1:29:15 115th overall
This was the 4th time I have done this race (2009 report here), with last year’s National Half Marathon being the only time I have missed the Georgia Half. This result was good for a 6 minute PR overall and a 10 minute PR for this course.
I stayed downtown near the start which made race morning a breeze. I took care of all my morning stuff at the hotel and walked the 1/2 mile to the start with 30 minutes till the start. I got in a warmup around the Georgia Dome to get the legs and heart pumping again.
With my predicted time I was in the sub-seeded “B” corral towards the front so I didn’t have any trouble getting to the right spot with a couple minutes to spare. That’s a big deal because a race with more then 10,000 people can become very hectic when it gets close to start time.
As for the race itself I had a plan from my coach which was based on heart rates instead of pace because the hills on this course make trying to maintain a consistent pace counterproductive.
The start was a bit frustrating and more crowded then I would have expected, I got boxed in behind slower runners a few times and then was stuck behind a big group following the 1:30 pacer. But I guess it’s just another lesson learned to make sure I’m closer to the front.
The first 2.5 miles were suppose to be at a lower HR to ease into the race and take advantage of the initial downhill section but I had lots of trouble with my HR monitor and was getting some bad readings. I spent some time messing around with the strap but backed off the pace a bit just make sure I didn’t go out too fast and sabotage the rest of the race. This is the section where I probably lost at least 30 seconds in my overall time because my perceived level of effort for this section was not very high.
After the first 2.5 I bumped the HR up and got into a good rhythm by keeping the HR in check and not going to hard up the hills and then bombing down the hills. I got into a good flow and the miles just ticked away. One interesting note is I finally figured out how to drink from the water cups at aid stations while still running which is something I’ve never been able to figure out until now.
Atlanta was a lot hillier then I remembered it being. The hill out of Piedmont park was very tough and then running through tech was very hilly as well. There are hills in Maryland that I run so I wasn’t unprepared, but the difference is Maryland is more rolling hills on a gradual incline and things in Atlanta are usually shorter and steeper.
After the hill on Tech Parkway at about mile 11 I bumped the HR up again. This is where they played a mean trick with the race clocks (was probably a just a mistake and not intentional). I was only using HR on my watch as that was all my plan cared about so I wasn’t seeing my total time. When I came to the clock at mile 12 I saw 1:17:xx which mean if I ran a 7 minute mile I could break 1:25:00. The problem was I should have recalled that the mile 11 marker was 1:13:xx and I didn’t just run a 4 minute mile, but I will blame that lapse on being tired from the race and not wanting to do mental math. That meant the mile 12 was several minutes behind so I was very shocked and disappointed to see 1:29 on the clock as I entered the finish chute.
This is the table my coach made for me about how well I was able to execute my race plan and it looks really good. The only exception being .5-1 where I got caught up in the crowd and spent a lot of energy trying to pass people and find open road.
With the half marathon done it’s time to recover for a couple days and then start the build up for the triathlon season. Eagleman is three months away and the first race of the year is less then one month away!