Tuesday, October 23, 2012

AthHalf Half Marathon Recap part 2

That's my Dad in the red jacket taking pictures
As I talked about in part 1 of my half marathon recap, it was very crowded at the start line and it didn't let up once our timing started after we crossed the line. I was able to start jogging but definitely not going very fast. I started trying to weave through the other runners as much as I could but I wanted to stay on the left side because that was were my Dad was going to be taking pictures. Unfortunately, there were so many people my Dad didn't see me so I missed photo op #1. 
Since we were basically running around the block, my Dad was able to walk up the street and get some more pictures of us passing. I again tried to stay on the left side so he would see me, while still weaving through as many people as possible. Here is the one pic my Dad was able to snap before I zoomed by.
After I knew the photo ops were done, I started concentrating on keeping a comfortable pace while getting free of most of the crowd. I was feeling really good and keeping an awesome pace of around 8:35 and then after I hit mile 2 my legs just wanted to quit, they felt so tired and I began to question my fueling plan and whether I would be able to finish the race. I told myself to just keep going until mile 3.5, refuel, and then reassess how I was feeling. So I pushed through and got my peanut butter gu followed by some water at mile 4. 

I began to feel better and then we hit a nice long downhill that felt like it lasted for over a mile. This was when the euphoria hit and I felt like I had the biggest smile on my face. I was enjoying every minute of the downhill and felt like I could run forever. Then we got to mile 5 and the uphills started, just a few at first and one big one I powered up but then it felt like we just kept hitting more and more uphills and I started feeling sluggish again. We crossed the timing line at the 10k mark and I realized I had just ran my fastest ever 10k at 54:39. This gave me a nice push when I needed it and I knew I was still on target to meet my goal of finishing under 2 hours. 

Crossing the bridge over Sanford Stadium
At around mile 7 I started recognizing some landmarks from my college days, and realized we were heading towards the apartment building I lived in my junior and senior years. Unfortunately, we had to climb a couple of big hills to get there. By the time we made it to where my apartment was, we were headed down a nice hill. I totally missed the complex as I was concentrating on getting some water at mile 8 and trying not to focus on the pain that was radiating from my right ankle and up the back of my calf.

Heading up the first of the last 3 hills
The course then brought us to the east side of the UGA campus, which has changed so much in the last 9 years. The parking lots I remember are now dorms, but it was nice to be able to run down some of the same roads I walked down all those years ago and see the many changes and that some things are still the same. I refueled again at mile 9.5 and followed it with some water at mile 10. At this point I was ready to be done but I was really enjoying seeing the campus again. 

As I was nearing mile 12 I passed what used to be my dorm my sophomore year and sadly it no longer existed. A new building was going up in its place, this made me a bit sad but that quickly passed as I zoomed down the hill and headed towards the stadium and what would be the final leg of the half marathon. 

I pushed through the last 3 hills and finally headed downhill towards the entrance to Sanford Stadium. This was the part of the race I had waited all morning for! Actually I had been waiting months for this part of the race and it was so much better than I thought it would be. Running a lap around the hedges, being on the jumbotron, not once, but twice...So amazing and the perfect way to end a race. 

After leaving the stadium, it was just that final tenth of mile left and I was making great time. I was even kicking myself for not pushing harder and getting an even better time. So my goals were to set a PR (my first half marathon time was 2 hours 5 minutes and 37 seconds) and to finish under 2 hours. Here are my results:

So there is my recap for the race course. Overall, it was a great course, some of the hills tried to kill my spirit but I made it and I am stronger for it! Stay tuned for part 3 where I will review the finish line set up, post race food, and the race aftermath.   

The hills of Athens
Mile splits