The race was changed this year from a 30K, relay, & 5K to a 1/2 marathon, relay, & 5K. I honestly had mixed feelings when I found out that this years race would be a 1/2 marathon instead. At first I was "yay, 5.5 less miles", but then I was saddened because a part of me really wanted to see how far I have come since I last ran a race of this distance. Let's just be honest though, 1/2 marathon is where my heart is so it is all good and I was excited to run the new version of this race.
The 5K and 1/2 Marathon (and relay) had separate start lines and started about 5 minutes apart. We were a few minutes late starting as they were allowing people to get out of the port-o-potty line. I can appreciate this, however sometimes people have other places to be or time out their pre-race routine (warm-up and fueling) around a particular time and a late start can hinder that.
Everything was going great and I was running a nice even pace (my goal for today), then things got not so great. My feet were a little cold waiting for the start and they ended up feeling a little numb/tingly before we started. Well, suddenly, my feet felt like I was running on fire. It was painful (and honestly) scary. I wasn't sure exactly what was happening, but it just wasn't right. After collecting my thoughts, I wasn't sure if it was just from my feet 'unnumbing' or something more serious. I promised myself that if it continued until I got to the next aid station (about a mile away) that I would pull myself from the race and get checked out. Fortunately, it went away in about 5 minutes, but was still scary to say the least. I run a lot in 'cold' (by Georgia standards) and have ran in a lot colder than it was today and I have never experienced this. I am note sure if I had a touch of frostbite going on, but I don't think it was that cold.
I continued along the course which took you through various parts of Rome, GA. What, you have never heard of Rome, GA?!? Well, it is a rural area about half way between Atlanta and Chattanooga. While the course didn't have all the pizzazz and fanfare of some of the large downtown Atlanta races, this course didn't lack with some lovely country scenery and great cheer squads by the Berry Cross Country team.
The highlight of my scenery came around mile 5 when something caught my eye in the sky. At first I didn't realize what I was seeing flying over head - it was a BALD EAGLE! Yes, a beautiful symbol of our country was soaring above me! HOW FREAKIN' AWESOME! The campus of Berry College (just next to the race course) has a bald eagle family living in its wildlife preserve (click here to read more about it if you are interested or want to try to catch them on the webcam). Seriously, how many people can say that they had a bald eagle flying over them while running a half marathon!
....in the mean time Momma K was busy at work in the 5K taking home first place for Female 60-64! Whoooop! She scored a gift certificate to a local running store as her prize. Yay for free running gear!
I really enjoyed the portion of the course that took us through Ridge Ferry Park as I could just enjoy nature's beauty and the river that ran along the side of the path. I came into the finish line with a better mental attitude than I did the first few miles, but who doesn't get happier when you are heading to the finish? Thanks to Momma K's photography, I can see how 'tense' I ran and see that my form was pretty bad (probably a result of my race mentality today).
I am still really pleased with how I did. While I was about 15 minutes slower than my PR, I did what I wanted to do by running at a steady pace. After looking back at my splits from my PR race last week, I saw how much I fizzled in the last 3 miles which I tend to do, so today it was about consistency even if it meant slower.