Observation 2: Every time I run a race, it's COLD! And windy! I didn't take the earmuffs and mittens this time, but I could have used the mittens! I was thankful for every layer I had.
Observation 3: Atlanta is hilly. No, I really do mean HILLY! There are hardly any flat spots. It's just up and down and up and down for 26.2 miles. And Druid Hills (miles 17-20) is named Druid HILLS for a reason. It's just one killer hill after another. Oh, and the course elevation map, which I had obsessed over to the point of memorization, was not helpful. I can't tell you how many times I was expecting a downhill and got a uphill, or sometimes the other way around, or thought a hill would be bad and it wasn't, or got a bad hill when I wasn't expecting it.
Observation 4: Downhill is not easier after your knees have taken a pounding for 15+ miles. One knee started hurting to the extent that I was dreading the downs and looking forward to the ups. I was doing all sorts of crazy gaits trying to find something that didn't hurt as bad. At which point, I called Ed and asked him to pray for my knee. And very soon thereafter, my knee hurt less and less, and I enjoyed my downhills for the last 7 miles or so. :)
Observation 5: Caffeinated energy gels rock! Oh my gosh! Nuff said.
Observation 6: Through my training, I've realized how many things you have to do to have a good long run - you have to have the right clothes, socks, and shoes on, protect the problem spots on your feet from blisters, make sure your laces are not too tight or too loose, body glide (lube) any potential chafing spots, adequately carb load in the days before but don't gain too much weight, get in a few quick carbs, lytes, and water before the race, but not so much that you have to use the portapotties early in the race before the halfmarathoners split off, drink the right amount of gatorade/water on the course, and eat enough gels during it. That, and don't pound the heck out of your knees on the downhills in the first half. ;)
Anyway, it was good! The course takes you through many of Atlanta's signature spots - MLK's house, Piedmont Park, a lot of the Atlanta neighborhoods - Inman Park, Candler Park, Poncey Highlands, Decatur, Little Five Points, Virginia Highlands, and through 4 college campuses - Georgia State, Agnes Scott, Emory, and Georgia Tech. They all come out to cheer - in fact, there are cheering spectators along most of the course - and the neighborrhoods get together and have a band, dress up in costumes, make fun signs - all very encouraging. Most awesome for me was running by Decatur United Methodist Church, who had a worship band out on the sidewalk, playing contemporary worship music. As I was running by, they were playing Blessed Be the Name of the Lord - a song I have always loved, but became my theme song for the race. I sang it (in my head) for most of the rest of the race! Especially when I started hurting!
I really liked some of the cute t-shirts - "I know I run like a girl - try to keep up", "It seemed like a good idea 3 months ago", "Toe nails are for sissies"- especially funny to me because I've lost both big toe nails during training. ;)
Anyway, I finally hit a wall at 25 miles, and that last mile HURT!! Back to pictures now - hurting...Oh, there's Ed! That must mean the finish line is really close!! Yay, so good to see Ed!!!The finish line is about 100 yds after the final turn, and has a merciful slight downhill leading to it. Ed says that when I saw the finish line, I gave a yelp and started sprinting. :) The horse smells the barn! Mmmmm!
I was so ecstatic I didn't even hear them announce my name when I crossed the finish line!Very happy, with my blanket and finisher's medal! And looking forward to the warm dry clothes in the bag Ed has been toting around all morning. Yay!!!!!!!!!