Area 13.1 Race Recap

Hello, fellow runners! I hope everyone is having a great weekend.  Last night, I completed my 8th half marathon: Area 13.1 aka Alien Half.  This is the first half I ran in the evening.  The location of this race was in Roswell, GA (get the about a 2 hours drive from where I live.

I originally signed up for this race because it lined up perfectly with my marathon training plan.  Plans have changed since my last blog post.  There will be a half marathon called the Soldiers Empowerment Group Assisting Military Individuals (SEGAMI) that will be held on Veteran’s Day.  Some of my friends from my local running group have expressed interest in training for this race.  Instead of training for the Rock n Roll Savannah Marathon and lead the group training for the half at the same time, I decided to sacrifice my 3rd Marathon to focus on leading the group training for the half.  We officially kick off training in a little over a week and I am very excited and humbled to be part of their journey.  I am by no means a running expert but I can share my experiences that have made me successful in the past 4 years.

Yesterday was a LONG day.  I got up at 5 am to meet up with some friends for a 6 mile sunrise run.  The temperature was around 77 degrees and it was a beautiful morning for a run.  I am proud of one for my friends because this run was the longest distance she ran since her injury a couple of months ago.

I left home early afternoon to grab a bite to eat then head up to Roswell.  I left a little early because traffic in the Atlanta metro area is so unpredictable.  I managed to get to the race on time with plenty of time to spare.

The temperature at the start of the race was 90 degrees.  My goal was to complete the race regardless of the finish time.  In other words, this race was for FUN.  Wasn’t going to kill myself attempting to get a PR.

The race started a little after 7 pm.  The route was along the Chattahoochee River.  The course had a little bit of everything:  pavement, sidewalks, an elevated wooden path, and about 1 mile of dirt trails.  This was my second half that was in the country.

According to the race website, the course was relatively flat was one small hill at mile 7.  I don’t think so!


They call that a small hill?? Are you kidding me?? That hill was a challenge.  I was joking around that the race organizers should have stated that Devil’s Tower from Close Encounter’s of the Third Kind was part of the course.  All kidding aside, this is a reason why I am a firm believer that hill training should be incorporated at least once a week.  I was able to conquer this “mountain” with no issues while I noticed other runners struggling or walking.

Around 8:30 pm, the sun set and it was dark.  Also, the number of runners started to thin out. Some parts of the route back to the finish line was lighted by street or portable generator lighting but it was dark for the most part.  I wore a headlamp that I purchased from Amazon but it wasn’t bright enough.  For the last 3-4 miles I tried to slow it down a bit because I didn’t want to end up tripping.  For some reason, the last 2-3 miles seemed like an eternity. But eventually, I made it to the finish line.  I survived the alien invasion and didn’t get abducted.  I received my finishers medal, a cold towel, and some Gatorade. I was very thirsty because I chugged it down in 40 seconds.

My official time was 2:03:18.  The only problem is that according to my Garmin, the course was 12.77 miles long.  If the course was around 13.1, my time would have been in the neighborhood of 2:06.  Regardless, my time was still faster than my first half marathon from April 2014 where my time was 2:08:53.  This is my 5th fastest half time. Overall I was the 186 person to finish out of 648 and placed 23 out of 51 in my age division.  Not bad for a “fun” half marathon.

Prior to the start of the race, my running friends were advising me to be careful, pace myself, and not overdo it.  I think I shocked them because to them my pace was still pretty quick for this distance.  Apparently, I do not know the definition of taking it I basically go with the flow and let my body determine the pace. My feet were hurting a little after the race but today I feel great.

After the race, I grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed back home.  I got in about 30 minutes after midnight. After being up for 20 hours, running a total of 18 miles, and being on the road for 4 hours, I was exhausted.  But it was all worth it.

Well, that’s about it.  Can’t wait till our half marathon training starts the last week of August. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Thanks for reading and happy running!

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Hotlanta Half Marathon 2017 Recap

Hello fellow runners! I hope everyone has had a wonderful week.  Last Sunday, I ran my 7th Half Marathon: The Hotlanta Half.  This was my first half since August 2015 and the longest distance I ran the Rock N Roll Savannah Marathon in November 2015.

