Monday, August 25, 2014

Race Recap: Hotlanta Half Marathon 8/24/14

I survived my 5th half marathon - or should I say 12.8 miler?? (More on that in a minute...)

In order to keep the rambling to a minimum, I'm organizing my thoughts into major buckets. (Organizing is just what I do!) But first, a brief description of the event, directly from the website:

Come see Atlanta from a whole new perspective. Never before has there been a race that speaks to the heart and heat of Atlanta, Georgia. HOTLANTA Half will take you on a journey of Atlanta icons. The course kicks off at Atlanta's Underground, winding your way through the city streets and onto the vista views of the city along the Belt Line. You will pass through historic Piedmont Park and pay homage to the Olympians, as you run by Centennial Park. Feast your eyes on the sun shining off the gold Georgia Capital as you make your way to victory to the finish back at Underground ATL. This is a world class event and finishers will be awarded the HOTLANTA Half medal, race shirt and SwagFest bag. Come and experience the city in a whole new perspective. Join us on August 24th for the inaugural run that will sure to be an instant classic and a time honored tradition for all Atlanta.

Packet Pickup & Pre-Race Swag
I loved the way the packet pickup was organized! Since it was a relatively small event, rather than having an expo, they had several designated packet pickup days at a different Big Peach Running Co. location each day. I don't exactly love crowds, so I thought this was great! I parked on the street by the Midtown location on Friday, walked in and picked up my packet and swag bag, and was back in the car in minutes.

Up early and ready to race!
The swag was pretty good, too. I didn't need to buy any Clif Shot Bloks because there were some in the bag - score! There were a few bars in there that I won't eat (they are glorified candy bars with more calories than a typical meal for me), and there were a few too many pieces of advertising in there, but the t-shirt totally made up for all of that! Women's fitted soft cotton tee - booyah!

Location & Getting There
The race started and finished at Underground Atlanta. I had never been there before, and I was a little worried about parking. I was pleasantly surprised when I pulled into a mostly empty lot right next to the start area and parked 1 space over from the exit. They hyped up the "lack" of event parking way too much, and public transportation ended up being much worse than just driving to the race. Score 1 for me! I zipped right out after the race. Lesson learned though - next time, bring a towel (or several) to sit on for the drive home! Needless to say I had to Febreeze the heck out of my driver's seat afterward...

Course & My Finish Time
This course was TOUGH! So.Many.Hills. It was 82 degrees at the start of the race too, which made those hills even tougher. On the upside, it was very scenic, taking runners along the Atlanta Beltline and through Piedmont Park.

I was running pretty strong from the get-go, exceeding my own expectations. This was good and bad - I was doing better than I expected, but I had probably started out too fast. My goal was to run it around 2:02:00 (about 3 minutes slower than my PR). I scored a free pace tattoo prior to the start for reference which reminded me along the way that I needed to run a 9:09 pace to come in around 2 hours. 

At about the halfway point, I was running an 8:58 pace. But I hit the wall coming out of Piedmont Park and up the hill on 12th Street. It was mostly uphill from there.

Heat, humidity and hills are not a good combination. Thank goodness there were well stocked water stations every mile. I think I dumped more water over my head than I drank.

I used Runkeeper during the race, and I noticed that somewhere around mile marker 8 the GPS and the mile markers weren't matching up. When I crossed the finish line, I was quite disappointed to see that I had only logged 12.8 miles, with my official finish time being 1:57:13. Did I cut corners? Was the course mis-marked somewhere? Or not marked well enough? Still not sure what happened, but I do know, thanks to Facebook, that pretty much everyone else using a GPS logged 12.8 miles too. Major bummer. I was definitely happy to be done, but bummed that I can't really compare it to my other half marathons since it wasn't the full distance. Maybe I'll just keep that to myself and claim it as my new PR! ;)

Post-Race Snacks
Best described as: not bad, but not great. There was Nuun hydration, but it wasn't remotely cold. I could've used an ice cold Powerade! There were buckets of bananas, but they were all cut into thirds, which I found super annoying. I had to grab 3 of them and peel them individually! There were also loads and loads of Einstein Bros. Bagels, but there didn't appear to be anything to put on them. Bagels really aren't my thing anyway. Maybe I didn't look around enough, but I didn't see any energy bars or anything else. Meh.

Good thing we had French fries later on!

Overall Organization
If I had to grade this race, I would probably give it a B, which actually isn't that bad given that it's the inaugural year. Will I run this one again next year? Not sure. Right now I'm leaning toward no, mostly because I've learned that training in the summer just doesn't work for me - at least not while I'm living in the south.

Highlight of the Race
Hands down, best part of the race was rounding the corner on the Georgia Tech campus at about 10.5 miles and seeing the hubby and my 2 baby girls waiting to see me run by. They looked so excited and so proud of mommy, and it was just the push I needed to make it through the last couple miles.

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