Thursday, November 22, 2007

Atlanta Half Marathon Race Report

Okay, so I guess I shouldn't be totally surprised that I did not run my best race ever. And, I'm not. It is what it is. No worries. I definitely have a few comments though.

That's a surpise, huh?

Little patience while I bitch about MARTA, k?

Sooooo.......MARTA proves it is NOT smarta. Again. See, I am one of those rare breeds and I am actually from Atlanta. Born at Northside Hospital. Lived in family housing at GA Tech as a baby. I've had addresses in Atlanta, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Marietta and Roswell. And for as long as I can remember the slogan for MARTA has been take MARTA its smarter. And in the 36 years I have lived in metro Atlanta? I have yet to experience the promised genius of MARTA. I think those guys in the horse and carriages outside the Westin might actually be a more reliable, quicker choice.

Generally, I have nothing bad to say about Atlanta Track Club. But the fact that they keep recommending in their race packets for people to take MARTA is starting to piss me off. Please, stop doing that.

Nevertheless, Doug and Steph and I parked at the finish. It took us less than 30 minutes to get to the Ted from outside the perimeter and that was with getting a little lost trying to find the stadium parking. I know you are wondering why park at the finish and not the start but this is because--at least this was the thinking--it is better to jog that mile to the MARTA station from the finish before the race rather than after. Especially today considering the weather forecast. Oh yeah, and there is also lots of stairs to go up and down at the MARTA stations. Certainly not on my list of favorite things to do after a race.

Well, this is the absolute last time I am depending on MARTA to get me to the start of a race or really, anywhere that I need to be in a timely fashion. It is a just a joke.

We got to the finish about 5:40 am. Race starts at 7 am. You'd think an hour twenty would be plenty of time. You'd think. We waited forever for the train. More time than it actually took to ride said train. Absolutely ridiculous. We got to the start about 6:58. Of course, I had to pee. I heard the race start from inside the portolet. As I sprinted to the start I heard "Happy Thanksgiving Runners! Have a great race and if you hear thunder take cover."

Exactly what I want to hear.

So I was at the back of the pack and had to dodge and weave and dodge and weave. Oh well. I really didn't set a time goal for this race since I am STILL sick. Doug was merciless with his ribbing at my hacking and sniffling. (Hope you don't sick Dougels!Mwah! Kisses) I figured under an hour 50 was reasonable. I ran 1:42 last year and had hoped that I could get under that but knew when I woke up this morning that any sort of Atlanta PR was not going to happen.

That first mile I ran mostly on the sidewalk or in the grass. I started crying about a minute in, remembering last year. I said my prayer for Evan, told myself I'm not allowed to quit and just dealt with it.

Mile one came in at 7:30. I had no idea how far back I started. I passed lots of people. I believe the rain also started at the end of the first mile.

I hit 2 miles at 15 minutes and the crowd was still very thick. It was totally pouring. It sucked.

At 3 miles I started to feel dizzy, my head hurt, my shoes were soaked and heavy and it was still raining. I really wanted to quit. Remembered that I wasn't allowed to quit. Cursed a little bit and figured well, only 10 more miles. I've run more than 10 miles in rain. I can deal. For me, it always helps if I go down my running list of things that have sucked or were painful to get through the tough times in a race. I ask myself: Worse than labor? Nope. Worse than OBX? Nope. Worse than broken pelvis? Nope. ING Heat exhaustion? Nope. Losing Evan? Never.

So I had my pity party really early and hit 3 miles in 23 minutes.

Mile 4 was 30 minutes.

Mile 5 I had a coughing fit. Some guy made a SARS comment. It came in around 38 minutes. I think it had stopped raining or was just lightly so.

Around mile six I passed the butcher chasing the turkey. I commented that he must be regretting that plush now. The turkey asked if we could swap outfits. I told him I had a cold and was miserable enough as is. He persisted and said that it would keep me warm. I picked up the pace and ran on. I think 6 was around 47 minutes. I asked someone what the last split called was and I calculated I was about 2 or so minutes behind.

I don't remember mile 7 but this is when you start the climb into Atlanta. This is when the fun ends(--not that I was having any). You start seeing smiles fade to grimaces. Cheers fall to curses. This is where you realize that yeah, I'm earning that turkey this year. And those bad things--as Steph says-- that you did to sweet potatoes? Inconsequential. You realize, as you meet hill after hill, that your waist-- your weight will be immune to all that fat and calories this Thanksgiving.

