Friday, November 26, 2010

Atlanta Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Atlanta Half Marathon
November 25, 2010
Thanksgiving Day
Half Marathon: #15/50
Weather: 60 degrees, foggy, 96% humidity

The Atlanta Half Marathon is held annually on Thanksgiving day. It fit perfectly into our schedule this year. We were able to get a decently late flight out and then a flight back early enough to not miss Thanksgiving dinner. This is one of the last races I've booked travel for where I really didn't leave much time in between landing and getting to the expo before it closed. With NO race day pick-up, it was VERY important that we get there in time.

The flight out of Denver left on time and was actually shorter than we thought. We landed about 20 minutes early. Sigh of relief! Then we are trying to get to the rental cars, and realize we need to take a train to get there. We keep following the signs... following the signs... by now we have been speed walking over 20 minutes and I am developing a blister on the back of my right heel. I really had no idea we could have taken the train to get there. All the signs just kept pointing straight. Anyway. By now I am getting CRANKY. The expo was scheduled to close at 8:00, and according to my map, would take about 30 minutes to get there. And that was NOT accounting for traffic. We finally get to the train and L is moving slowly, the doors start to close and I stand in the doorway and get yelled at "you can't hold the doors!" (haha, watch me). The train leaves, we book it off the train and get to the Avis counter at 6:45 pm.

The chick working at the desk was possibly the slowest moving human alive. She gets all the way through the transaction (to the point where I've declined coverage and I say I'll fill it up before bringing it back) and she hit a wrong button and dumped the whole transaction and was going to have to start over. I'm seriously stressing and getting pissed now. Seriously? She gets to the end of the transaction and she mutters something about me having another car out. I ask her to repeat what she just said, and she says "Do you have another car out with us right now? I can't rent you another car until you return it." Uh, what? The last car I rented was a few weeks ago, and obviously I already returned that. She keeps messing around on the computer, and nothing is happening, I mention I am in a huge rush and if she can't fix it she needs to get a manager over. By now it is almost 7:00. She says, no, she can't fix it she will have to get someone. Yet instead of standing up she is still sitting there. I am freaking out. L and I are trying to figure out if we even have the time/cash to put her in a cab to get to the expo. I would still need to write a letter giving her permission to get my packet and a copy of my drivers license.

Another employee comes over, asks if I have rented a car from Budget. I respond with "ever in my life? Yes." He rolls his eyes and walks away. Am I being punked??? What IS it with these people? Finally a manager comes over, and she is also the slowest moving person in the world. She finds out that of course I have returned all my vehicles, it was just entered wrong in their system, and "oops."  I ask how I am supposed to prevent this in the future, she says if I have a receipt, that is proof that I have returned the car. Obviously I get a receipt every time I return a car, maybe I just need to carry a file with me. Grrr. FINALLY get the car, and head to the expo. We get there with less than 25 minutes to spare, and I am even MORE annoyed to find that they have the expo hosted at a place where you have to pay for parking. Yes, even if you are running in for two minutes. I HATE THAT. FYI, race directors, no one gives a crap how nice the hotel is, we would all rather be able to get in and out without having to pay.

We are there late enough that everyone is packing up, so we get our numbers and shirts, walk around a few minutes, and head out. It's 8:00 pm and we still haven't had dinner and checked in to our hotel. We mapquested and found an Applebee's... about 20 minutes away, and down a toll road (!!!). At least we had good service! I made sure to NOT eat as much as last week, although I ordered the same thing.
Chicken Penne Pasta

Mmmm Dessert
The hotel we were staying at was back by the expo, so another 20 minutes on the road to get there. We get a little lost, but find it. I go inside, choosing to use the kiosk to check in, thinking it would be faster. It recognizes me but then keeps asking for additional information for the reservation. Annoyed, I cancel out, and get in line behind the three people at the desk. By the time I get to the front, the lady takes my info, only to tell me I am not staying at THAT Hyatt, I am at the one a few buildings down. Hate.Atlanta. Drive a half a block, and see it. I again decide to check in using the kiosk. My receipt prints out... blank. I still have to go to the desk. Annoyed. Have to park in a parking garage and then go up and down flights of stairs and outside to get to our room. It's almost 10:00 by now. I feel a teeny tiny bit better with how nice our room was though. Shocking, I almost always pay for the cheapest room, they must have been running a special with Orbitz!

Get everything ready for morning and I finally have a chance to look at the blister on the back of my hill. It is huge. I finally decide to pop it NOW, rather than wait until morning. It hurt and it was gross, and almost immediately I was thinking I should have just left it alone. Oh well. Set the alarm, and go  to sleep.

