Respect the Half Marathon – Atlanta 13.1 Marathon

Respect the Half Marathon – Atlanta 13.1 Marathon

Race day came and I decided I would take Marta.  There was one train early enough to get me there on time, and it was a mile to the start from the station.  It seemed so much easier than the prospect of driving…but we all know I hate driving.

So I packed a drop bag (um, why have I not done this before?  It was awesome) and off I went.  With oatmeal in a cup.  Of course the Marta was only running on one track and so it was late.  Sigh.  But I saw some fellow runners on it, which made me feel less spazzy.  Still we got there with very little time to spare – especially when you’re me and require many multiple bathroom stops pre-race and there are crazy long lines at these busy road races.  I hopped off the Marta and sprinted the mile to the race.  I couldn’t figure out all of these people leisurely walking to the start.  I guess they didn’t have to go to the bathroom.

I got there and dropped off my bag.  As expected the bathroom lines were outta control.  I was able to make it through once.  This seemed woefully inadequate, but would have to do.  At least it was only 13 miles.  Although coping a squat on the side of the road was probably not a realistic option.  Another plus of trail running 😉

If only...

If only…

I ran to the start corral with less than a minute to spare and frantically looked for the pace groups.  My PR in a road half is about 1:42.  I thought I’d start out chasing the 1:40 and see what happened.

I sort of found him and set off chasing him.  Within the first quarter mile of the race, some dude in front of me drops his Five Hour Energy.  I see this and I think someone is going to break an ankle on that thing rolling down the pavement so I dive down, get it, bounce back up and sprint to the guy and give it to him.  As I keep on running past (chasing the 1:40 pace guy) the Five Hour Energy guy’s friend makes fun of him for a girl picking up his energy drink, returning it and then chicking him.  As he should.  Come on man, this is a half marathon, not an eight hour work day.  What’s with the Five Hour Energy.  But I digress.

I cannot have caffeine for this reason...

I cannot have caffeine for this reason…

Wonder if it worked out for him?

Wonder if it worked out for him?

 So I’m following the 1:40 pace person and I’m not too far off.  There are some chicks inbetween me and the pacer guy so I just try to stay with them.  I’m feeling good.  It’s dark at the start so that was kind of freaky.  I just kept expecting to trip and fall since I’m always miss graceful.  But alas, I made it until the sun was out and I could see.

The race runs through the Brookhaven neighborhood in Atlanta.  The start of the race is about 7-8 miles from my house right down Peachtree.  So for long runs, I often run down there, past there and back to my house.  So parts were not unfamiliar.  After some time we turned back into neighborhoods which was some new scenery.  I was just enjoying mindlessly running chasing the pacer

Some time around mile 4 or so, we looped back out on Peachtree to go past where we started.  I was feeling really good and enjoying the race despite ever increasing heat and humidity.  OK mostly humidity.  Damn humidity.  Ugh.  Then out of nowhere the 1:40 pacer guy veers off course!  And I’m like, wait, don’t go, please! I need you!  I don’t know what his deal was, but I’m guessing he needed to take a dump or something?  Who knows.

I wanted to tell the pacer this so that he didn't mess up my race…but then I guess I didn't want to be down wind from that for another hour...

I wanted to tell the pacer this so that he didn’t mess up my race…but then I guess I didn’t want to be down wind from that for another hour…

So then just like that I’m totally on my own.  And let me tell you – I suck at pacing.  My strategy is usually as fast as I can for as long as I can.  No pacing there.  It’s all out or die.  Or if it’s a long race or a hard trail, then slow and steady.  But out here on the road…I got no strategy.  So I pick up on the ladies in front of me and just follow them for a while.  But I’m feeling good so I pass them and I keep on keeping on.  Eventually I get to this guy who is running with this tall guy.  The tall guy keeps running ahead then stopping and coming back or running in place waiting for the other guy and shouting motivational phrases the whole time.  I guess he was the other dude’s coach or something?  I don’t know, but I now join the coach and his runner as well.

Here is coach behind me.  Yes I know I look insane.

Here is coach behind me. Yes I know I look insane.

Here is coach's athlete in front of me.  And, yes, I know I look even crazier in this one.

Here is coach’s athlete in front of me. And, yes, I know I look even crazier in this one.

We went through this cute little section of the PATH trail in Dunwoody and at this point I realize the 1:40 is definitely happening for me, and I’m so excited!!  It was a fairly hilly course and there was a big hill towards the end, although just where escapes me now as I write this in retrospect.

