I did it! I ran a half marathon and I didn’t fall and break all my limbs. Although, my limbs did feel a lot like spaghetti when I was done.
I feel so proud and accomplished. Let me share a little bit about the race.
I ran the Ath Half, a half marathon that twists and turns around my beautiful city, Athens, Georgia. After my last half marathon mishap with food poisoning, I was so excited to be healthy enough to run this race. I was sick for about three weeks before the big day, but finally started to feel better the Friday before the race. I treated my body as well as possible with a lot of rest and good food (re: carbs) and when Sunday morning came around, I was feeling incredible and very ready to run 13.1 miles.
The race started at 7:30am, so I had a lovely 4:45am wake-up. It was very early, but I was excited to get my body ready. I have some pretty awful belly issues, so I needed to get my carbs in and hydrate well before the race. I ate a bagel and some peanut butter, drank a full water bottle, and caught up on some TV shows. I popped a couple Imodium at about 6:30am and left my apartment to meet some friends who were also running.
We walked up to the start, which wasn’t that crowded when we arrived at 7:00am. There was music and lines of Porta-Potties. I felt all the amazing energy and I started to get pretty excited. Soon after we arrived, we were in our corral and ready to run! We were surrounded by people of all ages and sizes and that made me feel really great. It was a very visible reminder that runners come in all shapes and sizes. After a very beautiful National Anthem, it was time to get moving!
They have four corrals for the Ath Half, but we all ran across the Start within a few minutes of each other. The first part of the race took us through downtown Athens and west on Dougherty St. toward Cobbham. Running through Cobbham was a true highlight. There were hundreds of people lining the streets and some that were sitting on their front porches cheering us on. Each sign I ran by was funnier than the last. It was really entertaining. This was such an easy portion of the race. It was almost entirely flat and very fun.
The next portion of the race took us down Milledge Ave., a main road in Athens. There were a good amount of people on the streets cheering us on, and some pretty homes to look at. Just after mile 4 (and a water stop), we turned onto Lumpkin for a beautiful part of the course. We ran through neighborhoods, down a very long downhill on a main road, and then through a wooded area beside our awesome zoo. After a few steep (but short) ups and downs, we were back on Milledge Ave. and heading toward a less exciting part of the race.
This part of Milledge Ave. was less exciting and a little frustrating. It was slightly up hill or slightly down, so nothing particularly challenging. There wasn’t much to look at and the crowds had thinned out a little. Plus, we had to run by a lot of angry drivers who were stuck in the traffic from the race. I was ready to turn onto Riverbend Parkway to start the journey back toward campus (and the Finish!). Riverbend had even more traffic and angry drivers, but it was a short, downhill stretch with a water and fuel stop and some nice folks from the neighborhood who came out to cheer for us.
At the end of Riverbend, we turned left onto College Station to head back toward campus. After a short, relatively flat stretch, we turned right onto River Road for one of the more physically challenging parts of the race. River Rd. was flat for a good portion of it, but my legs were so tired that I was ready for a break. I ran to the end of River Road (which included an intense but very short uphill at the end of the road) and took a short walking break as we turned left onto East Campus Road.
This portion of the race was extremely hilly, both up and down. The hills are short, but it takes a lot of energy to get up and down and I just didn’t have much left in me at this point. The course turns from East Campus Road onto Carlton Street to weave back around main campus. A little distance from the mile 12 marker, I saw two familiar faces and got hugs from friends. This gave me the energy I needed to get through the last part of the race.
Running through campus for the last portion of the race was invigorating. Especially as a student at the university, I felt inspired by my surroundings. The last part of the race is mostly down hill until we weaved around the Journalism building by Hooper Street and Baldwin Street. But once we got up one last hill, the reward was amazing. The last leg of the race was turning left from Baldwin Street onto Lumpkin St. for a steep downhill. Then we made the final turn and finished the race with a lap around the beautiful stadium.
Running across that finish line was one of the most incredible feelings I’ve ever had. A volunteer handed me a medal and I almost lost it. I trained for months and ran for hours. I put my heart and mind into finishing that race. I had a lot to be proud of.
I celebrated by taking some pictures and texting my loved ones. I stretched, took a long shower, and ordered myself some delicious Thai food. Then I spent about 90% of the day laying down watching HGTV. Quite the celebration, right?
Anyone else out there recently finish a race? Share your experience in the comments below!