This was the 3rd time I ran the Hotlanta Half.  The first time I ran it was in August 2014. My time was 1:58:58.  I ran it again in August 2015 however it was the first race where severe weather snuck in and dumped heavy rain about halfway through.  I remember trying to run in the rain, dodging puddles and makeshift streams. My time for that race ended being 2:00:36.

I started training for this race 13 weeks ago after struggling to get back on a weekly running program. I deployed to the sandbox in the first half of 2016.  While I was there, I tried to keep on a running schedule however it was difficult. After returning from my deployment, I was doing good during the Fall of 2016 but slacked off after the Christmas holidays.  Around the later part of March 2017, I said I needed to get back on track and that’s when I decided to train for the Hotlanta Half as a goal.

My original plan was to drive up to Atlanta EARLY in the morning because (at the time) I had difficulty finding a hotel room downtown that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. However, at the last minute, I was able to get a hotel room about 10 minutes walking distance from the starting line.  It was a little expensive but not as much as some of the other local hotels were charging. Plus my wife was happy we didn’t have to get up at 3 in the morning. We drove up on Saturday and toured the CNN studios and ate dinner at a Pizza restaurant. Before a major race, I always eat Italian or Asian.  It was delicious!

After a (somewhat) good night’s rest, it was race day.  We went to packet pickup about an hour before race start to grab my race bag and get ready for the race.  Of course, it never fails but I had to use the bathroom twice.  I ran into a runner that I met at a 5K race several weeks back. We wished each other good luck and headed to the starting line.

I was in corral D and I attempted to locate the 2:00 pace group.  My goal was to finish no matter what time, however, I did have a desire to finish under 2 hours or even beat my previous PR of 1:54:29.  I couldn’t find them but right before the start of the race, I found them way ahead between corral A and B.  I moved up to get closer to them.  Soon the race officially started. It took me a little while, but I managed to catch up with the pace group.  They must have been flying because the average pace for the first 3 miles was 8:15 a mile.  I went ahead of them and managed to keep a consistent pace trough mile 8. However, I started to run out of gas.  Why?  Because it was practically uphill for the remainder of the race.  I knew that Atlanta had some hills but I apparently forgot how hilly it was.  They should rename the race to the Hilllanta Half.  Here is an elevation chart of the course:


I was getting tired but I was determined to finish.  For whatever reason, the final 2 miles was the longest.  However before I knew it, the finish line was in sight.  I normally make a mad dash for the finish line but not this time. I received my finisher’s medal, grabbed some water and sat down to recover. I was burning up and sore.  I found my wife and we walked back (slowly) to the hotel. I rested a little bit and took a nice hot shower.  Even though I was sore, I decided to go and try to walk it off at Ikea before heading home.


Later on in the day, I found out my official time: 1:56:34.  This is my second fastest time for a half but my BEST time for the course.  A PR would have been nice, but I will settle for 2nd best and course PR considering the hilly terrain.  I believe if the course was flatter, I could have PR’d.  Statistically, I have significantly improved overall and in my age group from when I first ran this race in 2014:

Date Total Time Pace Overall Overall % Divison Division %
8/24/2014 01:58:58 9:05 per mile 284/1175 24% 43/87 49%
8/23/2015 02:00:36 9:07 per mile 280/1083 25% 28/75 37%
6/11/2017 01:56:32 8:53 per mile 262/1524 17% 24/98 24%

I am very pleased with what I have accomplished last Sunday.  I couldn’t have done it without the support of my wife and my new Run For God friends that I have made in the past couple of months. Even though I am a somewhat experienced runner, I too need encouragement and support.

I really don’t have a training plan for the next couple of weeks, however, I will begin training for my 3rd marathon the first week of July. For the 3rd time, I will be running the Rock N Roll Savannah Marathon.  I ran the race back in November 2015 but the race was cut short due to the unseasonably hot temperatures. Even though I got the finisher’s medal and jacket, I never had a chance to PR my first marathon.  I feel confident that I will PR this November.

Well, that’s about it.  Thanks for reading and happy running! Cheers!

