After a Fall of anticipation – race day arrived! Whatever preparation I had or hadn’t done would be put to the test when the race started.
I drove down to the race start at Turner Field – leaving Forsyth County at 5:00 AM for a 7:30 race start. Last year, there was some heavy traffic between exiting the Interstate and the Stadium. I was delayed some last year (but still made the race start well) but wasn’t taking chances with it. I arrived around 5:45 and took the time to sit and relax for an hour.
I stayed with my earlier decision – running in the Brooks Pure Connect – as it was the shoe I had done my long run, and most recent runs in. I also decided to go with a long sleeve technical shirt and shorts as my race wear.
Around 6:50, I did about half a mile to warm up. It was chilly as the sun came up – 40 degrees without any wind. I went to my start corral – A – and awaited the race start while pacing, hopping and any movement I could as the corral filled in. After the National Anthem, the race director gave a 30 second countdown and the race was off.
My Goals for the Race
After cutting back this fall on running, I wasn’t expecting to record a personal record this year. My long run two weeks prior had seen me run 13.5 miles in about 1:44, so I didn’t see taking a better race than my 1:39:32 last year.
If I was going to improve, it would be through being smarter. The weather would give me an opportunity to go out quickly before getting warm, and limit my fluid loss (and limit my fluid needs). I was also planning to run a more efficient race. In the course of last year’s race, I ran a total of 13.6 miles – a half mile longer than the official distance according to my GPS app. If I could be smarter about weaving in traffic, then I could cut back on my steps taken during the race and shorten the distance.
Of course, I wanted to keep good form through the race and limit the possibility of any injuries.
The course starts from Turner Field and moves northwest through Georgia State and along the west side of Georgia Tech. It then crosses to the east through Atlantic Station along 17th Street, and crosses back over the downtown Connector and then starts south on West Peachtree Street. The race then turns onto 14th Street and runs towards Piedmont Park. The Atlantic Station to Piedmont Park is one of the race’s longest climbs – about 130 feet over 1.5 miles.
The race passes the 10k mark shortly after passing into Piedmont Park, and then heads onto 14th Street and runs the finish from the Peachtree Road Race in reverse before turning south again – this time for 2+ miles on Juniper and Courtland Streets. The race then turns onto Auburn Avenue, and passes the Ebeneezer Baptist Church and the King Center. The race turns onto Boulevard, and then Memorial Drive. The stretch from the King Center has several up and downs, with a net climb of 70 feet over the mile between 10 and 11.
Heading back towards the Capitol now, the race does a quick lap of downtown and then heads back down Capitol/Hank Aaron Drive to the finish at Tuner Field.
How I Ran
Personal Record – 1:38:23!
The first 10k of the race went by in 45:29. That’s faster than my Peachtree Road Race time by 14 seconds and just 12 seconds slower than my 10k Personal record. I had some cramping in my side during the first part of the race that loosened up later on in the race.
My slowest mile was the time from 10-11 as I passed the King Center and the climb after the Oakland Cemetery.
mi Pace (min/mi) Elevation (ft)
1 7:28 71
2 6:56 -50
3 7:04 -9
4 6:59 -95
5 7:14 -28
6 7:23 93
7 7:37 -60
8 7:36 90
9 7:37 29
10 7:37 -30
11 8:00 30
12 7:27 27
13 7:12 -69
14 7:14 -21
This is one of the Atlanta Track Club’s big events – along with the Peachtree Road Race. I love having the different start corrals based on pace (but I’m sure there’s people who falsify their intended pace).
The course was well marked, with timing stations placed every mile along the course and support stations at almost every mile. There was plenty of Police and traffic control support at intersections to ensure the safety of the runners.
I picked up an injury – but a small one. I had some severe bruising or a blood blister on my second toe on my left foot. Some of the research I’ve read on the Internet suggests this is a result of the toe hitting the inside of the shoe repeatedly.
I’m contemplating another Half Marathon after the first of the year – there’s several in the extended area in January and February.
One of my goals over the past year has been to find my way into the sub-seed group for the Peachtree Road Race. I’m starting to see that the time standards for that group – a 1:33:00 Half Marathon (or 41:59 10k) are going to take a lot of work to accomplish. The McMillan Calculator says I’m capable of a 44:13 10k and a 20:31 5k (which I have already beat). 1:33:00 Half Marathon means moving from my 7:30 pace to a 7:06 pace.
I’m still not seriously contemplating the full Marathon. For now, it’s too much of a time investment to train for. I don’t foresee a huge amount of time opening up for me to train. I also feel like in the long term, it’s destructive to my body to run the distances I need to do in the course of training.
The application process has also begun for our company’s soccer team. I applied last year, but wasn’t selected to try out. I’m hoping to get to the tryout phase this year and make the team – so selection for tryouts will change my workout routines. In the meantime, I’m trying to make sure I get playing time regularly and I’ll be doing sprints training as well.