This weekend I landed on Jupiter!
No, I’m not some crazy space cadet. Well … I might be just slightly crazy but, Jupiter refers to the 4th level of the Half Fanatics, called moon levels.
Jupiter can be reached by completing one of the following:
- 4 Halfs in 23 Days
- 19-25 Halfs in 365 Days
- 2 Halfs in 2 Days
- 9 Halfs in 9 Different States, Countries or Provinces in 51 Days
Clearly, the easiest (logistically) and most cost effective option in my opinion is 2 in 2 days. So that’s what I did!
The first Half Marathon of the weekend was Centerpoint Half in Prattville, AL. This was a local race for me so I didn’t have to worry about the added expenses of travelling. The event is organized by a local church, but the YMCA provided the venue for the packet pick-up/registration and the start/finish of the event on race morning. The packet pick-up was very orderly, as was the parking on race morning thanks to the race volunteers.
Everything was still dark and quiet when I left my house at 6am, but by 7am at the race start the sky was clear and beautiful. It was a perfect morning for a run!
I’ve run this race before, but this year the course was different. In previous years the course was a dreaded double loop, I much preferred the single loop even if it did have FIFTY (or so I was told)turns!
I intentionally ran this race conservatively, knowing that the bigger picture was that I still had another race to run the next day. I settled into about an 8:30 pace and stayed there. It was tempting to run faster to stay with my friends so that I’d have someone to talk to during the race, but I fought the urge knowing that I’d be thankful the next day.
For the first time in a long time I found myself really wishing I had brought my iPod along. The local crowd support was nice, and I loved the fun themed water stations as well as the enthusiastic volunteers, but unfortunately I found myself surrounded by the most annoying runners ever, you know the ones … the clomper, the spitter, the heavy breather. They were all there! I even visited one of the porto-potties along the course just to reposition myself in the pack.
But soon enough, I found myself zoning out and then BAM! I was crossing the finish line!
After the race I had the pleasure of meeting Jess from Run With Jess.
Turns out she came from Peoria, IL to do a double at the exact same races I was doing!
We chatted for a few minutes, and then I hung around only long enough to have a few bites of food and a contraband “recovery” beverage before it was time to hit the road to head to Atlanta.
Recovery mode in full effect!
Unfortunately after a little too much “recovery” and an early morning I felt
kinda exactly like this …
Clearly, I have no shame.
Note to self: never pass up your last opportunity to pee before hitting Atlanta traffic. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are about to rupture your bladder and seeing this …
Just ask my husband. I went in to total bitch mode for a little while, but eventually we did make it through the traffic and onto the Expo for the Publix Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon. I finally perked up and even managed to salvage my marriage. Whew!
The Expo was held at the Georgia World Congress Center near Centennial Olympic Park, and included tons and tons of vendors. Packet pick-up went smoothly enough and I picked up tons of free loot including full size jars of Biscoff Spread (the devil!) and cutting boards from Publix as well as mini Larabars and a shaker bottle. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find the 2 specific things I happened to be looking for, Yurbuds and Swiftwick socks. Swiftwick was present, but they were completely sold out of size medium low rise socks. Stank.
After a quick loop around the expo, the fam and I headed to dinner at Fire of Brazil, a Brazilian Churrascaria. It was just “meh” for me. Certainly no Fogo de Chao. This probably doesn’t mean much to you, it’s cool. Just something to keep in mind if you find yourself in Atlanta with a hankering for authentic Brazilian steakhouse fare. But hey, it was within walking distance of our hotel and because it was just “meh” I didn’t over-eat or over-drink on pre-race night. Win.
I actually came back to the room, set out my race outfit and headed to bed at a reasonable time.
The pre-race part of the morning went very smoothly. I walked the 2 blocks from my hotel to the starting line without managing to get lost, all by myself like a big girl. I was able to make it through the porto-potty line in record time. And I made it to the starting corrals with ample time to spare, but not so early that I got bored.
I decided to forgo my Corral A starting position, (still not sure how that happened) and found myself a happy place in corral D instead. Before long it was “go time”! Turns out its still really freakin’ dark at 7am in the Eastern Time Zone.
Sixteen thousand (or so) of us started off down the pre-dawn Atlanta streets together. The first 2.5 miles were a steady decline that felt like “wheeeeeeeee” miles. The thought never even occurred to me that I had just run a half marathon the day before. My legs felt fresh and ready to go, and I found myself running the first few miles like this … 7:58, 7:37, 7:40.
At mile 4, a sudden and intense pain shot through the heel of my left foot, into my achilles, up my calf and into my hamstring. And it stopped me dead in my tracks. After stretching and a few walking steps, I figured out that as long as I didn’t point my toes and only beared my weight on my right leg it was manageable. Thankfully, the pain eased from the the intense stabbing to a less-intense but ever present "not cool-ness".
From mile 4 to 8, I remember nothing. I was completely in a pain cave. All my mental energy was going towards concentrating on my achilles and any sign that I needed to stop immediately and DNF the race. Thankfully, that sign didn’t come, although it was close.
At mile 8 I finally felt confident that I would be able to finish the race and relaxed enough to be able to enjoy the rest of the run and my surroundings.
One thing that I really appreciated about this race was the spectacular organization from beginning to end. At each hydration station they had red cups for Powerade and white cups with water. Powerade was always in the front and water always in the back. As someone who hates to get sticky Powerade hands, I found that really appealing.
Another thing that I really liked was the way the corrals were handled at the beginning of the race. Unlike Rock n’ Roll events, instead of fences and 3 minute breaks between starting times they had plastic dividers that they dropped once everyone was in the correct corrals. They also had volunteers at the gate of the corrals checking the bibs of everyone who entered to ensure that slower runners weren’t starting farther up than they should.
I’m told by the elevation chart (and everyone that has run Atlanta) that this race is very very hilly. Either I was completely in my mental pain cave and didn’t notice the hills, or I eat hills for breakfast …because I honestly didn’t think much of them. While there were certainly inclines and declines there was NOTHING like Jefferson Street or Perry Street in downtown Montgomery that I’m used to running every weekend. Maybe my weekly “hill training” paid off.
At mile 12 my adrenaline completely kicked in, and I no longer felt anything but awesome-ness once again. It felt great to be able to finish out this race strong!
I finished the Georgia Half Marathon in 1:45:00.
After I collected my finisher’s medal and located my family, I high-tailed it back to the hotel room to ice my leg. I didn’t even bother to search out free beer after the race. *Gasp* I know! Good thing too, because I later found out that Georgia has a stupid law that alcohol can’t be sold (or given away apparently) on Sunday until 12:30pm. I’m gonna need them to have that changed before next year!
After icing my leg, a hot bath, fresh clothes and 12:30 … I felt like myself again.
Flip Burger! Awwww yay-ah!
After all, I did run a marathon this weekend. Sorta.