Finally I am getting around to my race recap from last weekend’s race in Atlanta, GA. It has been a really busy week and it seems that pollen season is kicking major booty in my sinuses because I have felt run down all week, but pushed through all my workouts and had to take a day yesterday to just let my body rest and recover on top of getting through a day filled with migraine pain. But ENOUGH ABOUT THAT! On to the recap . . .
Last Saturday I picked up my Mom bright and early and we hit the road headed for the Georgia Half Marathon in Atlanta Sunday morning. I was so excited to not only have the company on the road trip, but to know that for the first time in my half marathon journey, my Mama would be at the finish line waiting for me. Let me tell ya, it makes a runner’s heart proud to know that there is someone there waiting and cheering for you at that finish line and for that person to be my Mama made those miles so much more worth it!
We were on the road around 7:30 am and opted to stop off for some breakfast at one of my Mom’s favorite breakfast spots in Thomasville, GA the Q Cafe. (I may be doing an “Eat Local” review on this little corner of goodness in the near future so stay tuned!) It was a hearty breakfast that would fuel us through the rest of the morning and early afternoon. As we arrived in Atlanta I had opted to go straight to packet pickup since our hotel didn’t allow check-in until 4 pm and supposedly, our hotel was just a mere half mile away so no biggie, right!?! Yeah, well, it was a half mile away from packet pickup which was at the Georgia World Conference Center, but getting around in a big city just left us
crying laughing to keep from crying! I had pre-purchased our parking permit for the garage (thank GOODNESS) so when we finally circled the block for the millionth time we got right in and trekked into the expo! Certainly an Ooooo-Ahhhhh session for anyone that has never been to a race Expo or let alone one that was big like this one. I walked straight back to grab my packet and then Mom and I walked around the Expo checking out the brands that were there. I loved that Lift Your Sole was there, as they have been at most of the larger race Expos and that Mom bought me a special charm to wear on my race day necklace that I wear. It reads Courage on one side and 13.1 on the back and I LOVE IT!
Since I had already seen most of these vendors at previous races this year, we opted to go grab some lunch because by this time it was getting late in the afternoon. We walked over to an american grille type restaurant with a view of the road and pedestrians, perfect for people watching as we enjoyed our food. Service on the other hand . . . not so hot! But this isn’t about that. Finally we finished up our lunch and headed to find our hotel. Yet another adventure began and good grief at the rude people we encountered this weekend. I was thankful for the child locks on the doors and windows, because though it was warranted many times over the weekend, it kept Mom from giving the Southern Salute to many deserving people! Checking into the hotel was quick and easy, finding a park on the other hand, not so much! I left Mom with the bags to head up to our room while I went two blocks down the road (yeah, race morning debacle coming soon) to park in one of the hotel’s alternate lots. After going to the wrong elevator, the wrong floor and the wrong room I finally found Mom at our room on the 34th floor of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis and the views were spectacular! As Mom posted on her Facebook page, “Auntie M, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore!” It was enough to make anyone that may not even be afraid of heights a bit queasy when looking over the side down to the lobby! But it was still gorgeous! (Well, as gorgeous as a view from the 34th floor of a hotel can be)
Since we had eaten lunch so late in the afternoon, we opted to checkout the hotel gift shop which also had a cold case with salads, sandwiches and other food items in it instead of heading to dinner. As I turned around to look at something else and turned back my Mom was on the floor at the entrance to the gift shop. Before I could stop myself I asked her, “MOM, What are you doing on the FLOOR!?!” She just gave me a little Mama J glare and said, “oh, I just thought I’d check things out down here! Duh, I fell!” As I attempted to help her up I saw that someone had spilled something on the marble floor of the entrance way and she slipped right down it with right on her knee. Let me tell you, I have never seen a hotel attendant swoop up behind us so fast asking if she was ok! They wrote up a report just in case she needed medical attention later or when we returned home and even called us later in the hotel to check on her. It was really nice, but to me this sealed the deal that we would be driving to the race start the next morning and an earlier wake up call to make sure we didn’t hit any traffic snares. I had already purchased the race day parking pass, so I had us covered.
We woke up at 3:30 am so that I could start my race day pre-race preparations and make sure we were out of the hotel on time. THANK GOODNESS we decided to get up early. As we walked the two blocks to the garage I had parked in the night before and rounded the corner my heart sunk and I immediately wanted to cry, the gate that I had entered and left my car was down and there was no way (that I saw) to access it to get to my car and get on the road to the race. “Let’s go back to the hotel” I said to Mom and in my head I was thinking, “they are buying us a freakin’ taxi to the start line!” We were almost back at the hotel and out came the crazies! I knew at that point there was NO WAY we were walking to that start line! As I approached the woman at the counter she assured me that there was a way to gain access to my car. The Valet attendant tried to explain where the other entrance to the garage was and I asked if he could just show us, which he did. After getting into the garage we spent the next 10 minutes, of what I am sure, was the security camera attendant’s laugh of the day when I couldn’t remember which floor my car was on and oh yeah, it was 5:15 am at this point!
