This race was on my calendar as a mini goal in my recovery, but I didn’t take the plunge of signing up until a few day before online registration closed. I hadn’t done more than walk at that point. Luckily, the pace requirements were a 25 minute mile for the 5k and once I started walking, I knew I could pull that off, so I signed up. 5k number 20 since I started running not quite two years ago was happening! Right after signing up, I started out my 15k training running 30:30 intervals leading up to packet pickup and ran a mile one morning and 1.5 another morning. Biggest challenge appears to be building up strength in my foot as I do have soreness around my ankle after my runs.
Packet pickup was split between Big Peach’s Alpharetta and Midtown locations over the weekend for Alpharetta and on Tuesday and Wednesday for Midtown. Given there is one food place nearby in Alpharetta I missed, I chose to drive over on Saturday. I picked up my packet super quickly thanks to great organization and found a pair of thermal socks on sale to try. Goodness knows colder days would be ahead. I then was able to grab lunch at ‘Cue, another amazing barbecue place in the Atlanta area.
(L-R, top-bottom) Pretty much no wait at the 5k section (or the half, not pictured), the course map (very similar to the Hot Chocolate 5k course that I PR’ed, but a PR was not going to be the goal), swag bag and all the goodies.
The day after packet pickup was my first attempt at interval running the scheduled distance. It was in the 30s so I got to try the thermal socks and my race shirt, but aside from that, this run sucked. My right shin was super sore, so I hobbled around the rest of the day with both legs/feet mad at me. I chose to skip the plan calling for a run Tuesday and chose to rest up for Thursday. Thursday morning was a 5am wake up call due to the suggested arrival of 6am per the Atlanta Track Club emails. Trust me, y’all, if a race organizer suggests getting there by a certain time, they know what they are talking about, especially the ATC. I was due to arrive right at 6am, sat in a small back up off the exit and easily scooted into the blue lot and settled in for a power nap as the half marathon started at 7:30 and the 5k didn’t start until 8.
After a porta potty trip, I was ready to walk down the steps to cross the green lot and line up in front of Turner Field. Thanks to Pokemon Go, I realized there actually was a Hank Aaron 715 spot and I took a picture in front of the historic spot. How I missed this in all my Turner Field visits, I will never know. I was set to have plenty of time to make the corrals, but realized when I stopped at the merch tent that the “We are Atlanta Track Club” tees were available and I left all money in the car. I made a quick decision to do the ultimate warm up and go back to the car for money before the start line. By the time I got back, it was 7:50 and corral H was packed. I finally made my way to the back part of the corral where I had a few minutes to gather my thoughts.
I was nervous about doing 30:30 intervals because I didn’t want to clog up the start for fellow runners. I was testing Runkeeper vs the Fitbit Blaze in tracking a race for the first time, so I had to start two devices. I was worried this would end up being my worst running 5k (now to simply be known as worst 5k), although I insisted time would not matter, but finishing healthy would. When I got to the starting line, I decided to run the first minute just to avoid anyone running into the back of me, but that fear proved to be unfounded as there were tons of walkers across the road to weave through. Somehow, I also realized it was the longest 30 seconds ever as I didn’t get a cue and somehow Runkeeper wasn’t started. Whoops. I got it going and started doing intervals weaving through the crowd heading down Georgia Avenue. I settled into a good rhythm of taking a quick peek behind me before I started my walk intervals.
I knew I was moving pretty fast as I got a good power walk on the walk portion, but that hill on Georgia Avenue seemed never ending. I was doing pretty well with trying to make my run intervals count, aiming for goal points. By the time I passed the mile one sign, I was far exceeding pace to beat the worst 5k and my foot was happy to be running. Race pace is not a myth, folks! The pace I was keeping was feeling rough with a hill up Cherokee running, so I slowed down some here, including extra walking around the water stop. The water stop was well stocked with water and volunteers handing it out. I aimed for what I thought was the end of the tables, but ended up more in the middle, but still avoided the crowd at the first part of the table. Once I got past the water stop and up the hill, I resumed intervals. At the next turn there was a super enthusiastic volunteer who I got my high five from. I think I need to make getting a high five a race goal every race. I know I’ve gotten a lot of them, but maybe not at every race.
Suddenly I got my second wind for the stretch down Memorial that doesn’t have super long hills. I was starting to pass and be passed by the same group of people, so despite running intervals, I was keeping pace with some that were only running. I was so focused n running, I realized my music wasn’t playing and I attempted to fix it, but I don’t think I I ever did. Soon I could see the turn onto Capitol and I knew that aside from one big hill up the overpass that I was almost there. Despite two previous races, I forgot that the hill really started on Memorial, but I reminded myself I was so close. I then cemented my finish strategy to run from the Olympic Rings to the finish when I saw the mile three sign not much further down.
I was so excited as I got closer to the finish line and I threw my arms up as I crossed. After having an injury, I realized just how amazing a race finish really is and I probably will savor all finishes even more. And it was time to get the goodies – a finisher medal, bottle of water, snack box and Powerade. I’ve learned that Powerade can be a huge help after a race so I’m grateful for the ATC for providing that post-race. The snack boxes are amazing as you don’t have to juggle multiple food items and no one is grabbing all of one item. It comes with a wet wipe, too. I don’t know about you, but I can get messy, so a wet wipe is a great add to the boxes.
I finally looked at ChronoTrack to see what my time was since Runkeeper started too late and I realized I didn’t stop my Fitbit Blaze until I was well down the line of post race goodies. 42:08 was the worst 5k and imagine my surprise when my time showed as 40:10. Beating 40 minutes is one of my usual race goals, but given the comeback, I’m not complaining about missing that by 11 seconds. That was probably the most excited I’ve been about an over 40 minute race in awhile. Compared to the rest of my 5ks, this time was my tenth fastest. And as skeptical as I’ve been about the run-walk method, this proved that it can work for me. Considering it’s the only way I’ll be 15k ready by January 22, I’m glad it works for me.
The new stat I love from my Blaze is floors climbed and this race totaled 23. And I got my “We are Atlanta Track Club” and a magnet for my car. Consider me a happy runner girl, again!