Monday, March 26, 2012

Publix Georgia Half Marathon: Race Recap

A earned a brand new personal record last weekend at the Publix Georgia Half Marathon!  It was tough race at parts, but I finished strong and had a great time running with my mom!  First let's start with the pre race activities... 

So Friday we went to the race expo and enjoyed a tasty chocolate buffet.  Saturday was just a day spent hanging out.  I was really excited about our pre race meal though.  There are lots of great pizza options in Chicago, but I miss not having a Mellow Mushroom around.  My junior year of college they built one in Tallahassee and I ate there almost every week to grab the $5 small pizza deal.  When I lived in Orlando we enjoyed getting Mellow every now and then too.  My aunt, Wendy, cousin, Emily, mom, and I went there for an early dinner Saturday.  

We ordered two medium pizzas; one chicken caesar salad and one meatball, spinach, mushroom.  It. Was. Delicious.  I think I had four pieces.  

The evening was rather quiet too.  We watched a movie at home (Larry Crowne, which wasn't that great) and were in bed by 10pm.  

This was going to be my third half marathon.  My main goal for this race was to have fun and enjoy running with my mom.  As far as race time I was hoping (really hoping) to get under three hours.  I was so close last time at the Iron Girl.  I was a little worried with this course however because of the hills.  There are barely hills in Chicago, so I wasn't sure how it would go.  

My alarm went off early at 4:30am and I got out of bed right away.  After I got dressed I made sure to drink a big glass of water and ate a blueberry Clif Crunch bar.  Aunt Wendy drove my mom and I to the Marta train station where we boarded the train into the city.  The train was full of runners.  The race was relatively large with about 18,000 people running the half and full marathon.  We followed the crowd of people to Centennial Park and after a quick stop at the bathroom we made our way to our corral.    

After the National Anthem the race started.  Thankfully it was a rolling start and we passed the start around 7:12am.  It wasn't actually too crowded a start which was nice so there wasn't much bobbing and weaving through people.  

The weather was really comfortable around 68 degrees and warmed up just a bit as the sun rose.  Although there were hills I really enjoyed the course.  We ran through several different sections of the city; it was nice.  
Mile 5
My mom was a great motivator throughout and I was glad she was running with me!  There were plenty of aid stations and we made a decision to walk through them all.  I got water at all of them and Gatorade at most.  Honey Stingers were had around mile four and mile eleven, with some croissant around mile eight.  There were also some good cheering sections along the route from local business, organizations, and everyday people.  All the spectators and volunteers were great and helped make the run interesting.
Some guy had a plate full around mile eight so I grabbed one!
To meet my time goal of under three hours we needed to stay under a 13:43 mile, which was definitely doable.  I decided to break the race into three parts and gradually get faster with each third.  I was worried we started to fast around 13 minute mile, but it felt comfortable and we pretty much kept to that and under the whole race!  

Mile nine was actually one of our fastest miles with an 11:53 pace!
Around Mile 10 or 11, smiling just for the cameras
Then mile ten came, ugh.  The whole mile was a big hill and I could feel it.  It was our slowest mile at about 13:20.  My mom said we had done well enough in the beginning that we had around 43 minutes to finish the last 3.1 miles within my three hour goal; I could do that!
Mile 12 (hands are in the wrong order; I was tired)
The last two miles were not easy though.  We were running directly in the sun, it was getting hot, and I was tired.  I focused on just putting one foot in front of the other.  This last bit was also a long, slow incline to the finish.  I kept a pretty good pace, which was hard, but I was ready to finish and knew I would be happy if I had given it my all.  
The final sprint to the finish!
I was giving as much as I could and was worried if I would be able to give it that final push for the finish line stretch.  However, as soon as we turned the corner I dug down, picked up the speed, and sprinted down the chute.  It felt like I was flying - I have no idea where the burst of energy came from but it was exhilarating.  
We crossed the finish line with a time of 2:45:35!!!  Not only did I beat my goal of under three hours, but did it by practically 15 minutes!  I was so happy and proud.  We got medals placed around our necks, a heat blanket, water, and big bottle of chocolate milk.  I gave my mom a big hug and thanked her for motivating me along the way!  
Boy was I tired!  After a couple pictures and much needed stretching for our legs, we walked into the park to grab our food bag from Publix.  It was full of goodies.  I didn't eat any of it then, but drank about 3/4 of the chocolate milk; it is one of my favorite post workout treats and great for recovery.  
We walked around the park for a bit and then made our way back to the train which included climbing yet another hill, they are everywhere in Atlanta!  Aunt Wendy and Emily were there to pick us up at the station and congratulated us on our races.  

The rest of the day consisted of a nice long bath, tasty meal at a local restaurant, a nap with the cat, and hanging out with the family.  
I had a great weekend in Atlanta seeing my family and running once again with my mom!
I never imagined I would run a half marathon, let alone three.  It is absolutely amazing what you can accomplish if you keep a positive attitude and work hard!