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RnR Savannah Marathon Training Week 7: 8/18/2014 – 8/24/2014


I have been working out every day since last Monday so I am definitely taking a rest day today.  While rest days drives me nuts, it is important to rest and recover to prevent injury.

Actual: Rest


I kicked off Week 7 of marathon training with a 3 mile run early in the morning.  Not running related however I was challenged to do the ALS Ice Bucket challenge which I accepted and performed later on in the day.

Planned: 3 mile run
Actual: 3 mile am run (9:21 pace)


I wanted to get my 6 mile run early in the am (when it’s cooler) however when I got up I wasn’t not feeling myself.  For the first time since April, I didn’t feel like running and i was that close to skipping today’s run all together.  However someone came to mind and I ended up running my 6 miles after work – IN THE 105 degree heat! I am glad Wednesday’s are called easy slow run because with the heat – I took it slow! Even though it was hot, I was happy to get my run in!

Planned: 6 mile run
Actual: 6 mile run (11:52 pace)


Today marked the one year anniversary where I made the decision to make running a part of my daily life.  Read more about it here.

Planned: 3 mile run
Actual: 3 mile run (9:18 per mile)


Planned: Rest
Actual: Rest


Planned: Rest
Actual: Travel to Atlanta for Sunday’s race and about a 2 mile walk through Downtown Atlanta.


Planned: Half Marathon
Actual: Half Marathon

Read more about my experience in the Hotlanta Half Marathon here.

Total running miles for the week: 25.1 

Week 7 training is complete! 11 more weeks to Rock n Roll Savannah!

Hotlanta Half Marathon 2014 (and a surprise)

Good morning fellow runners! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Yesterday, I had ran my 3rd half marathon in Atlanta GA.  I primarily did it because the marathon training plan that I am using (Hal Higdon Novice 1) calls to do a half marathon on the Sunday of Week 8.  About a month ago, I researched to see what half marathon’s were available and the closest one I could find to line up with my training plan was the Hotlanta Half.  I just completed Week 7 so I just switched Week 7’s 10 mile long slow distance run for Week’s 8 half marathon.  One thing I have learned about marathon training was flexibility; I have had to shuffle my training around to accommodate my schedule.

My previous half marathon was the Run for God Run at the Mill Half  which I ran this past April.  My time for that was 2:04:32.  I ran my first half marathon the week prior and my time then was 2:08:53.  When setting up my goal PR, I was aiming for 2:03.  I didn’t know what the course was going to be like plus this was the first time running a long distance race in the Summer.  My running buddy’s mother predicted I was going to get a sub 2 but honestly that wasn’t my goal and if I ended up doing that, i would have considered it a bonus!

I live about 90 minutes south of Atlanta however I had to drive up on the 23rd to pick up my race packet.  For some strange reason, the event had race day registration (a last minute addition) but no race day packet pick-up.  Packet pick-up was located at the Downtown location of a running store called The Big Peach Running Company.  After I picked up my packet, I decided to do a little shopping.  I ended up purchasing some socks, KT tape, and a belt to help secure my bib (no more safety pins).

After shopping at the The Big Peach Running Company, I checked into the Embassy Suites.   It would have been a crazy idea to drive all the way back to Warner Robins just to turn around (very) early Sunday morning for the race.  I settled in and checked the contents of my swag bag.  Out of all the races, this one was loaded with a bunch of goodies!


It was still early afternoon (around 4pm) so I decided to get out and check the area around the hotel.  I walked through Centennial Olympic Park (Atlanta was home of the 1996 Summer Olympics). I got some pretty good photos of the park and the downtown skyline.  Walking through the park was also a great cross training activity before the race. After touring the park, I jumped in the car and headed to Duluth GA (about a 25 min drive NE from downtown) to check out a store called Fry’s Electronics. My favorite hobby after running happens to be technology, so whenever I am in the Atlanta area, I try to stop at Fry’s.  Fry’s is an electronic superstore that is bigger than Best Buy.  I bought a couple of things, grabbed some dinner (Chicken Hibachi). and headed back to the hotel.  After I ate my dinner, I made the last minute decision to take the MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rail Transit Authority) to Underground Atlanta.  My original plans was to drive my car and park in the parking deck however I wasn’t sure how traffic was going to be around the race area (probably congested with streets blocked off).  So, I got back out and did a “dry walk” to the MARTA station.  After locating it, I purchased a Breeze Pass (a re-loadable riders card).  It was $5 dollars round trip which wasn’t bad considering that parking at Underground Atlanta would have cost me $3.  On the way back to the hotel, I managed to get some pretty awesome night shots of Centennial Olympic Park and the downtown skyline. Before I went to bed, I got my running gear together.  Then I tried to go to sleep.