Let me tell you – the volunteers and aid station workers and spectators were awesome.  Lots of fun signs, bands, djs, music, and just fun happy people.  Really loved the vibe.  And in my usual form I just took the time to really really enjoy the day and settle in.  I smiled ear to ear the whole race and was just grateful for another awesome day in the sun moving forward on my own two feet.   It was a great experience.

I got to the home stretch and realized I was about to break 1:40 significantly!  I finished in 1:36 which is crazy fast for me.  I was pretty pumped and really happy with myself for sticking it out the whole race.  A six minute PR. Not bad, not bad at all.

Following the race I took some pictures and perused the vendors.  There were some giveaways at Big Peach so I went there and got a raffle ticket.  You had to be present to win so I loitered around while waiting for Chuck and Kim.  I realized Big Peach had a super nice new bathroom that no one was a using so I hurried and got my drop bag and snuck in there to change.  It was glorious!  Clean and wonderful and even had a shower.  I was tempted, but I didn’t.  I did change and go to the bathroom.  I really wanted to loiter around the nice bathroom some more, but I knew people were waiting so I hurried out.

2013-10-06 10.23.07

Now, I know I run a lot.  But what I don’t do is run hard and fast a lot.  And let me tell you, going into this race I thought, it’s just a half marathon.  No big deal. What’s 13 miles after what you’ve done this summer.  But what did I learn?  Respect the half marathon.   When you run only 13.1 and when you run them at almost as hard as you can, your body gets mad.  And mine was no exception.

I exited the bathroom and the Big Peach and some obstacle race had a booth set up outside.  They tried to convince me to do some sort of challenge which involved pushups, kettle bells, and box jumps.  Suddenly, my stomach did something crazy and I was like, dude, I love push ups but I gotta go.  I ran over to the porta potties because there was no line (thank god). I dug around in my drop bag like a crazy woman and found some baby wipes in there.  Oh my goodness, let me tell you these baby wipes were like mana from heaven at this point and I had never been so happy to see something.  Sigh.  Yeah, my body was not happy about moving so fast for so long in such humidity.

Don't leave home without it…and I don't mean your American Express card...

Don’t leave home without it…and I don’t mean your American Express card…

I got that all taken care of and squared away and went back to Big Peach to wait for the raffle and Kim and Chuck.  The obstacle race people got me and I stupidly agreed to do their challenge.  Push-ups no problem.  However, kettlebells and box jumps post-half marathon sucked.  Ugh.

…Seemed like a good idea at the time...

…Seemed like a good idea at the time…

Chuck came over shortly thereafter and he had a PR too!  Yay!  Go Chuck.  Kim and Chuck are a super cute runner couple so Chuck had taken sufficient supplies for both he and Kim to ensure she’d have what she wanted when done (so sweet!).  After some cajoling I convinced Chuck to put their fuel in my bag and we went to the finish to cheer Kim in.  While we waited, Chuck called Kim on her iPhone and encouraged her along.  This was beyond sweet.  Every runner wife’s dream.  Sigh.

Kim came in also having a PR!  Which was awesome.  We got some pictures in and they dropped me off at their car.

Three PRs!  Yay!

Three PRs! Yay!

I was delighted to find the Pittsburgh mug in their back seat (Chuck is a fellow Pittsburgher!)

Go Steelers!

Go Steelers!

All and all for the day it was a pretty good one!

Screenshot 2013-10-19 13.58.53

Another awesome day to stop and smile in the sun and appreciate the fact that I’m still moving forward on my own two feet.  A good day indeed.

Until next time…Happy Trails ;)

Until next time…Happy Trails 😉

Guest Post: The Pittsburgh Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay

Guest Post: The Pittsburgh Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay May 5, 2013

By Uncle Goat – Joe George 😉 

Hello there!  Thought everyone might need some weekend inspiration and motivation, so I’ve got a little guest post for you today!

As you may or may not know, I started running more or less about 18 years ago…my little brother was a runner too.  And there was one more runner in the family, my dad’s older brother, our Uncle Joe!

Me and Uncle Joe rockin the Laurel Highlands Sr. High Alumni Cross Country Race!

Me and Uncle Joe rockin the Laurel Highlands Sr. High Alumni Cross Country Race!

And me, and my brother, and my Uncle Joe, well, we’ve kept on running over the years.  And we’re our own little running family.

The running Georges (minus Little E!) Beth, Uncle Joe, Pooky & Me!

The running Georges (minus Little E!) Beth, Uncle Joe, Pooky & Me!   We all won that day too!

