2014 Atlanta Half Marathon Race Recap

It’s been a long while since I’ve been able to blog, but thank goodness that time has come to an end! As of last week, I am officially done with grad school! I’m so excited to be back to blogging and running more.  I’ve been getting my MBA part time (in the evenings after work) so a few people have told me that I’ll need something to fill my time.  Good thing I’ve signed up for my first marathon….more on that later!

This past Thursday I ran the Atlanta Half Marathon.  This race will always have a special place in my heart because in 2013, it was my first half marathon!  This year, Christina and I have been training really hard.  I joined the Atlanta Track Club Half Marathon training group again and having a group to run with really helped push me.

As we were driving to the race, Christina and I were talking about how this is probably the most ready either of us have felt for a race.  We did our training, I’ve been following proper nutrition (I even went and saw a sports nutritionist), and I’ve been doing strength training 2x a week.  We also followed the taper and our legs felt really fresh.  We were both really excited to see what we could do.  We had two goals going into the race.  Our “A” goal was to PR…our previous best half marathon time was from July, 2:23.  Our B goal was our stretch goal, and it was to hit 2:15.  I thought that if we were feeling good when we started we could do it, Christina was skeptical.

We met the girls from my training group as well as my coworkers before the race in the lobby of the hotel very close to the start line.  It was warm and had real bathrooms! It was a great idea and one we’ll probably replicate in the coming years! It was great to see the girls in my training group, almost all of them were running their very first half marathon!

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The weather for the race was really fantastic, especially compared to last year’s 17 degrees! The temperature at the start was around 38 degrees.  We wore matching outfits as usual, and we picked our layers just right.  We wore throw-away jackets at the start and for the race, coldgear tights, a think long sleeve tee with our “RunATL” short sleeves over it.

We headed to the start a few minutes before the first wave crossed, and we got to see the elites start the race.  It always impresses me how fast those men and women run!

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After the first wave went, we jumped into corral C on a whim.  I was in B and Christina was in E, but we both felt like our times we put down weren’t right, so we went into a corral in the middle.  This actually was probably the best decision we made all day! After just a few minutes of standing , we were ready to run!

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We started off what felt like slow, but the excitement of the race and the desire to get warm meant we went out a little fast, with our first mile clocking in at 10:13.  Considering the first mile and a half of this race is uphill, I was a bit concerned.  But after checking with Christina, we decided we truly did feel okay, so we kept going.  Our plan was to dial it back on the uphills and really book it on the downhills, and we kept with that.  Mile two clocked in at 9:53, and then miles three and four were relatively flat, and we hit those at 10:01 and 9:42, respectively.  We definitely think being in Corral C was the right decision, as we were running the same pace as those around us.  If we had started further back like we planned, we likely wouldn’t have gone out so fast nor sustained it!

We also planned to walk through the water stops, which were every 2 miles, and we did stick to that plan.  The one and probably only complaint I have about this race was about the water stops.  The Powerade was very, very weak.  I could barely taste the Powerade! I’m a salty sweater so really need the sports drink when I’m running long distances.  Unfortunately it was like this at every stop.  I heard quite a few runners around me complaining of the same thing.

Mile 5 was also pretty easy at 10:07, and then mile 6 was one of the big hills of this race, straight up 14th street.  Luckily the course was the same as last year, and I had studied the elevation chart, so I knew that this was coming and started mentally preparing both of us about a half mile before.  There was a water stop at the end of the hill and then we were running in the park, so that helped us push through.  We only slightly slowed down, with miles 6 and 7 coming in at 10:13 and 10:12.

The second half of this race is pretty hilly. with a few pretty substantial hills sprinkled every mile or so.  At this point I knew it was very likely we’d hit our stretch goal of 2:15 unless something went horribly wrong.  We took comfort in the fact that we had a lot of time in the bank since we ran the first half so quickly.  Since we knew that there were a lot of hills ahead, we dialed it back on these hills a bit and our pace slowed.  Miles 8, 9, 10, 11 were at 10:23, 10:27, 9:57, 10:30.  We went into the last few miles feeling really strong and started picking it up.

Mile 12 flew by at a pace of 9:52, and our last mile we realized how much we were going to PR by and decided to leave it all out on the course and booked it, finishing mile 13 in 9:19, our fastest mile of the day.  This course ends by running under the Olympic rings right before you hit the finish line, and let me tell you, nothing makes you feel like an athlete more than running under those things!

2014 Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon Race Recap and Review Click To Tweet

Our final time was 2:12:47, a full 11 minutes under our previous PR of 2:23.  And that feeling that we got after, of awe and disbelief of what we had just accomplished, is exactly why we both love running so much.  We just kept repeating to each other “Holy Sh*t!” and “I can’t believe that just happened!”

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The best detail of this race was the post-race “heat sheets”…they were actually full zipped and hooded little jackets that were really warm! The post-race food was okay, I definitely wished there had been some pretzels and/or chocolate milk.  Overall, it was very well organized and put on.  And who doesn’t love starting Thanksgiving by burning over 1000 calories?  This was our second year running this race and it likely will be a new tradition for us!

Next up is our first marathon! Stay tuned for weekly training updates from both Christina and I!

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Jess

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