I am SO signing up to run the ING half again next year. The course was beautiful and the crowds were awesome. I expect that the start and water difficulties will be ironed out before the next one - maybe they can consult the track club for some advice.
Here are my stats:
Official time: 2:00:18
Chip time: 1:54:06
The PR time was due to our friend, Joe, who ran with me and kept the pace. He kicks ass.
Here are my friends and their times - all halves, except SuperNat:
Chris: 2:15:37 (first race EVER)
Susan: 2:28:52 (my boss)
Virginia: 2:03:46 (first half - my training partner)
Jennifer: 2:13:12 (first half)
Nat: 3:44:15 (heatstroke and a BQ)
Here is my report:
My alarm was set for 4:00am, I thought. Apparently, it was not because I woke up at 4:14 with no alarm and my watch reading the wrong time. I'd cooked my oatmeal and set out my gear the night before and Doug made the coffee while I was in the shower, so I wasn't too far behind. Joe overslept too, so he was a little late picking me up and we were late picking up my friend Jennifer. We flew down the highway, so we got on MARTA at the Medical Center Station where it would be less crowded. MARTA was a breeze, we got to Underground at 6/6:15. We applied the vasaline, changed shoes and put on my knee-braces and checked our bags. Awesome job on the bag-check, UPS.
We finally found the huge wall of porto-potties and blanched at the lines. No matter, we waited and headed for the start. There were no signs, we just followed the masses. Because of the huge crowd, we knew not to try to go in at the back. Instead we walked outside the barricades until the 5:00 marathon pace group. At that point, we started to worry that we wouldn't get into the road. We went just behind the 4:30 pace group sign, and jumped (with help from those around us) the barricades. We helped several others do the same thing. I never heard a gun or a starting whistle. The crowd just started moving and we went with. We accidentally started Garmin at the finish line mats instead of the start, but quickly switched off - hence the 20-odd second discrepancy in the times. While waiting to start, I asked Joe his pace - "I don't know, what are we doing?" So, we ran together, even though Joe is MUCH faster and a better runner.
Jennifer had her own pace and so we parted at the start. The first 2-3 miles were bobbing and weaving as dawn broke over the city. The expo article about the views in those mile was not kidding. It was gorgeous. My knees felt OK but my toes got sore from sliding to the front of my shoes when tiptoeing between the other runners. We went through Inman Park and Little Five Points at or below my goal pace (9:09). I watched for running skirts (yes, I have skirt envy)pointed them out to Joe - he's not in the market for a skirt, but maybe for a skirt-wearing runner. We went through Little Five Points, which I haven't seen since Doug and I took my sister to see Dogstar 15 years ago. Then, we went down the Freedom Parkway - I remembered to eat my Sportsbeans during this stretch and on the way back we saw Jennifer and waved. She looked happy and chipper andwas running fast. Others have complained about this section, but it was still shady when we were there and was pretty pleasant. Then we ran up through Virginia-Highlands and I started to get a little tired. I was waiting for the post-beans euphoria. Some guy was handing out bottles of cool water from a grey trashcan and we got one. Thank you guy - we shared that water for the next two miles. It hit the spot. We went around through Piedmont park and I started to fade a bit. I was still with Joe, though, and we were doing about 8:20s at this point.
Then, the hills. On the back of the map that they gave us at the expo, it showed 3 big inclines. I kept thinking that we had finished the last hill, but no - there were more. I think that map was lying. Joe stared leaving me at this point. I caught back up and gave him a punch after the last out-n-back into the cheering zone. Then, going back up the hill to Peachtree, I stared to flag. My gut grumbled ominously. I looked in vain for a potty. No dice. This is a bad situation for a girl with pelvic floor issues. I stuck my earbuds in (had been only wearing one and switching ears so I could talk to Joe) and soldiered on. I kept Joe in sight and told myself to keep moving. Several times, I wanted to walk. The devil on my left shoulder kept saying "you can walk just a few steps, it will be no problem to catch back up," while the angel on the right said "no, sister, you better catch back up NOW." At the mile 1 sign, which apparently means one mile to go, Joe said "we're at 1:53" - I was a little loopy by this point and running with my eyes closed. I thought he meant that it was 1:53, which meant no way for the two hour goal. No matter, we pressed on. Those last two miles were in the 9:15 range and were not at all fun. The crowd started counting down as we approached the mats - I made the first mat before 2 hours, but that was the start mat. Oops - so I finished at 2:00:15. We got bananas and water and made the requisite pitstop - sorry to the guy who walked into my portopotty because I forgot to lock it. I felt like ass - not at all like Superwoman. After some curbside relaxing and ice shrink-wrapped to my IT band knee, I felt better. We limped to the UPS trucks to find Jennifer. There she was, at the appointed location - chipper and bouncing with glee. She finished in great time and at the same time as the marathon finisher.
It was a great race. I still have some muscle soreness today, but the knees are fine. I'm definitely there next year with more hydration and hill work under my belt. Thanks Joe, for keeping the pace. 65 Roses.