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It never fails; I hardly get any sleep before race day (too much excitement).  I got dressed and headed to Underground Atlanta via the MARTA.  It was a quick ride that took about a minute.  I found the bag drop off point and dropped off my bag that contained my cell phone, hotel key card, and MARTA breeze card.  Since I had an hour to kill, I walked around to stretch my legs.  I tried using the restroom but for the first time since I have been racing, I didn’t have to.  Since the race didn’t offer pacing groups, I got a temporary tattoo that listed what time I should be at for every mile (used it as a guide to PR, not necessarily hit 2 hours).7:25 rolled around they asked everyone to report to the starting line. There was about 1175 runners participating in this event.  After the National Anthem, the race started.  Starting out is usually the hardest when you have hundreds of runners all around you.

The race course was very scenic that went around the heart of Atlanta.  We ran by famous landmarks like the State Capitol, Turner Field, Georgia State University, Piedmont Park, CNN Center, Georgia Dome, and Centennial Park. Part of the course was on a fitness trail called “The Beltline”.  There was spectators all over the place cheering us on.  Whenever I had a chance, I thanked the volunteers and police officers for helping out with the race.

Even though the temperature was about 79 degrees with 79% humidity (we had a heat wave earlier in the week), what really got me was the dreaded HILLS.  There were some around the perimeter but the majority was in the downtown area. Especially at mile 10; from there we ran up hill.  The hills were tiring and challenging but I have been running hills at least once a week so I was able to run up them without walking.

When I started out, I was on target for a 2 hour completion time.  There was water stations at every mile but my strategy was to get water every 4 miles.  I was getting hot and tired after mile 8 so I hit every water station after that.  I would drink a little and pour the rest on my head.  I don’t remember when I checked my Garmin but I noticed that my pace was slowing down but it looked like I was on target to at least beat my previous PR.  One thing I did noticed was that my mileage was lining up with the course so in a sense I was already off.

Before I knew it, I turned the corner and the finish line was in sight; UP A STEEP HILL Really?? I was getting tired and weary.  But I pushed myself.  I didn’t know what my time was.  As I approached the finish line, I could see that the time read 1:59:30 so I practically floored it.  I cross the finish line, got my finishers medal, a cool towel and some water.  I stopped my Garmin but the it was off because it read 12.65 miles.  I think the tall buildings may have interfered with the GPS signals.

So I just completed my 3rd half marathon on what turned out to be the toughest course I have ever tackled.  But how did I do?  Well here are my stats:

  • Half  Time: 1:59:39
  • Chip Time: 1:58:58
  • Pace: 9:05 a mile
  • 284 of 1175 overall
  • 43 of 87 for my age group (35-39)

So not only did I BURN (pun intended) my previous half marathon PR of 2:04:32 but I ended up getting my time under 2 hours!!! Not bad for a hilly course!  Must be all the running I have been All kidding aside, it’s the type of training I have been doing.  This is what I usually do:

  • Monday – Rest
  • Tuesday – Fast Tempo Run
  • Wednesday – Easy Slow Run
  • Thursday – Feel Good Run
  • Friday – Rest
  • Saturday – Long Slow Distance
  • Sunday – Cross

NOTE: My running buddy’s mother was spot on in her prediction of me getting a sub 2.  Appreciate her confidence! 

When I first heard these terms, I was clueless but now come to understand them.  I see the benefits (and results) plus it helps prevent injury.  I plan on continuing/adapting this type training going forward.

