I don’t want to jump too much back and forth between the present and telling my story. But I am doing some racing this Fall that I wanted to share more presently, as opposed to months down the road. My goal is to catch up all the way til now, to avoid so much jumping around, but that could take awhile. And everyone knows I love running so much that I’m training for a 100 miler, so I’m not spoiling anything…
Last weekend, 10/6/2013, was the Allstate 13.1 in Atlanta. I put this race on my radar late in the Summer and I didn’t know what I would be able to do since I took all of July off from running. I really needed to take a break to rest my body and even my mind after completing my first 50 mile race. Also running during the Summer here in Atlanta is brutal, so I wanted to get out of the humidity and heat. When I picked running back up in late July, I took it super easy. I didn’t want to rush into things. It took me a few weeks to get back into shape, after having rusted legs from my break.
After that initial period, things really started to click for me. Last Summer I did the same thing by taking a whole month off and came back strong. So this time it wasn’t a real surprise. Part of me wanted to just take this Fall easy and not have a goal race in mind. But after some solid running, my race calendar for the end of 2013 quickly filled up. The Allstate half marathon was my first big race since my break I wanted to do great in.
My goal for the race was 1:30. I’m not sure why I even chose that number to be honest. My speed workouts leading up to the race were going very well and my confidence for achieving my goal was high. I knew the course was very hilly though. I did a practice course run that a training group did a few weeks prior to the race. That helped out a lot because I remembered as much as I could, where the hills were. That and I was banking on cool temps race day, so I was ready.
The morning of the race was humid though. I didn’t dwell on that. I was confident in my training. My strategy for the race was to do the first 3-4 miles below my race pace, to get a good warm up and then to settle in.
The gun went off and people made their charge. Pacing, especially during the initial excitement is something I have been working on. I let everyone take off, while I kept my focus. I took an easy pace and focused on relaxing. About a half a mile into the race the 1:35 pace group caught up with me. I didn’t freak out, but I didn’t want to fall even more behind my goal. I stayed with them going passed the first mile marker. A little slower than what I was shooting for, but I was okay with that. I needed to make up a little time though. I spaced myself more and more from that pace group to get on track.
Miles 2, 3 and 4 clicked by. I had settled in perfectly to what I wanted for the first part of the race. I took my first GU and really my only one since I couldn’t really take one down breathing so damn hard later in the race. At this point I started to pick up my pace. I was feeling very solid and even better, comfortable. Each mile marker I was hitting my pace right on time. I was dominating the hills by pumping my arms and passing people one by one.
Things were great but coming up to mile 10, I believe, was brutal. I remembered from the course run, the long massive hill going up past A local high school. I also remembered this was one of the last and definitely the biggest hills of the race. So with that, I charged it and gave it my all. I was spent by the time I got to the top! The course flattened out for a bit just after that but at that point I didn’t think I was going to have a strong finish.
Just at that point there was a large cheering section. A lady yelled “only a 5K left! You’re doing awesome!” That lifted my spirits and I was back in attack mode. I was hurting. My breathing was heavy and my legs had a few twinges that scared hell out of me thinking they might end up being full on cramps. I pushed on and focused on relaxing. I also focused on the fact I was still on pace, my hydration and nutrition hadn’t caused any troubles in my stomach and that I was doing what I love to do. Always focus on the positives, never the negatives. It makes the task at hand so much more easier.
At mile 12, I had a little competition with me. He was the first person since the beginning to pass me. But I didn’t let him. I matched him. We never said a word to each other but we both knew either of us wasn’t going to let up. We pushed the pace. About a half a mile to go, I made my kick. I felt I had some left in the tank. He kept up with me. A quarter of a mile to go, I started to give it my all. I didn’t want to regret leaving some left to look back on, wishing or thinking I could have done better. He couldn’t hang on, it was just me.
I made the final turn and could see the clock. I was going to get my goal and some. There’s something uplifting about a race finish line. Maybe because it’s a visible finish to what you’ve been working on. Or it’s just the fact that you can finally rest at the specific point. Whatever it is I was beyond happy when I crossed it at 1:29:30. An 11 and a half minute PR.
I feel like a bum for using the proof photos, but I think it’s a bit ridiculous to charge $25 per image.