I did NOT sleep well. I woke up a few times, and was tossing and turning all night. Got out of bed at 5:10, got dressed, and headed out the door. Mapquest had it as a 25 minute or so drive, and the race information suggested we get there at least an hour early because otherwise parking might be really far. We manage to follow a string of cars that gets us to a parking lot literally a few blocks from the start line. Score!

Start line is at Turner Field
It had rained the night before and was VERY foggy when we got out of the car. Even though it was a little chilly, and we were close to the start, we decided to head over to the port-o-potties to make sure we had enough time. It felt VERY humid.
About an hour until the start, still setting up!
30 minutes to start
The starting area was very organized and there were plenty of bathrooms (for once!) We were able to cycle through three times and dropped our bags off. We got our pre-race pictures done early, L was put in a corral starting 6 minutes before me, and she chose not to come back to my wave (sniff, sniff).

Blurry, but our outfits were festive!
I was alone in the corral, and it was crowded. Very crowded. I was thinking that we were in the 5th start, so I wasn't really paying much attention when we started surging forward.

Heading toward the start, at least 2 corrals already running!
Literally less than a minute after I get my headphones in, the race starts. I didn't have much time to plan, but that was ok. Looking at the elevation profile the night before it looked like there were only two major hills, one between miles 1 and 2, and one around mile 12. I set out the same way I usually do, and figured I'd coast through the middle part.

It was harder than I expected. I was keeping a decent (almost too fast pace) but the humidity was really getting to me and I was sweating way more than I usually do. I normally don't really like running through city courses, but this one (even with it being so foggy) had some neat sights.

After the second water station (just past mile 4), we ran over a bridge, and I thought it smelled REALLY bad, like sewage. Then I noticed a girl to my right... she had poop all over her butt and it was soaking through her running tights. Only between mile 4 and 5??? That's horrible... but I spent a while after that thinking about her. What WOULD you do??? I mean, it's not like I pack extra clothes when I run, and sometimes I suppose shit just happens... Oy.

Somewhere around mile 5
Right about mile 5 is when I really started to suffer. I must have misread the elevation profile because it seems like it was just one hill after another. It was hot, humid, hilly. Every hill seemed to go on FOREVER and it felt like I was barely moving. It was a relief to not have to worry about a PR, but honestly, at this point, I was more concerned with NOT walking and just finishing in a respectable time.

Right before 10k mat in Piedmont Park
There seemed to be extra water stations on the course, and I was relieved to have the excuse to walk. The only time I permit myself to walk is during a water station (even after all this time I canNOT seem to walk and drink at the same time).

I cross the 10k mat in 57:26 and I am 100% certain that I cannot continue this pace the rest of the course. I am really at a loss of words to describe this course. Hard and horrible are the ones that come to mind :D

Crossing the bridge toward the capitol, I think between mile 10 and 11
I am spending most of the race cursing at my headphones (I had bought a new pair of Yurbuds right before Greece and they are already not staying in my ears >:( and negotiating with myself with possible walk breaks). Then I finally settle with "doing my best" and "even a slow jog is faster than walking."

By the last water station at  mile 12 I am completely drained. My quads are on fire, I am exhausted, hot, sweaty, and in a foul mood. Just in time for the ridiculously huge hill right at the end. Who designed this insane course???

I am again one of the few people who is still jogging - probably half the people are walking. I look at them and am envious that I cannot force myself to do that. I finally see the final stretch. FINALLY seems to be flat, maybe even slightly downhill. I force myself to move as fast as I can toward the finish. It's hard, and I have really not been this happy to cross the finish line in a LONG time.

Elevation Profile
I get my medal and am off to try and find L. Normally she meets me at the end, and this time she should have been there for sure, she is faster AND she started 6 minutes before me. I don't see her, so I head to bag drop, get food, check the family meeting place... still can't find her. I walk around the whole finishing area, head back to the car, STILL can't find her. I leave some stuff under the car because I am tired of carrying it. I cross the course and go to the other side to see if I can find her.

I get stopped by an older gentleman that says "What was your time?" I tell him around 2:05:30, and he says "I tried to stay with you most of the race." This is now the third race in a row someone has approached me and said something like that. This race was terrible and I hardly was pacing well, I can't believe I actually helped someone. While scanning the crowds looking for L, I saw these guys, actually running with huge packs!! And I thought what I had done was tough!

I finally found L about 45 minutes after I had finished, we gimped slowly back to the car. Her quad was still bothering her, and my legs were tight, not to mention my blister was finally starting to rebel.

