Thursday, April 18, 2013

Recap: Athens Half-Marathon

Sunday was a pretty fantastic day, I have to say. I spent the extra cash and stayed within walking distance to the start. GREAT decision. We left the hotel room about 7:15 or 7:20 for the 8am start, so we had plenty of time to pee, eat a snack and warm up before the CANON went off. Never heard that before. It was like "Oh, guess we're starting now." I don't even remember hearing the National Anthem, which is pretty typical for these races.

Aaron had a plan to go sub-2, so he took off ahead of me. I started my watch late, so I just looked at it for my mile splits and tried to keep it at 10-minute miles. Seriously, I felt good-good-good for the first, I don't know, 10 miles of the race -- and my splits show where it got tough... and where I realized that and actually manned-up a little.

(Funny thing: I started my watch late and ended up with exactly 13.1 miles!)

My official time ended up being 2:11:05, which is almost exactly a 10-minute pace. That was the goal. Sub-2:10 this fall, though!

Aaron totally kicked ass and finished in 1:56:22 with every mile under 9. That's an 8:52 pace.

The race starts in Uptown Athens at the corner of Union and Court, if you're familiar with Athens. You take off down Union (going the wrong way) and make your way to the bike path that goes along the river, toward Nelsonville. The course is an out-and-back, both for the half-marathon and full marathon. I've decided I love out-and-backs -- that's what my long runs are so I'm used to it. Plus, you get to see the leaders, which I love -- it's great to see how they look like they're working hard, but it's also effortless. Very cool.

Plus I get to see Aaron and usually exchange a high-five, so that's fun.

There were enough aid stations. Most of them had Gatorade and water, but there were a couple with just water. No Gus or anything like that. (You should bring your own anyhow.)

After the turnaround, you continue on the bike path toward campus and finish on the track. It was a little weird because you do 1.5 laps on the track, but it was well-organized and easy to understand. It was a bit of a bummer to pass by the finish line -- and see the finish time! -- and know you have another 400 meters before you're done. The track would be a great place for spectators -- lots of cheering.

And I managed to pass people on the track, so that's great. I know that I could have run harder throughout the race, but I felt solid around 10 minutes per mile and felt like I could finish strong at that pace. So it's a PR in the books and good motivation for a stronger HM next time.

It's an easy course, and it wasn't too crowded. 621 half-marathoners and 204 marathoners. Aaron was #227 (15/27 in his age group and I was #409 (31/57 in my age group). For prime partying afterward, I recommend staying at the OU Inn -- walking around after the race definitely helps with recovery -- but it didn't seem that parking was an issue since you can park Uptown (most of Uptown is still open since the race is primarily on the bike path) and at the Convo. Probably at the football stadium too.

I don't have too many pictures from Sunday night, but there's this one:

And this is probably what Aaron's vision was like too.

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