As you may remember, I had been sick with a cold and hadn't run since Monday. Not only had I not run, I had barely walked... and I certainly hadn't slept. I was feeling so badly and I was an absolute nervous wreck about finishing this race. It wasn't an option for me not to try to do it, though. My BFF had not only paid my race fee, she also paid an additional amount of money for us to ride the Turkey Shuttle from our local running store. And it was really the only attempt I would have for Half Fanatic. I had already determined in the last few weeks that I simply could not do this many halfs again so close to each other.
I didn't sleep very well Wednesday night which isn't all that unusual for the night before a race. My alarm was set for 5, and when I woke at 4, I decided it wasn't worth it to try to go back to sleep. Around 4:45 I got up to check the weather and saw that it was in the low 50s as expected, but 100% humidity. Such bizarre weather for late November. I got dressed and waited for my BFF to pick me up. It's so weird because I usually pick HER up since she lives near the interstate, but my house is on the way to the running store.
We got to the store at 5:40 and there was nobody there except the bus and its driver. And did I mention it was drizzling?? I had checked the weather and there was no mention of rain, nor was there anything on the radar!! UGH!! Anyway, soon the store guy had arrived and other runners started arriving, too. We were instructed to be there at 5:45 for a 6:00 departure, and we left right at 6. The traffic was heavier than I expected for Thanksgiving morning, and it was an absolute standstill when we got near Turner Field (where the Atlanta Braves play, and the start/finish line). Our clever bus driver went down past the stadium and came back, dropping us off right across from the start!! Well worth the price of the shuttle... plus we got a cute short sleeve tech tee!!
We hit the porta potties, stretched, porta potties again, and then the corrals. Soon it was time to start! I can't believe how fast it went! It was foggy so the pictures weren't all that good, but that was OK. I was so nervous, I couldn't even stand it. I guess it's a good thing time went by so quickly. It didn't give me a chance to worry.
Shortly after crossing the start line, I knew this was going to be an interesting experience for me. My congestion was only in my head/nose, but my heart rate was zooming up VERY quickly. Not sure if it was related to my cold, or to being in bed for most of the week, or what... but it was uncomfortable. My BFF tried a couple of times to come back to run with me, but we had already discussed that she needs to feel free to run ahead of me at any time. And towards the end of the 2nd mile, I knew that physically I needed to slow WAY down if I had any chance of making it to the finish line. I lost sight of her shortly after that! We had decided upon a meeting place at the end of the race, and I mentally wished her the best of luck!! :)
I slowed my pace down significantly and felt much better. My heart rate slowed back down and I was able to breathe a bit better. I started to look around and enjoy the scenery of downtown Atlanta. It was when I hit the end of the 4th mile that I had a really cool epiphany: I really didn't care about my time!! I was just enjoying being out running! I love races, I love the energy at a race, and I love running... no matter how fast or slow I am. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops!! It was a great feeling! I'm glad it happened then, because I would need that feeling later! LOL
After the nice, flat middle section of the course, it seemed like we made a ton of turns in an apparent attempt to go UP every. single. hill. in downtown Atlanta. I handled them all pretty well until the last couple of miles when there were some really steep ones right after the other. My heart rate was feeling too high, and it made me nervous. I decided to walk those hills to give my body a chance to rest. Once I felt my heart race going down, I started running again.
At long last, I approached the finish line! I was thrilled beyond belief that I had made it! I was going to be a Half Fanatic! I had DONE IT!!! And I looked down at my and was shocked to see that I was coming in a few seconds earlier than at Disneyland!! How bizarre considering I was sick and this course was all hilly compared to flat California?!? Plus I had walked a couple of times! I was pretty darn proud of myself!
I got my absolutely beautiful medal, a neat mylar blanket, and went to find my BFF. Imagine my surprise when she found me at the finish line! She had finished 11 full minutes before me, and 5 minutes before her previous PR at her first half a few weeks ago at Zooma! Yeah, when I tell you she is FAST, I mean it!! She is now 2/3 of the way towards her own Half Fanatic, which she'll finish at the end of January.
We got some water and snacks and headed for the tent of the running store where we were supposed to find the bus. The tent was right at the finish line area right past the snacks ... very convenient! We got our bags and hit the porta potties to change clothes. We got back and did some stretching (and I talked up ROTE to a fellow rider who had her stuff in a Princess Half bag), and then it was time to get on the bus to ride back! The traffic getting out of the regular lots was atrocious, but our bus driver was clever again!! We got out fairly quickly and were back at the store in no time! It was fantastic, and well-worth the money! :)
Overall, this was a fantastic race. So far, physically I feel quite well - and my cold seems to be resolving itself. I was afraid running the distance would set me back, but I have felt pretty well today. And it was much better on me mentally than the Zooma or Disneyland races were. I hope that this marks the demise of my brain playing games with me while I run! I am honestly looking forward to some down time from "training". Not that I'll stop running, obviously, but I have been "half marathon training" for 8 out of 11 months this year, and I'm pretty wiped out mentally. I'm going to enjoy the plateau for the next few months before it's time to start training for the triathlon! :)
Edited to add: How funny! Apparently I must really mean it about "not caring how fast I am" thing... I totally forgot to include my finish time!! Well, here it is - 2:22:57. I actually had to look it up because I had forgotten! Wow! Freaky!!