CHAMBLEE, Ga. -- Memo to self: Even if freezing, try to warm-up a little before doing a race. Even if you don't usually do so.
We lined up in the darkness in 35-39 degree weather at the start of The Weather Channel Atlanta Half-Marathon on Thanksgiving Day. I felt good, had actually done the mileage before the race for once, and didn't think there would be any problems.
The course follows the second half of the Olympic marathon course from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
The start reminded me of something from a zombie movie -- thousands of people running in one direction along a four-lane road.
Within the first mile, the muscle above my left shin totally locked up, making it like I was running on a flat tire. My leg wouldn't allow me to accelerate and it was like that through the first six miles.
I thought about triage -- about DNF'ing the race and going home on MARTA at the N8 Lenox station. But for some reason I decided that the race was not done for me -- I would enjoy myself no matter what and finish however I could.
I dreaded the hilly second half of the race, but oddly enough the hills became my friend. The middle part of the course is the same as the July 4 Peachtree 10K and so the first large hill is "Heartbreak Hill," one that I usually dread in the 10K.
But I started running again. My shin muscle relaxed and I went up it with no problem. Same went with the next dreaded hill, a long nearly one mile incline up to 14th Street.
Then I tackled the next big hill, which stretches from 10th Street to the FOX Theatre near North Avenue. No problem.
And the next hill, from West Peachtree to Ellis Street all along Peachtree Road. These last two big hills were part of the 2007 ING Georgia Half-Marathon course and so I knew what to expect.
On the very last hill, a double set going up next to the state Capitol on Mitchell Street, I was finally able to accelerate and I hit the last mile through the Olympic gate to Turner Field pretty hard -- almost too hard, as I bruised my right foot sprinting to the line.
I had a lot of fun, guaranteed a negative split for the race (lol) but because I hadn't exerted myself too much in the first half, I had plenty of energy and was relatively fresh for the second half. I could tell as many spent runners were trying to tackle the hills with nothing in the tank.
Because I was able to finish strong in the second half, I think I can say the shin muscle thing was from not properly warming up instead of improper training for the race -- although I didn't really decide to run in the half-marathon until three weeks ago. lol
Not my best finish, but definitely one that I enjoyed, considering I didn't know how bad the injury was going to be. I've never not finished a race so I'm glad I didn't have a first there.
Time: 7:08 a.m.
Temp: 35-39 degree start, climbed to 50 degrees at finish
Gear: windbreaker, CFLST (William's Run), SST (El Paso), shorts, AP/D1.