Monday, March 21, 2016

Publix Atlanta Half Marathon 2016 Recap

So, I snuck another race in on you this year!

And if you are wondering why you didn't hear anything about it, it is because I just decided to run this race about a week or so ago. This past Sunday was the Atlanta Publix Half Marathon. The race that I ran last March that I had trained for with the Running Nerds, that took place right when I got back from Nigeria, that rained the whole time, and that I sobbed at the finish when I broke 2:00 hours for the first time!

I was not planning to run that race this year, as I only had committed to the Miami and New Orleans races, then was focusing the rest of the spring on the Chattanooga Half Ironman. My original plan for this weekend was to run 9 or 10 miles on Sunday, and then next weekend was going to try and run 13. Then, I saw a post on Facebook from a friend who was giving away his bib for the Publix Half Marathon, and I said I would take it. I figured, why not run a supported 13 miles rather than a solo 9 miles?

So without much ado, I was running the Publix Half Marathon this weekend. Although, it was not a "race" in my mind whatsoever and here are just a few key indicators for you to let you know where my mind really was at:

- On Wednesday of last week, while running with my friend in Wilmington, North Carolina, he said to me, "So what races do you have next?" and I said, "Nothing until the Ironman!" and then a few moments later said, "Oh crap - wait - I am running a half marathon this weekend."

- When I went to the expo, I took ZERO PHOTOS. You guys know I live for race expos and love those things. I never leave without at least 50 pictures on my camera, but I took none. Well, actually one, which was this photo I posted the other day. Which I took because as I was about to leave I thought, "You didn't take any pictures!"

- I did not do any "night before the race" rituals. Not that I have a ton. But I usually have a beer. And I usually at least make sure I have everything planned and put out before a race. My outfit, my nutrition, my music (if I am running with it), etc. But this night I did nothing - I just went to bed and set an alarm.

- I did not have any pre-race jitters.

- I didn't sign up for runner tracking or even have the thought cross my mind.

- I didn't do any pre-race rituals of getting hyped, having a solo dance party, or anything like that. It was cold, so I huddled in Starbucks until I saw the corrals moving forward and then I just hopped into one of them.

- I didn't stick around after to celebrate and I didn't have a post race beer. THIS IS MY FIRST TIME EVER not having a beer the night after running a race.

So what did I do? Well, I went to the race expo at about 5:30 p.m. the evening before the race, and went in and out pretty quickly grabbing the bib and some free samples, before jumping back in my car. I was still in spandex and sweaty clothes having just immediately finished my 40 mile bike, so I wasn't sticking around to run into anyone. Plus, there was a young girls cheerleading competition going on in the same convention hall where the race expo was and 10 year old girls with fake eyelashes and makeup and hair spray freak me out.

I ate some pasta with Brick for dinner that night and hung out at home, heading to bed pretty early - both for the race and because I was tired in general.

In the morning I head down to the Centennial Olympic Park area but then hung out in my car until about 30 minutes before the race. After having some spring/summer like weather in Atlanta for the past couple of weeks, winter came back on Sunday morning and it was about 40-45 degrees out. I huddled in my car for as long as possible before walking to the start of the race.  I didn't try and meet up with any friends and didn't really take many prerace pictures either. I stopped by the Running Nerds tent to say hi to a few people, then went to the start, where I stood in a Starbucks for another 10 minutes and only jumped out into the cold when I saw the corrals moving forward.

The first few miles of the race, I had no idea where we were. I kept trying to visualize in Atlanta where I was but was really struggling. When I ran this race last year, I was still fairly new to Atlanta and I figured that a year later, I would absolutely know my way around the city streets and neighborhoods much better than I had the year before.

This was also the first time in my life that I ran a half marathon race a second time. I kept trying to picture myself running these streets the year before but think I blacked out the first half of the race last year because I have no recollection of it as I was trying to rack my brain.

I felt like crap from the very beginning. I felt tight and I felt sore. My legs felt TIRED.

At around mile 3 I saw my friends Diana and Melana who are also triathletes (you remember them...). She is my hero and jumped out onto the course and started running with me a little. I told her I felt awful and that I had biked yesterday. She told me I was doing great and distracted me for a bit before she dropped back to return to cheering.

