To be honest, I kind of dread night time races. I am not a good night time runner, plus dealing with fueling in a timely manner for a night race just throws me off. Knowing that it was going to be in the 90s with a heat index of mid to upper 90s at the start of the race stressed me out a good bit. Heat is no joke and can be dangerous, so I was super prepared for the circumstances (along with most of the other runners) by having plenty of fluids on me.
I know, if I dread night races so much, why in the world did I sign up for a night time half marathon (let alone for 5 years in a row now)? That is a good question. I like to put myself in uncomfortable situations to make myself stronger. With that said, here I am for yet of 13.1 miles of uncomfortable fun. :)
My biggest gripe of the day comes into play here though. Remember how I mentioned that the half marathon started at 7:00 followed by the 5K at 7:10? Well, the 5K runs the same first 3.1 miles of the half marathon course. That means you had the super speedy 5K runners getting tangled with the half marathon runners inside of the narrow trail. There was some total nonsense happening including some near shoves and yelling at one another to get out of the way. Not cool runner friends, not cool. My suggestion here would be to either delay the 5K from starting until 7:30 so the last of the 1/2 marathon runners would be out of the woods before the lead 5Kers came through or alter the course for one of the two races so they don't cross paths. I get that there are logistics such as amount of time the roads can be closed and such, but it really did create a pretty rough situation for the mid-to-back of the pack half marathoners and about all of the 5K runners.
This heat is no joke friends - please make sure you hydrate well (even carry you own fluids at races) and slow down if needed. I started feeling a bit yucky with the heat around mile 5. I just felt "funky" and knew that I really needed to just slow myself down before something happens.
As I mentioned earlier, this race has gone through different changes over the years. In 2015 they had to revamp the course to these crazy switchbacks that repeated multiple times and a lot of people complained about how confusing it was (especially in the dark). Last year they resolved the issue and had us do basically an out-and-back in one direction and then another out-and-back in the other direction. The past 3 years this has been one of the flattest half marathon course's in the Atlanta area. Well, the past two years we were all surprised when we hit a pretty nasty hill at mile 7ish that was about a mile of climbing.
It was completely dark by the time I got to mile 8ish, but it was still pretty toasty the entire way - I mean, it IS August in Georgia so it is expected. Things got pretty ugly for me. There were a number of police cars helping keep our lanes clear and directing traffic out of neighborhoods from mile 8-10ish. Well, between the bright strobing lights (in the dark) and the heat, I got extremely nauseous. This has happened to me at a number of the night races that I have done, so I have pretty much confirmed that this is just a sensitivity that I have. I am so thankful that my friend, Jill, stayed with me and slowed down when needed to get through the rough moments along the way.
While I wished that I felt better, it was great to get to run with Jill and catch up a bit. I went into this race knowing that this was simply a 'get some miles in and earn some bling' race for me and not one where I was planning on pushing myself by any means.