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ING Georgia Half Marathon recap April 2, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Races, Running.
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Last Sunday, I ran my very first half marathon.  Having only completed a few 5Ks and one 8K, it was a pretty big frickin’ deal.  Honestly, I fully expected to wuss out–after all, I was signed up to run a half back in November, and I backed out (using Thanksgiving and family obligations as excuses).  I think the intense triathlon training has tested my mettle and made me a lot less likely to blow off exercise in favor of other pursuits.

The Friday before the event, I took the day off work to clear my mind and tend to my mental health.  Since I had time on my hands, I headed over to the Georgia Dome to attend the ING Expo and pick up my race packet.  Despite the craptastic weather and the ridiculous parking situation, I had a pretty good time–I bought a bib number belt and some Bondi Bands, I checked out some of the other vendors, and I left with a renewed sense of excitement about the race.

On Saturday, I decided to attend our triathlon group training session, despite experienced runners telling me to take it easy and rest up for the race.  I just love the group workouts so much, and I hate to miss them!  We were supposed to be riding at Stone Mountain, but the forecast called for thunder and lightning all day, so we did an indoor spin class instead.  As a former spinning addict, I really enjoyed being on the spin bike again.  The workout lasted about an hour, and I took it slightly easier than I normally would have so I could conserve SOME energy.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing–my fiance and I saw “I Love You, Man,” which was HILARIOUS.  I tried to go to bed early, but I didn’t end up crashing till 10:30 or 11 PM.

At 5 AM the following morning, I awoke with a start and jumped out of bed to get ready.  Leggings, check.  Wicking bra and shirt, check.  Ankle brace, wicking socks, shoes (complete with timing chip), belt, headband, Garmin–all checkaroo.  I grabbed an energy bar and headed out into the cold, dark morning.  Centennial Olympic Park was already abuzz when I got there, and the volume and excitement continued to grow as the 15,000 participants arrived.  After using the restroom, I headed to Corral 7.  Shortly, the race started and those of us in the back of the pack started our journeys.

Even though it was about 40 degrees when we reached the start line, I warmed up very quickly and ditched my thermal overshirt within the first mile or two.  The energy was great, and I was chugging along nicely until mile four, when I had to go to the bathroom again (I stopped and had a cup of water or Gatorade at each and every hydration station).  I waited a good ten minutes to get into that Portapotty and vowed never to do it again.  Luckily, I was able to get back into my original pace after the delay–which, incidentally, was about 11 minutes per mile for the first six miles.

Around mile six, right as I was coming into Little 5 Points and seeing familiar faces at the Team In Training hydration station, I rolled my left ankle over.  It wasn’t surprising or painful, as I’ve sprained both ankles numerous times and they twist and turn at the drop of a hat, but it slowed me down a bit.  I continued running through the Poncey-Highland neighborhood (actually, I ran right past my condo) and into the Virginia Highlands.  It really was a lovely course, though it was hilly as hell.

Right around mile eight, I hit the wall.  I had to slow to a walk (a brisk one), and I really started feeling tight and tired and like I wasn’t going to make it to the end.  Then, the marathoners–specifically, the elite runners like the Kenyans and the professionals–ran past us to our left.  They were already well past the twenty-mile point, and they really motivated me to regroup and keep truckin’.  Around mile ten, we came through Piedmont Park and I decided to get my butt in gear and start running again.  There were a couple of nasty hills that kept my pace pretty modest, but I refused to give up.

We ran through Georgia Tech and finally, ahead, there was a sign stating that we had one more mile to go.  I gathered up all the oomph I had left and ran toward the finish line.  There were tons of people cheering, which definitely helped with that last bit of motivation.  When I crossed the threshhold and got my medal, a wave of pride and joy swept over me.  I had just finished a half marathon.  I didn’t finish it quickly (my official time was 2:53, but my watch said 2:43 because I stopped it while I waited in the restroom line), but I finished it.

I don’t think I’ll ever make it through a full marathon, but I’m determined to do more half marathons and improve my performance each time.  And I will always remember this ING event as the half that started it all!

betty1

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Comments»

1. Big Money Tony - April 3, 2009

Congrats! I’m not a runner, so I can’t say I know what you are going through, but it looks like you have the right viewpoint to meet your goals.

2. bettyjoan - April 3, 2009

Thanks! I try to keep a positive attitude–after all, if folks can battle cancer, I sure as heck can get out there and run.


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