Sunday, August 23, 2015

Day 3,157: Hotlanta Half Marathon, a.k.a. "The Rainfest"

I'm thinking of taking this in to get sharpened and giving it a future life as a pizza cutter.
I'm no enemy of the rain. In fact, some of my best running moments happened in the Pacific Northwest where I loved to train in the rain to give me that extra edge come rainy race day.

It's just ... wow, really?

Today marked my 25th half marathon, the Hotlanta Half Marathon that started (dry) and finished (very wet) downtown. Overall, it was a pretty wonderful race, with sights that I remember including Turner Field, the Eastside Beltline Trail, Piedmont Park, Georgia Tech and Centennial Olympic Park.

It happened to be the rainiest race that I've run in Georgia, putting the December 2013 Inman Frosty 5K to shame. Despite this, I ran my third fastest time (1:47:46) of 25 half marathons that I've done and this is the second fastest half that I've done in Georgia. It sadly was 1 minute, 16 seconds off of the 17-year-old PR I'd hoped to break today.

Coming into this race I didn't know what to expect. My speed has been the best it's been all my life, with a recent PR in the Vinings Downhill 5K and only a few seconds off my best time in this year's Peachtree Road Race.

But I knew that running all those races would take a toll on my half marathon training schedule -- I'd be too sore to do long runs after a quad-busting 5K race.

I decided that I would look at this race as a 13.1-mile tempo run, with the goal of keeping my pace at 8:04/minute mile as long as possible.

When the race started, I saw the 1:45 pace group up ahead and thought that I would try to keep it in sights, no more than 10 seconds slower than it. But the first mile went up the long hill that runs alongside Centennial Olympic Park and soon that pace flag was no longer in sight.

I also thought to myself to pay particular attention to the first six miles that included plenty of rolling hills up to the start of the Eastside Beltline Trail. Here, I knew that the trail's 1.9 miles of downhill could give me a breather if I needed it. But it turned out the Beltline was the start of the rain for my race.

I plugged along the Beltline and then up 10th Street for Mile 9. Mile 10 involved running inside Piedmont Park, along the very stretch of pavement that I use for my interval training and while it gave me a nice psychological boost, I logged one of my slowest miles (8:26) of the race in this pretty flat surface.

I thought the next mile would give me the most trouble because of the 12th Street hill but after seeing so many hills it really wasn't much worse than any other hill we encountered on the course.

By this time the rain was in full effect and there was no attempt on my part to keep from getting wet. When I rounded the corner onto 5th Street toward Georgia Tech I thought to myself "This could be a $600 race," since my cell phone was in a fanny pack pocket and not protected from the rain because it hadn't even occurred to me it would rain. (In last December's Honolulu Marathon I at least put my phone in a Ziploc bag before running).

In Georgia Tech, the water was deep enough that if you made the mistake I did you would get right in it and it would slow you down. A younger runner near me at this point said she worried about what was in the brown streaks that flowed with the water all over the road. At one point near the finish it did smell pretty awful.

When I came out onto North Avenue near Bobby Dodd Stadium, I thought we would go straight toward the park but no, we had to turn up it as in the end of the Publix Georgia Half Marathon course and I didn't feel too happy about this. Then we turned left at the top of the hill and before passing the Georgia Aquarium there was another pretty big hill to conquer.

I'd been wearing my cep compression sleeves over my calves and they felt pretty good and my calves did not cramp (I felt a tinge on the very last turn to the finish as I started to kick) during the race. Completely soaked, I gave myself a good kick down to the finish and happily gathered my pizza cutting instrument, er medal.

I was happy to see they had water coolers with nuun flavors of all kinds after the race. I must have gone back four times for the lemon-lime that I've become accustomed to drinking after my daily workouts.

Hydration/fueling: The rain created a different hydration sequence for me. I kept putting off drinking water but eventually did near Mile 6. At Mile 7 I ate one of those frozen energy popsicles and it really was pretty nice so I ended up not using either of the 2 GU gels that I brought in the race. I drank water again at Mile 10 and 11 to fill out the race.

Shoes: I decided to not wear my Saucony Type A6s for this race because of the pounding and had put on my Skechers Go Run 3s. But those shoes were chafing a spot where I developed a blister while walking the littlest one in a stroller the other day so at the last moment I put on my Saucony Iso Zealots. They are my main go-to trainer and are heavier than my other shoes but they were perfect for this kind of weather.

Time: 7 a.m.
Temp: 72 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Asics blue), shorts, cep compression sleeves, Saucony Iso Zealot.


Frank McDonald said...

Congratulations on posting a great time! Are you running the Big Peach Sizzler 10K on Labor Day?

kurokitty said...

Ya, I'm looking forward to it!