Monday, March 18, 2013

Bring Your Best: Georgia Half Marathon 2013 Recap

Race morning!
After just a few hours of sleep, I woke up at 6am and decided to go for it. There's always the sag wagon, and I just wanted to go out there and do what I could. I put on my capris and a purple shirt, grabbed my race belt, and gently pulled on my running shoes. It was about a 14 minute walk from the Sheraton to Centennial Park.

Getting to the starting corrals was a mess. There were people with "Ask me" shirts stationed around the park, who were pointing in the right direction, but the corrals were all gated areas on the road on one side of the park. The sidewalks around the corrals were packed with people trying to get into the corrals, even though there didn't seem to be any open entrances into the corrals, and there were family and spectators pushing both ways around the corrals. When the first wave went off and I still hadn't gotten close to my corral, I just crawled through the gates and joined the moving people. I put in my headphones and went with the flow.

I'd heard a lot about how hilly the Georgia course in Atlanta is, so I was prepared for the worst. It never got to be the worst, though. There were about 5 good hills, that were really noticeable, but they were definitely manageable. I took advantage of the downhill to relax, and I could tell everyone else did as well. The rest of the course was gorgeous, lots of great things to look at including beautiful architecture.

Course support was really fantastic! There were water and powerade stations about every other mile, and two food stations on the half marathon course. One had jelly beans, and one had m&ms! I took water for the first half, had a peppermint stick gel around mile 6, and powerade after that. I also pinned an extra vicodin to my pants, which I took with water at mile 4.

At every mile, I checked in right at about 10 minutes. I was really surprised at how consistent I was, since I tried to slow down to feel my foot every now and then. The slower I went, though, the more I could feel the wrapping around my toe, so I just kept going. I just enjoyed running by everyone who was out there cheering, and I felt so lucky to be there. Not only am I home with my husband and friends, but I get to run through Atlanta without stopping and truly enjoy it. Runs like this really make me regret all the days I hated running, or stopped early, because I really am lucky.

Even though my original plan was to stop when I needed to and take the sag wagon, I didn't need to  stop once. I didn't push myself, but I could have, so I know my next race will be great. The last mile had signs every quarter mile, and a lot of people cheering us on. Crossing the finish line felt great, but I was almost sad it was over. I guess this means more full marathons are in my future ;) The finish chute wasn't too crowded, and I went through and got my finisher's medal, a bottle of water, a bottle of chocolate milk, WHICH WAS AMAZING, a heat blanket, and then finisher's photos right before the exit. I wish the photo backgrounds were outside the finish chute area, since it kind of clogged up the exit and I like taking goofy pictures with people after rather than just the professional ones. After all this, we had to walk all the way across Centennial Park to the food tent to hand over the food ticket from our race bib to get a Publix bag filled with a banana, nutrigrain bar, fruit, cookies, and nuts. I didn't eat any of this there, just my water and chocolate milk.

My bib and finisher's medal
In the middle of the park was the family reunion area, with giant signs with letters on it to make it easier to find people. I waited by the H sign for Kevin to come find me, since apparently he didn't leave the hotel until he got my finisher notice on his phone. After he brought my flip flops, I went to the med tent to get a bag of ice for my knees and have my toe re-wrapped. On the other side of the park there were other tents and a large stage where they had a concert scheduled, but we didn't stick around to watch it. I think extra things like concerts are a waste and just add to the race fees. For the Rock N Roll races, I can understand, but having a concert on a Sunday morning in dowtown Atlanta, on St. Patrick's Day, but with no beer, I don't really see the point. It just seemed like a waste of money and energy.

After getting my toe wrapped, Kevin and I walked back to the hotel and stopped in the club lounge for a bagel and some fresh fruit. I LOVE blueberry bagels with strawberry cream cheese, with more chocolate milk. After a quick shower I packed up, and we went to Oriental Pearl for some delicious dim sum. There aren't any good Chinese restaurants near Augusta, so we take advantage of this whenever we're out of town.

After his first half marathon, Kevin now knows what it feels like after a race, so he drove home while I slept in the car. My foot was definitely feeling pretty rough when I got home, so I popped some more pills and have been elevating it ever since. When I woke up this morning, it was particularly swollen and still bleeding a little. Definitely time to take it easy.

Overall, I would definitely do this race again. It was well organized and planned, despite the starting corrals mess, and it was a great course. It may not have been the best choice for my foot, but I survived, and I don't regret it at all. Now I can get ready for the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run in a few weeks, and wait to hear back from all these law schools!

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