I don’t what number I am at but this is another race where I surprised myself.  If I set a small goal, I end up doing better.  That’s the way I think and it seems to work.  This will be my last long distance race before my marathon in Savannah this November.  My focus will be running the longer distances even if it’s a slow pace. My first 15 mile run is in a couple of weeks and trust me it’s going to be nice and slow!  I still plan to run some 5Ks for speed work though.  I start Week 8 training this Tuesday but I am going to call this week “Recovery Week”.  I still plan running my miles but at a slow pace no matter what day of the week it is.  I’ll return back to normal training next week.

Thanks for reading about my 3rd half marathon victory.  Tell me, did you set a goal for race and end up surprising yourself? What is the toughest course you have ran so far? Shout out in the comments below! Happy running and be safe!


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New PR for my Second Half Marathon in a week!

Good Evening everyone! Hope you are enjoying this weekend.  I just returned from completing my second half marathon in a week; Run at the Mill in Dalton, GA (sponsored by Run for God). There is so much to tell, so let’s get started!

This race wasn’t only my second half marathon; it also served as a “graduation race” for the Run For God 10K/Half Marathon Challenge course we just completed.  We have been training since early January and even though I already ran my first half last week, I was excited with the rest of my group since today was their big day and first 10K/Half Marathon race.

Our race took place at Prater’s Mill near Dalton, GA about a 3 hour drive from Middle Georgia (to date, this is the farthest I have traveled for a race). It also happens to be the first race where I ran in the country.  The area was beautiful. Here are some pictures of Prater’s Mill:

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Since this was my second half, I set a goal of busting my previous time: 2:08:53.  I’ll be honest, I felt like I had my work cut out for me.  Last week, I didn’t care what time I finished it in; now I had to set a new half marathon PR!

The Half Marathon race started at 7 am, so we got to Prater’s Mill at about 6:15.  I’ll admit, when the alarm went off at 5:15, I didn’t want to get up! When we got there, there was a morning fog and the temperature was a comfortable 53 degrees.  We just hung around and waited for the race to start.  After the National Anthem and prayer, we took a pre-race photo:


We gathered at the starting line and before you know it, we were off.  I did what I did at my last half: ran at a comfortable pace and didn’t pay attention to my running app.  I really wished I could take pictures while I was running; the country side was beautiful with quaint homes, open fields, and farms.  Even though we were running  out in the middle of nowhere, we saw some families who out bright and early to cheer us on.  One of the weirdest things I have never experienced was how spread out we were.  There were several times where I was by myself with a runner or two ahead of me or behind me.  The course was very challenging.  Like my last half, there were many hills however it seemed to be rolling hills.  One hill after another.  At mile 7, we came to part of the course where we ran down the road about a mile and turned around.  What was neat about this part was we seen runners who were coming back.  We started to give thumbs up and compliments to the other runners who had a faster pace.  I saw two of my group runners and I made a point to high five them.  During this part, I had a burst of energy and picked up the pace a little probably because of the encouragement I got from complete strangers.  When I turned around, I did the same thing for the runners that were behind me and I made sure I high fived my team mates.  I believe it was at mile 10 where a runner who was running his first half ran beside me and wished me the best.  I told him this was my second half and my goal was to set a new PR.  He was like “You are doing great: your pace is 9:23“. I was saying in my head “NOOOOO.  I didn’t want to know my pace!!!!” Well since I knew my pace, I figured out I was on target to PR.  Mile 11.  Mile 12.  Mile 12 was a beast!!  There was a big hill climb.  I caught up with one of my team mates and I was pushing her that we were almost home.  Near the finish line, it was downhill.  Now the road leading up to the finish line was gravel so I was concerned about tripping and falling over. I didn’t care; I bolted for it.  As I came around the corner, people were cheering me on and they announced my name, hometown and completion time as I raced for the finish line.  I was fortunate to have a young friend to record on video this special moment and I wished I could upload the video here!

Well my second half marathon came to a close.  My race time: 2:04:29!!!! I SHAVED 4 Minutes and 24 seconds from my half one week ago! I am used to shaving seconds not minutes when setting a new PR!!! Yes! I did it.  I was concerned about running two half marathons back to back a week apart and I am so glad that I took the challenge and succeeded.  I got my race medal and joined the crowd in welcoming everyone across the finish line especially my team mates.  One unique feature about any of the Run for God races is that the awards ceremony doesn’t start until the LAST runner crosses the finish line.  The last two runners (whom I believe drove all the way from Michigan) came in and the crowd went into a roar.  A group of young kids who are training for a triathlon ran with the two ladies as they crossed the finish line.  They may have been last, but in my book they are still winners!