And Uncle Joe – he’s 66 years old now – he’s still going … and according to his 2:09 half marathon performance at the 2013 Pittsburgh Half Marathon… he’s still going strong and is truly a Runner of Steel!

From the Goat:  And...the rest of the running family (again, minus Little E)...Beth Ann, Darren, Phil & Uncle Joe!

From the Goat: And…the rest of the running family (again, minus Little E)…Beth Ann, Darren, Phil & Uncle Joe!

In honor of this awesome performance – I asked him to write a little guest post about his experience at the race!  I mean, if he’s still running – and running pretty fast – at 66, then you have no excuse – right?  And from the looks of it, it turns out that not only running fast runs in the family but also stellar blogging lol.  Enjoy – and big congrats to Uncle Joe and everyone else who ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon this year!

Pittsburgh Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay Marathon  May 5, 2013

 ……….as I approached the Half Marathon finish line, I looked to my far right noticing out of the corner of my eye a lone runner sprinting, and after thinking a moment I realized, hey the winner of the mens Marathon running twice my distance beat me to the finish…..He did have a six minute head start. LOL

It all started two hours, nine minutes and fourteen seconds ago there I stood in singlet and shorts anxiously waiting my turn to tour 13.1 miles of Pittsburgh’s bridges and neighborhood.  This morning in Southwestern Pennsylvania presented near perfect weather conditions.  Sunny, dry, low humidity and temperature in the breezy 50’s.

You could feel an air of excitement, caution (with tightened security) and reverence to our running brothers and sisters of the Boston tragedy.  A moment of silence along with shirts, wrist bands and the accommodation of 37 Boston runners who were unable to finish the April 22nd race.

My strategy for the race was to run mile splits at a comfortable hard pace.  Last year I went out too fast struggling the last few miles.  My training for the past four months had been erratic so I was unsure about what pace I could hold.  I estimated around a ten minute pace which came close to the 9:52 that I averaged besting my time from last year by two minutes.

As in previous Marathon years Patrice Matamoros with her team and many volunteers pulled this one off successfully in light of the Boston bombing.

The Half Marathon course is mostly flat with a few short rolling hills with five inclines coming from the five bridges to be crossed.  The Marathon course as well crosses five bridges with one steep climb up into the Oakland neighborhood and again with a few short rolling hills and a lot of flat area.  Along the  course bands provided entertainment and motivation along with many spectators throughout the thirteen Pittsburgh neighborhoods.  Race organizers provided fluids, gels and medical facilities along the route.  The amenities (fruit, fluids, sweets) continued at the finish.  Point State Park was used as a reunion area and finish line festival area providing many recovery aids.

From the Goat:  Uncle Joe looking great and rockin' his medal after a stellar half!!!

From the Goat: Uncle Joe looking great and rockin’ his medal after a stellar half!!!

There was a record setting 22,143 finishers in all distances.  As a result organizers had wave start with corrals A,B,C,D,E to ease congestion the first three miles.  James Kirwa from Kenya won the mens Marathon race in a time of 2:13:37.  Mary Akor from California won the womens Marathon race in a time of 2:37:35.

On a sad note one of our fellow runners  23 year old Kyle Johnson collapsed at mile 12 and later was pronounced dead at a local hospital of “a inherited abnormality of the coronary artery system”.  Race director Patrice Matamoros said its a loss for the entire Marathon family, our hearts and prayers go out to his family.

I missed wishing friends good luck because of the large crowd and corral assignments.  I did see two of my fellow runners by chance at the finish line festival, then using texting and facebook to hand out accolades to my other race friends.

The ideal weather conditions presented many racers with the opportunity to achieve a personal best time.  One of my friends Laura bested her 2012 Marathon time by 15 minutes.  Following the pack mentality she fell in with a pacer group that pulled her along.

Pittsburgh area is known as the city of bridges(446).  Its location is where  three rivers converge.  The Allegheny and Monongahela flow together forming the Ohio..  One of the pictures posted was taken in the Mon Wharf parking area showing the Monongahela river in the background.  The medal given to all finishers honors Pittsburgh’s past by having the logo “Runner of Steel” engraving (picture posted).

From the Goat: I am SO jealous.  Runner of Steel??? Best medal ever!

From the Goat: I am SO jealous. Runner of Steel??? Best medal ever!

I would highly recommend Pittsburgh as a class one destination Marathon and Half Marathon race.  I myself have run both and am already thinking about next years event.

Can’t wait till 2014!!!

 uncle joe shirt