Race Report: Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon

This is the second year in a row that my husband and I have run the Atlanta Track Club Thanksgiving Half Marathon.  Last year, my husband ran it with me because I had asked him while I was still pregnant if he would sign up with me.  (How can a husband look at his very pregnant wife and say no?!) This year Jon is the one who asked me to run because he wanted to complete the Atlanta Track Club Triple Peach series, and this was the final race in the series. I’m never one to turn down a race! (Or a running husband!)

Jon’s family had come into town from Arkansas, and his dad signed up to run the 5k while we ran the half marathon.  (Jon’s family is amazing, and we always look forward to visits with them.  His aunts and uncles are all hardcore athletes.  It’s pretty cool.)  The three of us drove down to the start area while Jon’s siblings stayed behind to watch Cadence at our house.  We gave ourselves plenty of time for parking, and I pumped in the car in the parking lot once we got settled.  The temperatures had been projected to be in the 30s-40s, but as the sun started to come up, we realized that it would be a warmer day than forecast.  I changed into shorts in the car, and I’m so thankful that I did! (Below, don’t I have a hot husband?!)

When it came close to the race start time, Jon and I went to the portapotties for one last try, and then we ran to the corrals.  We probably cut it a little closer than we should have (especially after just sitting in the car waiting), but we made it to the middle of corral A before the gun went off.  There was a lot of weaving in the beginning, and I have to admit that I get pretty annoyed when very slow runners decide to start at the front of a competitive race.  I am very supportive of anyone who wants to run, but I think we would all have a better time if we started in the appropriate wave. (Right?)

I was hoping to use this race as a gauge of my current marathon training cycle, so I wanted to target at least ~6:50 pace.  Lately I have had some ankle pain, and I was afraid that this might limit me.  Once the race started, I felt light and free, and I was able to easily knock out paces in the mid- 6s.  The course was very hilly, but that did not seem to affect me until about halfway through the race.  I did have to slow down on the hills by around mile 8, but I never felt like I was racing with all of my effort.thanksgivingsplits

I finished with an average pace of 6:41 (gun pace of 6:48), and it definitely wasn’t easy at the end, but I always felt like there was something left in the tank to push harder.  The hills in that race (and every Atlanta race) are no joke, so I’m hoping that a flatter marathon course will be all the easier for me to knock out my paces.  I know that there is a huge difference between the half marathon and the full marathon, but I still feel encouraged by my results.

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Overall, I finished 8th female out of 3,582 female runners, and 3rd in my age group.  The Atlanta Track Club hosts some competitive races, so I am always humbled to try to keep up with the big dogs! 🙂

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On another note, I’ve been having fun with a new running toy, the Milestone Pod, to help me stay aware of my gait mechanics. Below are some of the data points that the little pod offers.  My stride length is normally in the mid forties on training runs, so it is interesting that it is longer in a racing environment.  I’m hoping to improve my ground contact time, but so far, I haven’t managed to lower it.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  Now on to Christmas!!

Race Report: PNC Atlanta 10 Miler

My husband and I signed up for the Triple Peach race series through the Atlanta Track Club img_20161023_135538in the beginning of the year, and the second of the three ATC races was held this past Sunday.  The series includes the Fourth of July AJC Peachtree Road Race 10k, the PNC Atlanta 10 Miler, and the Thanksgiving Half Marathon.  After just running the Yeti 100 at the end of September, I have been taking a mini break from running in October, focusing on cross training and strength work.  But I was curious to see what kind of speed my legs had in them after pushing my limits on a 100 mile race three weeks ago.

Plus, I am determining my next race goals, so I wanted to see what a sustainable fast pace would feel like.  I did not go into the 10 miler with a goal to “race”, but rather to get a feel for my legs to see if November would be practical to jump right back into training. On Saturday the day before the race, I “hiked” 5 hilly miles with the dog and stroller and then did 2.5 hours of strength work.  The PNC Atlanta 10 Miler was not a goal race, so I was not concerned about tired legs from the strength work.

We woke up the morning of the race, got dressed, and dropped the baby off with a babysitter. I pumped in the car, and then we sat in race day traffic trying to get into the parking deck at Atlantic Station, where the race start and finish were located.  Once parked, Jon and I ran to the start area with the hopes of finding porta potties on the way.  I wanted to try to go before the race started, but unfortunately, the lines were really long, and the porta potties were very poorly located right in the race line-up traffic.  Jon waited with me in line, and then we hurried to line up for the race as it was starting.

This race was a “self-seed” but we were so late that we ended up running with Wave C, not my first choice.  As soon as we lined up for the start of our wave, I realized that I had forgotten my music in the car.  I really love to run with music, especially if I am going to put forth effort on the run.  Given that we were starting with the C wave, I knew that this wasn’t going to be an A race anyway, so I shook it off and waited for the gun.

The weather was perfect for a fall run in the low 40s with sunshine.  The race started for our wave about 5 minutes after the first wave was released.  I raced ahead out of the crowd and pretty quickly reached the previous wave participants who had already reduced their paces to a jog or walk.  This course surprised me in how hilly it was, and I had a little more challenge weaving around other slower runners on the uphills in the beginning of the race.  Within a few miles, I was relatively unhindered by my wave start and did not have to weave quite as much as we all spread out.

For an early, cooler Sunday morning, crowd support was fantastic!  There were several posts with great cheerleaders dressed in different themes along the course.  Water and fuel were provided, but I did not pay attention to the frequency, as I did not need to hydrate or fuel for such a short distance in the cooler temps.

I felt strong for the entire race. It was hilly, but I enjoyed the hills.  I stopped looking at my paces on my watch because the ups and downs of the hills made paces so hard to track for an overall average, and I was really just focused on seeing how my legs felt, not how fast I could run.  I was putting forth effort, but I never felt like I was exerting for a race pace.

After just running 100 miles, 10 miles really does not seem like that far, even if it is with a greater intensity.  When we reached mile 9, I picked up the pace a little and finished strong.  I had no idea where my place among the females would be, as I started in Wave C.  After the race, I found out the results that I finished 8th overall female and 2nd in my age group.  My overall pace was 6:44 min/mile, which makes me feel more confident about my future race goals for the marathon.

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Overall, both my husband and I had a great time running the Atlanta 10 Miler.  10 miles is a middle distance right between trying to run really fast but still maintain some steam for endurance.  The ATC did a great job putting on the race, from packet pick-up to race execution.  My only complaint was that the porta potties were placed in a very bad location so that the lines were cramped near the start. It was our fault for arriving without time to spare. Life is very different with a baby but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

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Have you run your first fall race of the season yet?  Cooler temperatures are glorious!