Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon Recap

This past week I ran my 4th Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon.

I've been a big fan of this race because back in 2008 it was my first Half. You never forget your first.

This year was a little - off. First, it was pretty cold. Running in cold weather can be good for time (meaning you run faster) but it can also make the entire experience uncomfortable. I don't know if it was the weather, or just my luck, but I had to use the facilities 3 times during the race. 0.0 That never happens.

Second, we got a late start getting to the race. In years past, the Atlanta Track Club encouraged people to take Marta. But the course has evolved and now they encouraged people to park at Turner Stadium. It took forever to make our way into the parking lot.

Third, there was no gear check. Oh, and did I mention there was no expo this year? It's strange because the ATC has recently revamped their look, their logo, their website, and their race offerings. All the while they seem to trimming back the service they provide during their events. Not having a gear check made the cold weather more difficult to tolerate.

Okay, okay, but all of that was superfluous to the running. The running was first.

We jogged to make it to the corrals on time and were ushered forward. We were wrapped in Mylar blankets so our bib numbers were covered. The volunteers were waiving us forward to corral 'B' but our bib's were for coral 'D'. We were nervous to be in such a 'fast' corral but decided to stick with it.

The course started out by Turner Field and then turned onto the GA State campus. I got a little teary-eyed as I jogged past GA State College of Law (the school that recently accepted me *woot woot*). After passing through GA State we ran behind GA Tech (Handsome Jack's former school). My mile splits were strong. So strong that I figured they must be wrong.

From there, the course got hilly. And chilly. I stopped to take my first potty break. I only waited for a short time in line before I got into a 'relatively' clean porta-potty. Feeling better, I jogged back to the pack and kept on.

Miles 3-6 flew by. Just before the half way point I had to find the porta-potties again. I ducked into a slightly longer line and waited my turn.

Let me frame this - I usually NEVER use the pota-potties on the course. I go before and after and that's it.

But this time, I took two breaks before reaching the half way point. So when I passed the clock and saw my time was stellar I was shocked.

The official Half Split was: 1:17:23. My second best 10k time. And instead of feeling invincible and encouraged, I felt confused. How could my time be that strong with two potty breaks?

So I slowed down. I started to doubt myself. I walked the hills (and believe me there are plenty of hills on the course). I walked the water stops (which is always my preference because choking is no fun). And I walked while I fueled. I even took a third potty break.

The second half of the race was a lot slower as a result.

We passed the Martin Luther King ctr, Atlantic Station (where I was nearly struck by a vehicle that disobeyed police instructions), and Oakland Cemetery (which is like, surrounded, by hills, ugh). Here's an action shot near the cemetery.

From there was jogged back towards the Capital building (which is also surrounded by hills, double ugh). Here's a pic of the gold dome.

We finished, down hill, just under the 1996 Olympic rings. My clock time was 3:02:55 but my official time was 2:56:04. Not my best, but not my worst.

I wish I could have kept to the pace I had in the first half. I'm also disappointed that this once great Half has been downgraded to a 'no service' event. Gear check would have been nice. I've come to expect it from longer events.

The medals were prettier than past years and instead of a Mylar blanket we got paper/fabric jackets (almost made of the same material as paper hospital gowns).

Maybe the bloom has finally fallen off this race (for me). IDK why, but the experience was just 'meh'.

It did help get me excited for Disney! I can't wait to run through the parks.

Did you run any races on Thanksgiving?

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