Mile 8 was around 1:03.

Mile 9 my nose started to run. It kept the pace that I had lost. Sniffing, wiping--didn't help. Total snotty mess. Oh, yeah. The wind kicked up here too. Whatever, I thought. Really I think those last 4 miles are always windy. Must be a top of the hill thing or something.

I don't remember mile 10. Probably more snot, wind, wet heavy shoe misery.

Mile 11 my nose had stopped running but then I had another fun coughing fit. I could hear myself wheezing and people were looking at me with that--uh-do-you-need-help-cause-you're-kinda-scary-sounding-but-I-really-don't-want-to-be-the-one-to-help-you-because-I-totally-don't-want-whatever-is-wrong-with-you-so-I'm-just-gonna-look-concerned-but-not-say-anything-look. I wished I had my inhaler with me. But I figured that if it got worse someone at an aid station would probably have one. Next time I decide to run with a chest cold I will definitely remember to bring it.

Got some water and recovered. I have no idea where the mile went but it seems suddenly I found myself in the last mile and was like, yeah, I'm done. I cranked out the last mile the best I could and passed a ton of people. Some guy encouraged me and yelled after me that I "looked great!" Yeah, right. I know I look like ass. But thanks for trying.

Saw the Olympic Rings and sprinted it out to the finish. Clock read 1:47 something. Garmin was 1:45 something.

It was frustrating because I had zero muscle/joint/body discomfort. I think even with the weather had I not had this never ending freaking cold I would have had a super race. But yes, I am very happy I did not run the full. I always forget how much those hills in the last 10k suck. They aren't terrible for the half but they are just torture in the marathon. So props and cheers and hugs to all the full marathoners today!

And great job to all my half compatriots: Steph, Doug, Wes, Wes's Dee Dee,-- and my Dee Dee (Dee Lo), Paige, Toby, Danielle, Sarah, and Diana. Sorry if I forgot any shout outs. I really hope everyone had a much better race than I did. Let me hear your Turkey race run down.

Now go, go eat your turkey, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, beer (drool). You deserve it.

Pam and Justin. We are thinking of you today. Like you, we are still missing Evan. Prayers, hugs and thoughts for you.


  1. I'm glad you had a great race, despite feeling like crapola! I did look for you, but gave up because there was like 10,000 people :-) I'm sure you passed us at some point, but I was probably focused on pacing the spousal unit! We finished in something like 3:07. I remember those hills so well from ING. Bastards! Happy Thanksgiving! You did Evan and all of us proud! Enjoy your turkey and get better!!

  2. congratulations to my stubborn - has to learn every thing the hard way- child. I am proud that you see it to the end, but please be wise about what you start! love lala

  3. I'm glad you survived. At times it was raining so hard I had to close my eyes to keep my contacts from washing out. At least the temps were fairly warm. Initial forecasts predicted temps in the low 40s.

    I'm more sore after running a half with heavy wet shoes than I was after the last full.

  4. Sub 2hrs, AND sick. See, your amazing! Good job. ran your race, so RECOVER! let that cold go awayyy!

    Happy thanksgiving! :o)

  5. What a race man. I felt ya on the soggy shoe this really sucks moments. You turned that race out though, what a finish!

    And yah, I ate the hell out of the mashed potatoes yesterday. Mmmm....

  6. Congratulations Ms Natalie on your race! It's remarkable that you did so well with your cold and the rain.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. You did amazing like you always do! You are totally the female version of Joe Reger.....he seems to run super-fast despite illness as well.

    I know the race was about something much more than time anyways!

  8. Wow that was a great race! I just cam across your blog from Wes. Sweet to find another Atlanta area blogger who also bitches about MARTA:)

  9. I'm surprised you actually ran the half marathon, I was thinking you might come to your senses before the starting line, but I was wrong, you're wayyy more stubborn and addicted than I am about running races. I don't know whether to whip you with a wet noodle for risking your health, or giving you KUDOS for being one very tough chick!!

  10. I'm glad it all worked out. 1:45 in those conditions shows what you are made of. I probably would have keeled over by mile 7.

    Your race reminded me of college indoor track on the windy plains of Illinois. On the frigid, windy, snowy outdoor training runs we used to play that game: "Things that SUCK more than this run"

  11. Great job! I thought about you guys in the rain, and was thankful for the bum knee. I hate running in cold rain.

  12. How are you doing Ms Natalie?

    Hope all is going well!


  13. Hope you are doing OK.