|photo courtesy of Lee|
When I arrived at Chateau Elan on Saturday, it was an overcast morning with the temps in the upper 40‘s. It was going to be a good day for running and I knew it. I could feel the competitive spark re-ignite inside, the one I was missing in Ft. Lauderdale a couple weeks ago.
While waiting in the starting area, I chatted with Tina, Kristy, and Lee. We shared our goals for the day, along with words of encouragement. As a race ambassador, Kristy had run the course a couple times and was able to give us some pointers on what to expect. It really helped me get my head right.
|photo courtesy of Tina|
I had charged my Garmin the night before, but when I took it out of my bag at the race it was already on. Uh oh. At mile 2, I got the expected “low battery” warning on the screen. This sent me to the brink of an anxiety attack. Seriously, I was freaked out. There were no course clocks, so I’d be running completely blind.
I started bargaining with the man upstairs to take my iPod, please just leave me my Garmin!
My splits were 7:18, 6:49 (yikes!), 7:11 for the first 3 miles. I felt really good. Too good, and I was worried I’d set myself up for a crash with a fast start.
Just before mile 4 is when it shut off. Oh the terror, I was left to pace myself purely by feel now.
|Literally running blind here (source)|
If I’m really pushing myself I can crank out 3-4 miles at 7:30/mi pace on my training runs. Typically I hover around the 7:50-8:00/mile mark for my runs. It still amazes me to see numbers in the low 7’s when I’m racing. To see a sub 7 minute mile during a half….how does that even happen?
It was probably a good thing after all. I know from previous races I let the Garmin mess with my head. I would have doubted myself and pulled back more had I seen a split starting with a 6.
Right around mile 4 is also when the pack had thinned out, leaving me as second female. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s harder to be the chaseé rather than the chaser. I could see the lead runner ahead of me the entire time, and while she served as a target, I was more worried about someone sneaking up behind me. I kept anxiously looking over my shoulder to make sure no one was there.
I’d rank this course as moderately hilly by Atlanta standards. They were the “right kind of hills” if you want to call them that, similar to the one pictured below. Even though you felt the burn by the top, you had a nice downhill to recover. Different muscle groups were being worked, and it keep it from feeling too monotonous.
|We were treated to this roller coaster ride the entire way (source)|
It was only the last 3 miles or so when you got back onto the Chateau Elan property where you encountered the short, steep variety of hills that were packed closely together. And don’t forget the uphill finish. With a half mile to go you could see the finish line...sitting on top of a hill with a meandering road to reach it.
|NOT Chateau Elan.....just what it looked like through my eyes as I came into the home stretch.|
The killer? They were in the process of switching the finish line clock back from 5k timing (they offered both distances )to the half marathon as I crossed the line. I had no idea what my finish time was! I had to wait to find out.
I was a hurtin' chica, but I felt strong to the end. Boy was I psyched to see my finishing time was 1:33:33 when I checked at the timing kiosk inside. A new PR!!!
The post race refreshments they provided were, um, interesting….
I get that they were going for a healthy mix of carbs and protein, so I’ll give them that....but yeah, that is a peeled hard-boiled egg in a baggie (that had been sitting out unrefrigerated).
There was an ample supply of champagne flowing to make up for it though. Maybe not what an empty, dehydrated belly needed, but I was in a celebrating mood and sampled a little of each kind. (Not to worry, I was responsible :))
Not only was it a good day for racing, but it was fun day with friends. Everyone ended the day with some speedy race times, and a lot of smiles.
If you told me in the beginning of this year I'd be ending it with a 1:33:33 half marathon finish, I would have thought you were nuts! But there you have it, the 6th and final half marathon of 2011 is in the history books.
Chip time: 1:33:33