Start/Finish Line
Official Time - 2:05:32
Overall Place - 3989/8866
Gender Place - 1344/4304
Division Place - 222/617
Garmin Time: 2:05:31
Garmin Distance - 13.16 miles
Mile 1 - 9:05 pace
Mile 2 - 8:41 pace
Mile 3 - 8:59 pace
Mile 4 - 8:35 pace
Mile 5 - 9:28 pace
Mile 6 - 10:09 pace
Mile 7 - 9:40 pace
Mile 8 - 10:21 pace
Mile 9 - 10:10 pace
Mile 10 - 9:55 pace
Mile 11 - 9:33 pace
Mile 12 - 9:54 pace
Mile 13 - 9:37 pace
Mile 13.1 - 7:22 pace

The finishers medal was really nice... heavy!!

With all the time it took to find each other after the race, shower, have lunch, we didn't have time for an "activity."
Lunch ended up being at IHOP, it's hard to find places that are open on Thanksgiving! We headed back to the airport, and had a fairly uneventful flight back. Even though our flight was slightly detoured in air because of storms, we landed only a few minutes late, and we were sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with my family before 7:00 pm. Awesome dinner of turkey, stuffing, squash, and both chocolate cheesecake (my favorite) and pumpkin pie.

State #15... Done.

Half Marathon Map



  1. Great report! Hills at the end are so cruel! Happy holidays.

  2. I have a few comments/questions so I will list them out.

    1) Awesome Half Marathon to take place in Lexington, KY on 4/3/2011! This is not the same one as last year in Ky and should be much better. Registration opens today!

    2) How do you take a picture of your Iphone screen?

    3) Do you carry a camera with you during your races or use your phone? I love the race pics you take :)

    Happy Holidasy!

  3. You have some terrible/funny travel stories! I'm sure they aren't funny at the time, though. Our Thanksgiving was humid, too, and I was surprised how much it affected me. I got used to this nice fall weather!

  4. Besides Atlanta being a cluster*ck, at least the medal is really nice! I've thought of doing the Atlanta marathon or half in March because my sister lives down there but I hate Atlanta so much that it would probably be a mess.

  5. Wow - that WAS a hilly course! You were either up or down, no flats! I can't believe someone shat themselves. I would pull off to the bushes before I did that unless I was in first place and there was a big purse to be won. Do you think she ran like that for another 9 miles? GROSS!
    Today is our last full day in La Jolla and I'm sad. We come about 1x/year and always so sad to leave.
    You'll have to keep me posted about the Indy mini marathon. I think it usually fills up in December so you'll have to let me know if you decide to run it. We can meet up!

  6. Blech sounds like a tough day. humidity and hills are not my friend. Very cool start/finish though!

  7. Definitely sounds like a tough one...funny that you ended up at IHOP for Thanksgiving. I had one of those Thanksgiving as well one year!

  8. Ack, sounds like it was rough going from the travel on through the race. I love your race reports - great job on a tough course!

  9. I feel like I have so much to say! Where to start?? I pretty much read this whole thing aloud to my mom because I just kept gasping and empathizing!

    1st... I HATE Atlanta! When I realized it was Atlanta that you had your car rental troubles it all made sense. Everyone there moves soooooo slow. And they seem to all have degrees in being rude and lazy. 2nd... my last rental car experience in Orlando was a nightmare, too. Not as bad as yours, but still ridiculously slow and issues arising. Fortunately I didn't have a timeline, but still.

    Poor girl with the, um, potty issues. My mom and I discussed it. Also said, "what can you really do??" So I realize that as prude as I am, I would have to dive off to a bush or something BEFORE it ended up just going down my pants.

    I shouldn't have read this while sitting by the fire. I felt like I was there with you - in the humidity and heat!

    Oh yeah - and I've had the same hotel issue. Nothing like bringing in all of your bags and then they tell you that you have to go down the street to one with the same exact name!

    BUT .... Congrats on finishing yet another race! That is so cool that people pace off of you. I'd try to do that in February - but you'd leave me in your dust with those speedy times!

  10. 96% humidity + hills! What?? You did awesome!!! I love the medal!!!

  11. Nooo way would I do that. I would stop and find a bathroom even if it meant adding an HOUR to my race time. My dignity is not worth a few minutes saved. There is always another race or even next year.

    Sorry, just can't get over that. Really you have to wonder what Would you do? Not sh*t my pants. Ever.

    Great race recap as always!!

  12. Hi Becka:

    I just wanted to pop in and say hello and thank you for validating my feeling about this course. I was looking on the internet specifically with the hope that someone else complained about this course as much as I did to anyone who would listen. I ran it also (albeit *much much* slower than you and slower than my last 1/2), it was a nightmare, but a very good tour of Atlanta. All of the major races here are hilly like that. Course (and your race schedule) considered, you did an awesome job. Even though I live in ATL, the, ummm, "pace" of life, if you can even call it that, irritates me too. Sorry it was such a hassle, especially when you are on such an amazing mission like the 50 states challenge. The very best of luck to you :)



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