I told myself to get through each 5K at a time and willed myself to 6 miles. I knew my pace was slower than what I was used to running lately but I still felt strained and reminded myself that I was not racing and to back off whenever I felt like I was going hard. I told myself, "Run this race as slow as possible." Which - was not hard to follow through on because even just moving was hard at this point!

At some point in the run things started to get familiar and I realized the route and where I was at around mile 5. This course is a hilly course that I seriously somehow blacked out last year and as I hit hill after hill on the course I just kept thinking to myself, "How the hell did I run this so fast last year?!" I kept trying to put myself in the shoes (mentally) that I was in last year and I just couldn't get there. The hills were a challenge and I wanted to quit almost the whole race. I had to go to the bathroom from like mile 5 on and I kept telling myself, "Next mile you can go to the bathroom." but never did during the race.

One of the things I was joking about before the race started was that I might just drop out after I get to 9 or 10 miles since that is really all I needed out of this race. I never totally thought I would actually do that, because it is just not me - but I did think I might ease back a bit after mile 9. I knew that I would have friends cheering at that point so I had told myself I would stop with them for a bit and then finish up.

I saw Shereese around Mile 4. I saw India at about mile 8 and nearly caused a crash on the course. I knew she didn't see me and I tried to get her attention and reach out to her and somehow stumbled and fell forward onto a runner nearly tripping both of us. I had originally told myself that seeing India would be a reward and I was too shaken up to stop running so I just kept going and actually with a bit of adrenaline after the commotion I caused.

It kept me going for the next mile or so until I knew the next point I would see my friends and I ran over to give Ayanna and Jemima a hug. This was at about mile 9.5 and Ayanna told me finish it up and I just remember telling her "I don't wanna!" and them pushing me on.

Every single mile I had to talk myself through.

To just get from 7 to 8. From 8 to 9. From 9 to 10.

I told myself after I got to 10 that I could walk for a little if I wanted since I finished my mileage and I gladly allowed myself that luxury. I actually had been yo-yo-ing another runner that I knew in Atlanta, although we never actually spoke in the race, and he was walk running from the very beginning. I told myself if he could do it, I could do it too and then walked portions of miles 10-12. I never did go to the bathroom though and that was a struggle throughout the whole race of fighting those urges.

We ran through Georgia Tech and through a number of more hills. I did remember from last year that there were hills up until the last mile because I distinctly remembered fighting uphill that last mile in so much pain and in the rain so I knew to prepare myself for that. I also love the last mile of a race and never ever will walk the last mile so at about 11.75 I started running again and knew I wouldn't stop until 13.1.

I crossed the finish line SOOOO happy to be done that I started crying and getting choked up. I had no reason to be choked up besides that I was so happy to be done and frankly so proud of myself for pushing through this race. It was an extremely tough race mentally and physically.

My whole body was tired from the training the day before. I think mentally, I was out of the game a little because I knew it wasn't a race and I knew I didn't need all the miles. I wanted to quit and I wanted to give up and I just did not want to being that race from the first few miles in. My whole body didn't want to be a part of that race. But I finished and I did it by pushing myself through mentally. I just fought and fought hard to get through it.

When I crossed and started crying I immediately pulled back the tears when I saw and heard my friends yelling for me. Just like last year, I saw some of the Movers and Pacers waiting and cheering - some of the most supportive people that I know!

I said hi to them, walked through, got my food and water and chocolate milk and little paper shirt thing that is supposed to somehow keep me warm, and then went back to my friends. We took some pictures and then I felt exhausted and needed to go home.

I was cold and tired and mentally exhausted from that race with nothing to even celebrate. My time was by no means good for me. I didn't enjoy the race. I didn't feel happy with how I did. I just wanted to get out of there. It sucks to feel so physically drained and have nothing to celebrate. For the first time, my celebratory social media post I did not post a picture of myself. Just the medal.

Originally, I wasn't even going to hang it on my medal board but I decided I liked it and I decided that I earned it, so it deserved to be up there. This was a really hard fought race for me.

Tomorrow I will post more about my feelings the days after this race. It's been a little bit of a mental struggle. I pushed myself hard this weekend with training, and I am proud of that. But somehow still feel down. Hoping to give myself a pep talk and shake those feelings away!

1 comment:

  1. for the record, you are DEFINITELY a "runner" when you are just casually running half marathons without any specific training, fanfare, or preparation! (you are also probably a "crazy"! ;) )