Monday, December 1, 2014

Race Recap: 2014 Atlanta Half Marathon

Happy belated Thanksgiving! Hopefully you enjoyed the holiday as much as I did.

I took the day off from work on Wednesday to start prepping some food and to pick up my race number. (I had to drive about 30 minutes north to pick it up.)

Homemade cranberry sauce
The race jitters started to set in a little bit Wednesday night, as I was laying out all my gear. No matter how many times I have crossed a half marathon finish line, I always worry that I won't make it - that I'll get swept off the course. It's ridiculous, but it is what it is!

I went to bed around 9, and set my alarm for 4:15 am to give me plenty of time to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast (and have plenty of time to digest), and get to the race early. As usual, I had a hard time falling asleep due to the nerves / excitement. I must've checked my alarm 5 or 6 times just to make sure...

Eventually I fell asleep, and 4:15 came around pretty quick. After getting dressed, I scarfed down a couple of cinnamon raisin scones that I baked the night before. I walked out the door with all my gear and a big travel mug of coffee around 5:15 am to head to Turner Field.

I arrived around 5:45 and sat in the car keeping warm, drinking coffee, and taking deep breaths (and of course using the port-a-potty a couple times). I made the mistake of looking at the course map and elevation chart again about an hour before the start and really started to get nervous. I texted my dad and said that I hoped to match last year's time of 1:59:08, but didn't think I would.

Finally, it was time to head to the starting line. I was parked right by the start, so I got out of the car around 7:15 and walked over. I spent the next 15 minutes jumping up and down and rubbing my hands together to stay warm.

The race started at 7:30, but I was in the second start corral, which took off at 7:35. Right away, I could tell I felt good. I was concerned about starting out too fast, so I really held back in the first half mile. When Runkeeper told me I was running a 9:19 and I wasn't breathing hard or even breaking a sweat yet, I knew I could pick it up. My pace got faster and faster over the next few miles.

By the time I hit mile marker 4, I knew that unless I completely crashed and burned in the back half of the race, I was going to PR. I couldn't believe how great I felt considering I was running significantly faster than normal. I had an 8:29 pace going through the first half of the race!

The course starts to get tougher around mile marker 7, with most of the hills in the last 6 miles. I powered up all the hills without losing much off my pace. It wasn't until mile marker 12 that I started to feel some fatigue in my legs and get anxious to finish.

At last, I could see the Olympic rings ahead and knew I was almost done. I sprinted to the finish...and got a HUGE smile on my face as soon as I crossed the line. I accidentally stopped my Runkeeper about 30 seconds early, but I knew I had shattered my previous best by several minutes.

And then I saw these beautiful munchkins waving to me:

This race was so much better because I had daddy and baby girls waiting for me at the finish line. And they were so proud of mommy! (And so ready to get out of the cold and go home!)

Later in the day, I checked the website for my finish time. 1:54:27!!! A new PR by 4 minutes 41 seconds. I far exceeded my own expectations, and was reminded of why I love racing. There is a huge sense of accomplishment that comes along with proving to yourself that you can do something you didn't think you could do.

And now here I am, 4 days later, still riding high. So much so that I already signed up for my next half marathon! Training begins (again!) in just a couple weeks.

How was your Thanksgiving?

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