I DID IT I DID IT!!!
Eight months after my first marathon I took on my 8th half marathon. It was my fourth consecutive Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon. Three years ago this race was my first ever half, and I ran it in something like 2 hours and 17 minutes. Last year, well I don't even know if that counts... I was recovering from being hurt (IT band) and trying to continue marathon training at the same time. I registered for the 5K but when the 5K/half split came, I chose the half. I then proceeded to make it a 10 mile run, not 13.1, but with my horrible sense of direction in Atlanta, yes I grew up there, I managed to get lost and run about 12 miles. Anyways... Since my marathon I have continued running and racing, but have not been able to get a PR. The Peachtree Road Race was just way too hot, and I was not prepared for the hills. I was very frustrated with my finish there, and since then I've been pushing myself harder.
I started running with one of my friends in a local running group. Talk about accountability?! Up at 6AM every Saturday morning. The truth is though, I love that. Then, I met and made another friend in the running group. And she pushes me, hard. She made me realize that I was capable of running better, faster, longer. So when I signed myself up for the 2 hour pace group at the expo this past Wednesday, I wasn't really sure if I could do it. But then I heard her telling me to. My previous PR is 2:03:26. So my goal for this race was to beat that, and my ambitious goal was to get under two hours. This has been a goal for a while but I really wasn't sure if it would be possible in the near future. After running with my new partners I knew I was capable. I was really more confident Mentally than Physically.
Clothes laid out the night before. 2 hour pace sign is pinned on back of my shirt.
So here's my recap...
Dad and I headed towards Turner Field around 6:15AM Thanksgiving morning, leaving Mom at home to prepare the feast! It was a bit chilly, but we knew as soon as the sun came up it wouldn't be very cold. We were right. While I found warmth in the port-o-potty pre-race, I shed my throw away before I began and was extremely comfortable in my long sleeved shirt and compression tights. The sun was pelting down the whole time, but I think it gave me energy more than a heat stroke.
I crossed the starting line with the two hour pace group just in front of me. The group was going to run roughly 9:10 miles. I knew my best bet would be simply- run as fast as you can. I know negative splits are the way to go, but I knew to get my goal I just needed to RUN. So I pressed start on the Garmin and my iPod and set off. But my iPod didn't work. Total failure after making a MAGNIFICENT playlist. That which was "Thanksgiving 2011" became "Ride back to Charlotte 2011." It was dead! This has never happened to me before and I thought surely my race was done, but it was NOT! I again thank my running partners as running with them had made me used to running without music. I had all intentions of talking to (woo-ing) others during the race, but I think I was running too fast to do that. I will admit I sang in my head a good bit, not sure what but "Get Low" was definitely one. (Still stuck in my head from Bday Party Bus 2011.)
I complete Mile 1 in 8:59. Pretty solid! Fast, but not too fast.
Mile 2- 8:47 Past Olympic Park. It was all decorated for Christmas and I really wanted to go through it, but unfortunately that's not part of the course.
Mile 3- 8:46 I think this is where I actually went ahead of the 2 hour pace group. PEACE OUT! Maybe not a good idea, but we'd see! This was also hands down my fastest 5k ever- somewhere around 27 minutes
Mile 4- 8:24 I don't think I've ever run a mile this fast in a race. I was just excited!!! My thought process was really, "Hey the faster I run now, the slower my miles can be at the end." Again I don't think that's how races are "supposed" to be run, but whatever. We were running over the interstate and I thought that meant we are at/past Atlantic station. Definitely not. Again, I never have any idea where I am when I'm in the ATL.
Mile 5- 8:44 Five miles in and still all under nine minutes. This was amazing... I guess I'll just keep running as fast as possible! And now I really am by Atlantic Station. I kept thinking, "Now I just have to go through a bit of Midtown, the Park, Auburn Ave and I'll be done!" That was making the race quite a bit shorter than it really was. I think my lack of never really knowing where I am keeps me moving and on my toes!
Mile 6- 9:05 My fastest 10k at 55:06 (fastest before was Peachtree two years ago at 55:26) I even heard someone say, "Hey you've finished the Peachtree!
Mile 7- 8:59 Ok good another one under nine minutes! But man I was getting tired. I could feel it in my hips. Of course the majority of the hills were yet to come...
Mile 8- 9:32 Oh My Hills... Pump the arms, Use those abs, Just DON'T walk. And I didn't!
Mile 9- 9:29 A negative split, wow! But oh man that pain in my right heel! I had a bandaid on one place where my shoes had been rubbing, but this was a different spot. I had a bandaid in my back pocket too. But to stop and put it on and waste valuable, crucial seconds?! Absolutely not. I pictured blood rushing from my food. Oh well... keep on running!
Mile 10- 9:31 Ok so still around 9:30. Using my math skills this evens me out somewhere near 9:10, so still on pace for 2 hours! We ran up and around Oakland Cemetery as a guy running near me kept yelling, "I see dead people!" This gave quite a few of us a laugh. I pumped the heck out of my arms to get me up a few more hills.
Mile 11- 9:37 I was getting warm. I had one glove on that hand was holding my other glove. My bare hand was munching on Honey Stingers, fruit punch flavored. I also owe this to my running partner who introduced me to them. Maybe they helped, I'd like to think they did. They also just taste delicious and DON'T get stuck in your teeth. I really was hoping to see my brother and hand him my gloved and head band. We were right by his house. But no brother...
Mile 12- 9:32 Another negative split after my slowest mile of the race. I was still on good pace overall and told myself to hustle! Less than one mile! I pictured myself at home being one mile from my apartment and just kept on running.
Mile 13- 9:16 No way! Another negative split! How do I have all this energy? All this power?! Maybe the honey stingers, or maybe I just never really knew my limit and how hard I could push myself until now...
Last 0.1- 8:08 Down right sprinting... Apparently I was running so fast I was too fast for the cameramen at the finish line. I was running with peace sign fingers and everything, but there's not picture :-(
So when it was all said and done I crossed the finish line nearly in tears. I couldn't believe I had done it. According to my garmin I ran 13.24 miles (stop weaving!) in 2 hours and 36 seconds, with an average pace of 9 min 7 sec miles. According to the race and the Atlanta Track Club, I ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours, 0 minutes, and 35 seconds. I didn't break 2 hours, but I have never been more confident than now that I can, and I can't wait to not try but to DO IT! I PR-ed for the first time since January of 2010 (2:03:26 in Phoenix, a super flat course.) I certainly "earned my turkey" and am still on quite a race high.
I woke up Friday all ready to shop til I dropped, but I almost dropped to the floor out of bed. My legs were wildly sore, but so were my abs, back, and upper arms. Talk about a full body work out. It hurt to laugh! Such a fantabulous feeling. I can't wait to feel it again...
Dad and I post-race. He did super well in the 5K!