The Hills don’t lie. Knowing that a colder winter and more treadmill miles could make this race interesting helped me process when the burn started halfway through. The first two miles of this race are relatively easy, straight or just slightly rolling makes it a great way to get warm and let your legs loosen up, especially when the weather is fair. It wasn’t my best half marathon, but it was so amazing in so many other ways.
Typically after waking up on race day and brushing my teeth, the inhaler comes out, when you typically race in Georgia and Florida that humidity can do a number on weaker lungs. This morning though, for whatever reason it didn’t happen. After pulling up to park at the Georgia Aquarium Deck the realization hit me, and the medium sized panic button was pushed; not because I haven’t run without it before, but because the air was slightly stuffy and in 4.5 years of racing, the inhaler had never been forgotten for longer races.
After doing a mile or so warm up, with some shakeout intervals, going ahead into the corral made the most sense. Disney races change your views of corrals, you get in them early and you learn to adjust to warming up in confined spaces. Feeling right at home and simply hanging out until race time the nerves hit me. But why? This was a city that I had conquered more times than could be counted, and yet toeing the line of another half marathon completely caused the butterflies to invade.
The horn went off, my legs got in their groove, and away we went passing through downtown Atlanta and the surrounding neighborhoods. 7am start times are my favorite, because the sun hasn’t quite come up yet, which means you are in prime racing form by the time the sun peaks in all it’s beauty over the buildings and trees. And apart from running around my own city and enjoying everything it has to offer in the form of views, running with the sunrise is one of my favorite things. So combine the two and there is nothing better when the Lord is trying to grab your attention, and in this race He was.
The nerves were there, my legs weren’t quite all the way there and realizing that it might be better to just let myself go on this one helped shape my perspective for this run. “SEE PEOPLE”. See the push assist partners running down the street, see the officers standing in the chilly early morning making sure you stay safe, see the volunteers who have been setting up since 4am to keep you fueled, see the dad who brought his kids out to the course to cheer on every runner new, experienced, old, and young, and show them what it’s like to engage with a community. And see the community with which you are surrounding yourself with.
The hills made it challenging, but the engagement made it fun! Striking up conversations (until the last mile and a half, because breathing became really hard ya’ll), and cheering each other on to more had to become a standard. It’s one of the reasons this community is so pressing on my heart.
Crossing the finish line was just another line, with another time, but the memories on course is what really stuck. Thanks to the Atlanta Track Club and Publix for putting on another great event; and to the brands that keep me going – thank you for continuing to make products that keep people in the game and around the people and sport they love!
The Lord is good!
What fuels me:
Nuun Hydration, Honey Stinger, Balega Socks, Mizuno Wave Rider
The Hotlanta Half is on deck next, but if I can add another half marathon in there before that – I will be looking to travel for one! This week I will get in a 10-miler in the morning, I will ramp to 13 the week after and 15 the week after that before we head off to Thailand for 10 days.