Finally we found my car and made our way over to the parking garage and the race start. Last week, in classic MRTT (Moms RUN This Town) fashion, we had set a time for a group picture before the race and I was excited to see some of my friends from other chapters before we hit the road.
I was excited to see Paula from the Peachtree City, GA Chapter that I got to meet at the DONNA in February when I attempted my first marathon and she was to be running the full that day (and killed it with a 30 minute PR finishing in 4:20:49 which ROCKS!) I was able to catch up with my friend Katie F. from the Savannah, GA chapter and I got to meet some of her awesome Mamas as we walked to the start line coral staging area. This race seemed so huge, even compared to the size of the DONNA which I had run in February. A sea of runners as far as I could see and I started all the way back in corral K. Since I really had set no time limit on my race I wasn’t worried at all. Relaxed and comfortable was my mood for the rest of the morning.
As we got started on the course all I could see in front of me were the thousands of other runners pushing through the course. I had anticipated that the elevation would be really tough since the Allstate Atlanta 13.1 Marathon that I ran in October in Buckhead was 13 miles straight up, but this didn’t seem too bad to me. I ran the first three miles and my left shin splint began to bother me. It was something I developed in marathon training and attribute it to a lot of overuse due to increased miles. So I opted to stop and download an interval timer on my iPhone to use for the rest of the race. I loved it! I even stopped to take photos this time as we approached mile 5. The course was truly beautiful taking us through new and old Atlanta.
As I got some miles under my belt I began texting my Mom updates on where I was so she had an idea of how much longer it would be until I came through the finish line. Every few miles I would send an update and I would get a cheer back from her. It was awesome! In all of my half marathons to date, this was by far the most relaxed I had been and I was loving it. My blistery left foot on the other hand, not so much! I just kept pushing on. I was also so excited that there were so many hydration stations that I didn’t even have to wear my hydration belt which was one less thing to worry with since it can sometimes be so awkward. We reached the split off for the marathoners and for the half marathoners to begin to head back. I was amazed at how quick this race had flown by. Before I knew it I was at mile 10 and had a mere 3.1 miles to go. I texted Mom a few more times and asked which side of the finish line she would be on and by this time it had started to rain a bit and the temperatures had dropped significantly. I wasn’t going to let that stop me though, after all MOM WAS AT THE FINISH LINE!
As I approached the turn to the finish line chute I was thankful for my sunglasses which I quickly put on and tried to contain the tears that overcame me. I frantically began looking for her because I was so afraid I would miss her. As I crossed the finish line, she was on the left and crying. I walked over to hug her and thought it was so awesome that the finish line photographer was able to capture at least me walking towards her for a hug. CUE TEARS HERE!
It was an awesome feeling to have her there to cheer me on the entire race. As I said earlier, there is nothing that warms a runner’s heart more than to have your loved ones at the finish line to see you cross. It makes each mile of that race even more special.
My official finish time for the Georgia Half Marathon was 2:43:22 and I was so proud of finishing this race. It would round out my first 12 half marathons, just a little over a year after my first race in February 2013. The Dirty Dozen has taught me a lot about my running journey. Strength, Courage, Determination, Perseverance and Love for my sport. I run miles for many causes and I run all my miles for my little IRUN4 match Carly, but the Georgia Half Marathon I also ran for my running partner’s son Jacob who on Monday began another round of treatment for his NF2. Proudly I wore my Children’s Tumor Foundation NF Endurance Team shirt for this race in honor of Jacob and his amazing family!
This weekend I introduced my Mama to my new world of wonders and my favorite race distance, the half marathon. Though we were in a city that, at times, was not kind to us, we laughed we cried (she fell and got hurt ok but pushed through like a champ) and we made be best of the 36 hours of what I call ‘Race Weekend’. Some people think we just go and party, but really it’s like fun work that has an unimaginable payoff of accomplishment. Yes, I post about running, fitness and eating all the time, but that’s who I’ve become over the past 2 years and the amazing friendships and accomplishments are worth more than any shot of liquor or other ‘vice’ you can name. We run on #pride#courage and #heart and I am so glad I finally got to share that with my Mama this weekend!
The Georgia Half Marathon rounded out the last of my half marathons until the Fall, but I will be running many local races over the next few months to keep my legs in shape for next season. I have already planned to get some awesome races marked off my bucket list and I’m excited that on Monday I started an 8-week workout program to help me attain my goals of getting healthier and stronger this year. I am looking forward to another hometown race this weekend as I run the Springtime Tallahassee 10k in our beautiful city and hopefully we can outrun the rain and have a beautiful finish.
I want to give a special thank you to my Mama for taking this 36 hour trip with me and seeing what I do “for fun” on race weekends. It’s a lot of work but ends with so much pride! I love you! xo
So until next time, I wish you Happy Miles and Swift Feet! xo