2010 ING Atlanta Half Marathon - a race report

As seems to have become a bit of a reoccurring pattern... I was talked into my 2nd half marathon by a person who didn't end up racing the race. hmmm... you know who you are... Mark!

Also a reoccurring pattern... I then proceed to talk Andrea into racing with me and we have a blast! So, no hard feelings Mark :-D

Allow me to take a moment to talk a bit about the race organization; aside from the slightly annoying fact that I had to drive *all the way* to downtown Atlanta to pick up my packet and the only way Andrea could pick it up for me is if I had a NOTARIZED form completed (seriously? notarized???), the race was impeccably run. My favorite part was the gear bag drop off at race start... I had a nice cozy jacket, recovery socks and recovery drink waiting for me at the finish... How cool is that?!? the course was challenging but, I didn't feel, ridiculously difficult. and the scenery (what I remember of it) quite nice (except for that last mile but that can't be helped... the screeching sound of the train moving out of the train yard was a nice way to drown out the screeching from my muscles, but we'll get to that).

So the race gets a big ol' thumbs up from me and I'm already planning to do it again next year!

I've been feeling pretty excited for this race since my 10k in February... and my training was going very well, until... you guessed it, a visit from the sick monster. It ran through the family like wildfire, Jason was out of school for the better part of a week... doctors agreed it was a virus and just had to run it's course. As soon as one of us would get better, the next person would get it. Just a lot of lung yuckiness, coughing, phlegming (yes, it's a word, I don't care what you say computer spell checker!), low grader fever, chills, etc. It took everything I had to stumble through the day, keep my boys clothed, fed, bathed, etc. I'd fall asleep, exhausted, after putting them to bed at 8 pm.

Suffice to say, no training was completed during this 10 day period... and the workouts that were completed in the weeks that followed, while getting progressively better were well off of the pre-sick monster numbers.

It must have been the spring weather that arrived (finally!) on the Friday before the race that finally put me back in the "I can't wait to do this race" frame of mind.

First of all Andrea gets all the props in the world for suggesting we get a hotel room for the night before the race. It seems frivolous because, well, come on, we live here, but it was sooooooo worth it!! If for no other reason than it was a great excuse for mom's night out.

Morning of the race, I try out some new pre-race foods (looking to get more electrolytes in my system - if you've read any of my other race reports, you'll know, I've got a cramping issue... yes, I'm now admitting it's an issue). Now this set of foods isn't completely new... tried this out before the last (and only) long run I was able to get in before the race (14 miles about 3 weeks before).

1 Zone Perfect Dark Chocolate Almond Bar
1 cup of Coffee
12 oz of First Endurance EFS (Grape baby it ROCKS!)
1 banana

This represents more calories than I usually eat before noon, let alone at 5 am, but it all seemed to settle in there nicely.

Andrea and I wandered down to the race start around 6:15... checked the gear bag... found our start corral and start corral porta potty (another plus for the race organizers!).

At this point we both ate a gel, moved to the start area... 7:00 am on the dot we were off...

about .25 miles into it I realize that I forgot to start my "workout" which was a plan I put on my Garmin with pacing parameters... it would beep if we went too fast or too slow... I never queued it up on the watch so we were just running. There wasn't anything I could do about it, so we just went with it... and things felt great!

We cruised through the miles... each of us keeping the other from going too fast... we kept it around a 7:20 pace.

While it didn't catch up to me until later, I know where I screwed up... at mile 8... the plan was to take our gels at mile 8... but my stomach was feeling queasy and I thought maybe I had had too many calories in the morning, too much sugar, and another gel would be a bad idea. And, in that thought, I was probably right... more SUGAR I didn't need... SALT/electrolytes I DID need.

mile 9 went by... everything running wise felt great, legs felt fresh, mentally I felt good... I mean really good... I was the annoyingly chipper chick who keeps thanking the volunteers and the folks cheering on the side of the street. "thanks for coming out" I'd chirp... I'm annoyed with myself thinking about it...

my stomach not so good still, so no gel at mile 10 either... get to mile 11 and I'm thinking there is no point in taking it now... it wont kick in till your finished... and yeah, I'm still smiling at this point... feeling good

and then...

mile 11.12 (I know this because the pace on my lovely garmin chart SHOOTS UP at this distance... shoots up as in my pace SLOWS WAY DOWN... as in I STOPPED.

yep, I stopped. Pulled myself off to the side of the road, pulled the gel out of my pocket and sucked it down... because my legs, just like that, felt like lead... started running again...

mile 11.74 - pull off to the side of the course to pull out an endurolyte... open capsule and pour insides directly onto tongue. Why? because, wait for it... oh yes, the cramping started.

YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!?!?! Another freakin' race and another freakin' cramp!

another stop to get some water and then later attempt to stretch out the ever increasing cramps in both calves...

Somehow I made it to the finish line and then only thing that kept me running was knowing that it was just as far if I walked and if I walked the pain would just last longer and get worse.

So my last two miles were a pace of 8:17 and 8:14, a far cry from the 7:30 avg from earlier in the day but good enough to get me to the finish in a time of 1:41:16.

a PR (by 3.5 min)... a time to be happy with for sure!

And I'm happy... but FRUSTRATED!! My biggest concern is this cramping issue, something I MUST figure out before my longer triathlons this summer. Already talked some stuff over with Laura (my coach) and I'm looking into products to test on my long ride and runs coming up...

my current plan to fix the cramp issue:
- start weighing myself before and directly after workouts to determine sweat rate.
- replace gels with First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot. I've been really happy with the new formula for EFS Sports Drink and I've always loved First Endurance Ultragen as my recovery drink (if you haven't, try cappuccino, if you like coffee, you will not be sorry). My hope is that the Liquid Shot will sit better in my stomach than gels do and it will help me get more electrolytes into my system so that I can keep those levels steady instead of trying to catch back up later, when frankly it's too late...

fingers crossed!

so hopefully I've gained some usable knowledge from this race to be used in future endeavors.

In the meantime...

OMG, I ran 13.1 miles in 1:41:16!!! (Jill in 2009 did NOT think that would ever be possible)

I have to say a huge thanks to Alex for taking over all parent duties from saturday night to sunday afternoon... AFTER he'd spent two days on his feet at the race expo in the all3sports/CEP/Newton booth. You rock sweetie!

Of course thanks to my coach Laura, primarily for giving me some run workouts that kicked my butt and totally prepared me for this course.

And I can't forget my sweet Newtons! One more race, one more PR (for the score card my Newtons are now 4 for 4 when it comes to running races and PRs!)

Last but certainly not least... thanks to Andrea, for agreeing to run the race with me, for her awesome attitude and for being a kick butt racing partner! (and training partner now!!) and CONGRATULATIONS to her she finished 11th in our AG with a incredible time of 1:38!! Thanks for running with me! So glad you were able to kick butt on behalf of both of us! ha ha

The numbers for the day:
time: 1:41:16; 20th in AG out of 1074
Avg HR: 166 (mid Z3 for me)
Avg Pace: 7:43

Pacing: - for anyone racing this course next year, I marked the only miles where ascent was much higher than descent. All other miles are rolling hills).
mile 1: 7:17
2. 7:17
3. 7:21
4. 7:43 (elevation gain 50ft, descent 30ft)
5. 7:20
6: 7:29
7: 7:32
8: 7:33
9: 7:20
10: 7:47 (ascent: 95 ft, descent 35 ft)
11.7:5o (ascent: 111 ft, descent 86 ft)
12. 8:17
13. 8:14
last .1: 8:06


  1. Woot! My goodness girl, let's just think of life without that cramp! 7:25 pace is going to put you near the 1:37 range. And it's so totally possible. Your doing the right things, asking the right questions. That's why we race in the early season, to figure this stuff out so it either doesn't happen in the big races, or so we have an idea of how to solve things if it does. You'll get there, fo-sho!!

  2. Awesome race! Being sick and cramping up, but still nailing a PR. Congrats!

  3. Congrats on an awesome race! Smoking fast! Esp. as a sicko/cramper. :)


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