Sunday was the ING Georgia Half Marathon in Atlanta. The race takes place in downtown Atlanta starting at Centennial Olympic Park and making a loop through most of the city.
This is the third year of the race and the second year of this course. The first year the race started and ended in Five Points and went through some not so great parts of town. The current course gives you a good tour of the city and has lots of rolling hills, especially in the last four miles. You need to save a little of energy for the end or you will really struggle. Overall I think this a very good and challenging course that doesn’t need any tweaks.
But I think the biggest difference from year #1 to now was moving the expo to the Georgia Dome. That made a world of difference in terms of parking and control of crowds. I have gone on Friday the last two years and never had to wait in line to get my packet.
Like I said before this was the third year of the race and the third time I have done the race and here are my past results and goal time for this year.
2009: goal of 1:40:00
Last year I didn’t budget enough time for the crowds and didn’t get to the start line early. The problem was I came into centennial park from the back corral so I had to push my way up towards the crowds of people closer to the start line and didn’t make it before the start of the race. To leave myself enough time this year I got a ride close to the start and got there in plenty of time.
It was in the forties the morning of the race which is a little chilly to be standing around waiting to run but it got into the fifties during the race which is perfect running weather. Here I am with Adam and his trash bag both looking cold.
One thing that surprised me was my predicted finish time put me in corral #1 which meant I was right behind the elite wave and in the first few hundred people across the start line and if a race with 12,000 people that makes navigating the traffic at the start of the race a lot better. And it was neat to be right up front at such a big race and see the huge crowds behind you.
My plan for this race was to split it into three parts, #1 take it easy for the first two miles to get through the traffic and warm-up, #2 settle into a 7:40 min/mile for the next 8 miles and #3 pick up the pace for the last 5k.
My Garmin had some trouble with the first mile of the race because of the all the skyscrapers, it had me running 1:48 min/mile at one point but once I got through the first mile and half it was fine. Here is the link to the training peaks workout file:
So how did I do?
I think this chart with my pace for the three sections sums it up the best. The first two splits are the first two miles. I didn’t really run a 6:10 for the first mile, the Garmin was off but look at the third block. I was able to run exactly the pace I was trying to, 7:40 min/mile. The problem was the last 5k didn’t go down in pace, this was more an issue of the last three miles being mostly uphill and my increase in effort resulted in me not slowing down.
You can see the nasty hills starting around mile 10. If you are familiar with Atlanta the first is going up 10th street out of Piedmont Park and the second is going up Juniper, similar to the end of the Peachtree 10k last year and the third one is going up the hill by the football stadium at Tech. You can ignore the elevation in the first couple of miles, there was not a 350 foot climb that’s the skyscrapers messing with the signal.
Here are my splits by mile for the race and the change in elevation for each mile:
And here is the pace for the race. You can see a few big slowdowns around 30:00 and 45:00, and 1:00:00. This is due to the fast that I still can’t figure out how to drink from an aid station while running. I’ve tried collapsing the cup and just gulping it down but I can’t figure out how to drink without choking on while I’m running. And you can clearly see it costs me a few seconds during the race slowing down and speeding back again and it takes me out of rhythm.
Overall I think this was one of my best run races. I had goals in mind and ran the exact race I wanted and I negative split the race. Not much more I could ask for. The last 5k was really hard and I was exhausted crossing the finish line. I had some muscle soreness the next day but no injuries so I think ran things exactly right for my fitness level.
So here is the result, 54 seconds off of what I wanted but for how hilly the course was I am more then happy. This comes out to a 7:42 min/mile pace.
The thing that really surprised me was that I came in 475th place overall which is the top 5% overall and was in the top 10% of all males. Adam had a good race as well and ran a 1:28 and came in 97th overall.
Here’s a cell phone pick of me at the finish.
I should be back next year for try #4 and hopefully I’ll be shooting for a 1:30:00. Maybe they will give out a special medal if you make it to the first five.