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Zooma Atlanta race report November 10, 2009

Posted by bettyjoan in Races, Running.
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Way back at the end of the summer, one of my triathlon teammates convinced me to sign up for the Zooma Atlanta half marathon.  “Come on!” she said.  “It’ll be fun!” she said.  “It’ll keep your training on target!” she said.  I figured it would be a good idea to have an endurance event on the fall calendar, as it would force me to stay in shape and avoid the off-season slump.

Well…so much for that.

Between my September wedding and some crazy work travel, my training regimen was decidedly unregimented.  I ran when I could, but it was usually on a treadmill, and it definitely wasn’t for distances that were acceptable for half marathon preparation.  So, as November 8 approached, to say that I felt apprehensive about my commitment would be the understatement of the year.  Still, even walking 13.1 miles is quite a feat, so I decided to stick with the event and just do the best I could.

I woke up bright and early on Sunday, and I put on my lucky running skirt, my “Will Run For Wine” wicking shirt, and my badass visor from the Chattanooga tri (it makes me feel like a real athlete, what can I say).  A friend picked me up, and we headed to Atlantic Station to start the race.  At the start line, I actually ran into a friend from high school who was attempting her first half marathon.  We chatted for a bit, and then it was off to the races!  I felt pretty good for the first couple of miles, happily bopping along to my workout playlist (this was an iPod-friendly race, which I hadn’t experienced before).

I paused for a bio-break at the first water stop, and I kept right on running when I was finished.  For the first 5-6 miles, I was pretty pleased with myself–after all, I was maintaining 11-12 minute miles, and I wasn’t feeling any pain.  Maybe I would PR after all!

Not so fast.

As Spring Street turned into Techwood, which turned into Centennial Olympic Park, and as we ran past the CNN Center and the crowds of Falcons fans already tailgating near the Georgia Dome (man, did their grilled meats smell good…), I started to poop out.  Specifically, around mile 7, my hip flexors began to THROB, and a stabbing pain occasionally flared up in and around my left knee (already braced).  Other than at the water tables, I hadn’t been walking–but the exceptionally hilly course, combined with my lackluster training, meant that my ability to truly run was more and more compromised, and I found myself slowing significantly.

We circled Turner Field, passed the gold-domed state capital, and then stayed on Piedmont Avenue for a while.  With every step, my joints cursed me.  I tried to play peppy, positive music, but my brain wasn’t buyin’ it.  I’ve never been so happy to see the 17th Street bridge and Atlantic Station.  As I spotted the finish line, I saw the clock and realized that I could finish in under three hours if I just gritted my teeth and pushed a little harder.  It may not have technically been a sprint to the finish, but I used every last bit of energy and gumption that I had and crossed that line at 2:56:16.  That was about 13 minutes slower than my ING Half Marathon time, but I felt like the Zooma course had a whole lot more climbing.

Instead of a medal, the Zooma half marathon finishers got a cool silver necklace–it’s a peach with a runner inside, and on the back is the date of the race.  I may not have set any records on Sunday, but I earned that piece of jewelry for sure!  While I wasn’t a huge fan of the course (it took us through some…unattractive parts of Atlanta, and there was virtually no one out on the roads cheering), I definitely appreciate Zooma for reminding me that I have to get back on the training wagon if I want to do better at these events.

Next up?  Who knows…maybe a Christmas 5K?  What do y’all have on your racing calendars for the holidays?

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