Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 1,788: Atlanta Half Marathon

So today came and all I was really thinking about this race were the hills from last year that did me in.

At the time, I still had a nice race -- it was at the time my fastest half-marathon in Georgia and my third-fastest time overall.

But every race is different.

This year, mainly thanks to my slackness and needing to do long runs to make 30 miles for the week, I'd put in a bunch of long run time in -- a 14-mile run in August, a 12.5-mile run in October and an 8.5 mile run as recently as last week.

The race started out and I told myself to take it easy. I did this even as lots of people passed me left and right. I was just enjoying the run as it went from Turner Field to downtown past my office building to Atlantic Station.

In Midtown, I didn't push myself up the 14th Street hill like I did last year. It even seemed to me to be a much smaller hill than I thought it was last year.

Even through Piedmont Park, I just ran and enjoyed everything. I laughed when I saw some dude accelerating to the exit gate of the park -- I was thinking like, dude, you have no idea what you're in for.

And then came 10th Street. This is the start of the brutal inclines of the race. This hill pretty much goes up to Juniper, where the turn is. Then it's rolling hills all the way to Auburn Avenue.

Last year, this was where I started to fall off my pace.

On 10th Street, I let myself accelerate through the crowd -- it felt good, even though I knew more hills were in store.

I did the same for the entrance hills on Juniper through about 5th Street. I run so much of this course on other routes, it felt natural.

I made a slight mistake in thinking that on Courtland Street we'd have to go over the overpass near Georgia State but was relieved when I saw that Auburn Avenue came right before it.

This was around the 9 mile mark. Usually I'll eat a GU gel here -- it will last for about 4 miles. But I felt pretty good and decided not to take one. I also did not drink any water/sport drink for the entire race.

On Auburn Avenue, my pace was good and cautious. I ran down through the short tunnel on Boulevard thinking that the next hill -- Boulevard leading to Memorial -- was coming.

It turns out the hill continues on Moreland. No worries. I fell into pace behind a pretty quick girl as the course continued on Moreland to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Things continued to go great. I knew at this point, only two main hills remained -- the double stack on Mitchell Street before Capitol Avenue and the I-20 overpass on Hank Aaron Drive.

When I got to the overpass, I could see the 1:50 pacers ahead of me. Even running pretty fast it was hard to catch up.

But I passed them with maybe .2 of a mile left in the race. The finish was strong and I was pleased with my sub 1:50 time.

Later today when I looked at my Garmin Connect data from the races, I notice something significant. In 2010, I logged fast times through mile 7 out of Piedmont Park and then started to lose my pace.

This year, I ran at a steady pace (about 8:30/mile) through mile 7 and then ran 8-minute miles the rest of the way.

Saving your energy for the hills when you need it is definitely the way to go.

Time: 7:35 a.m.
Temp: 42 degrees
Gear: Tech T, long (Big Peach 5-miler), Tech-T short (Asics blue), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 27/A.

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