we passed that the worst hills would be over. Once we passed through the neighborhoods they funneled us off into a park where we ran the sidewalk trail through a wooded area and around a couple soccer fields. It wasn't too long till we were leaving the park with the welcome sign that said "only a 5k left!"
Before too long we were back on Peachtree and in the home stretch. Just around 2 miles left and I was ready to die. I wanted so badly to give in and walk for a little bit, but based on my pace and the current time I knew I had a chance to break 1:45 and I would never forgive myself for coming so close and not making it. The final 1 mile was coming up and I was able to pull past one more lady that I had been following for the past mile. We came back to the starting point and to our delight we had to run down a long hill and then finish on an uphill.
I was coming up the hill approaching the finish and knew it would be really close to the sub 1:45 I was now hoping for. As I got nearer I could see the official clock time as it ticked over to 1:45.
I knew I had somewhere around 20 seconds to cross that finish line..... 10.... 11... 12.... 13..... 14....
and 15 as I crossed the finish line! I stopped my watch as I crossed the timing mat and looked down at my watch to see 1:44:53.... I HAD DID IT!!!!!
For a brief second I felt dizzy but quickly gained composure as I grabbed my medal, water, and a banana. They had a lot of food in the finish shoot, but I couldn't hold any more. I walked out and started to cool off and enjoy the moment as I refueled. I went back to get a bagel and a little later they had a BBQ sandwich for the finishers. I was a little irritated because they had no other water or Gatorade other than what was in the finish shoot.
We hung around a little bit and got our official chip time and rankings. According to the stats I officially finished in 1:44:53 - Officially Sub 1:45! An 8:01 pace!
264th Overall (out of 2600)
53rd Age group (35-39) (out of 251)
12th 39 year old (out of 122)
208th Gender Place (out of 1148)
These splits are based on my MyTach GPS watch but it seemed to beep just before every mile marker and got a little further each time. It showed the course was 13.2. I am not 100% on the accuracy considering that. Not sure why, it always seems to be really consistent any other time.
Mile 1 8:14 8:14
Mile 2 7:43 15:57
Mile 3 7:50 23:47
Mile 4 7:36 31:23
Mile 5 8:01 39:24
Mile 6 8:11 47:35 (+ .2 would still be sub 50 10k)
Mile 7 8:02 55:37
Mile 8 7:50 1:03:27
Mile 9 8:02 1:11:29
Mile 10 7:54 1:19:23
Mile 11 8:07 1:27:30
Mile 12 7:50 1:35:20
Mile 13 7:37 1:42:57
.2 1:57 1:44:54 (GPS Registered as .2)
There are not yet any pictures available, but once there are I will update the post with a few pics.
I took Monday off, my legs were still hurting quite a bit, but Tuesday I went out for a 5 miler. I plan on getting up bright and early for a 10 miler tomorrow..... if I can drag myself out of bed after staying up too late to finish this race report.