My Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon "weekend" started the Sunday before when I fulfilled my Atlanta Track Club Ambassador hours by volunteering at packet pick-up. With a race the size of this one (12,000+ across the half marathon, 5K, mile, and 50 meter dash), a pre-race packet pickup is necessary. Atlanta Track Club is great about trying to accommodate as many people as possible by hosting multiple pick-ups at various Big Peach Running Company stores across metro-Atlanta over several days leading up to the event. Due to popular demand, Atlanta Track Club added a new option of will-call packet pickup this year. For a minimal fee (1/2 of which was donated to Atlanta Mission - along with clothing collected at their clothing drive), runners were able to pick up their packet on race morning which was great for out-of-town runners.
We arrived in plenty of time to eat 'breakfast', use the port-o-potty, and get ready to run without feeling rushed. As I was running around before the race, I ran into my friends Marie and George - it is always great catching up with them.
Yes, it is Atlanta and yes, it is hilly, but I absolutely LOVE this race and course. The course support along the way is great with everyone wishing people a happy Thanksgiving and cheering you on along the way. After running this race the past 2 years and running portions of this course in other races throughout the year, I am rather familiar with the terrain of the course.
While my goal today was simply to just run and not worry about pace, I knew that the first half of the course was where I could really take advantage and get some speed (some slight uphill with a good amount of level and some downhill). As I passed the 5K split, I realized that I just beat my 5K PR from last week - ummmm, I don't think that you are supposed to beat your 5K PR in a half marathon. I kept on going and made my way along towards Piedmont Park where you cross the 10K split. Yeaaa, I beat my 10K PR as well and I realized at the half way point what kind of pace I was running (on pace for a PR by about 18 minutes).
Well, around mile 10 things started to hurt. Not an excruciating pain where I needed to stop, just an all over everything hurts and my body is not happy right now pain. What did I do?!? Crap. Did I overdo it?!?! A part of me wanted to call my friend who is such a mentor to me, Coach Jeff, for some encouragement. Well, just about then, I started thinking to myself about what Coach Jeff would tell me - 'you are already uncomfortable, you might as well get rewarded for it.'
The last two miles were not pretty. I slowed down a lot and cried a few times, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other. As I approached the finish line, I saw the 1996 Olympic Rings in the distance which you run under just before the finish line. A few friends of mine and fellow Atlanta Track Club ambassadors were lined on the street and I got cheers for the final push to the finish.
So maybe the pain endured the last few miles was worth it! Now a part of me wishes I would have been able to do if things didn't go crazy at mile 10. All in all, it is an awesome start to the day and one I will remember for a long time.
February (Date is TBD) - Atlanta Hawks Fast Break 5K - Atlanta
March 26 - Atlanta Women's 5K - Atlanta