During the awards ceremony, I had to sit down because my back was killing me! After the race concluded, we left and met with some other runners at Cracker Barrel for lunch.  Trust me I was hungry; I cleared my plate in 10 minutes!  After sitting in the car for a while, my back didn’t cause me any more issues.

Yes I am very proud of myself for what I achieved and very proud of my team mates for what they accomplished today.  I consider the Run For God group my family.  They have encouraged and supported me not only in my running but also when I was facing a challenge in my life.  Even though this class maybe over, I hope to run with my RFG friends in the near future.  I am also excited about starting two my challenges on my goals list:  train for the Run for God Triathlon in July and begin training for my first full marathon this coming November.  I am so excited that I am going to start training for it next week!

Thanks for reading about my 2nd half marathon.  Again, I am pleased to what I have achieved and this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my running friends but most of all God!  Happy running and hope to talk to you again soon!


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My First Half Marathon Experience!

Good Saturday afternoon! I hope you are having a fantastic day.  Well I did it. I have completed another milestone in my running adventure: completed my first half marathon! Allow me to share my experiences with you!

I participated in the first annual Chick-Fil-A Half Marathon which was held in Athens Georgia, home of the University of Georgia and the Georgia Bulldogs! Proceeds from the race will benefit a family with a brand new home (Habitat for Humanity).

I arrived early evening last night at the Classic Center to pick up my registration packet and check out the Health and Fitness Expo that was sponsored by New Balance.  I walked around, checked out the vendors and ended up buying a t-shirt and car magnet.  Before I left, I checked out the 1 Mile Run and 1 Mile Family Fun Run that was in progress.  The fasted runner had a time of 4:55! Wow – I wished I could do It was fun to see young boys and girls cross the finish line and I had fun cheering them on with a cow bell!

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I left the expo and headed to my hotel which was about four miles away.  When I got there, I had a problem: I couldn’t get my seat belt to unfasten! It was stuck.  After fighting with it for several minutes, I had to “creatively” exit the vehicle.  I checked in, got a bite to eat, and headed to Walmart to get a couple of things.  I bought some lubricating oil, hoping that would make my seatbelt unfasten.  It worked!!

When I got back to the hotel, I was checking out the stuff in my race packet and getting my gear together for a picture.  I pulled out my bib and noticed that the number was 505, which happens to be my birthday! As I was I was getting everything out of the bag, I notice something was missing.  Actually, four things were missing.  I HAD NO SAFETY PINS!! You gotta be kidding me! Well I didn’t have any in my gym bag, so I had to get back out again.  I didn’t have to go far; there was a Target across the street. I thought it would be easy to find.  Yeah right.  I looked all over the store for 10 minutes and couldn’t find them.  I had to swallow my pride and ask a sales associate.  In the sewing section?  Duh!!  Well now I have spare safety pins in my gym bag just in case if this should happen again.  But then again, I have about 100 at home from previous races!


I got back to the hotel and pinned my bib to my shirt.  After I took a shower, I crashed at about 11 pm.  Don’t get me wrong, I was so excited – I didn’t sleep much! The race started at 7:35 am.  Even though I was 4 miles away, it looked like parking was at a premium and I didn’t want to chance not finding a parking spot and being late.  So I got up at 5:30, put on my cow costume, and left for the race at 5:50. As I was getting into my car, I took off my cow hat and I noticed something dropped in my passenger seat.  I looked and the right eye of my cow fell off!! NOOOOOOOO!!!  All of these technical difficulties!! I didn’t want to run with one eye (the cow, not me!). Well the Target across the street was closed so my other option was Walmart to get some super glue.  While I was driving, I decided to swing in a gas station to see if they carried super glue, Elmer’s Glue, or just plain glue.  Heck, I’ll settle for some tape!! I was in luck; they had super glue! Yay! I bought some and headed to Classic Center. I got there at 6:15; I think other runners were having the same idea was me – getting there early.  I found a parking spot, paid for my parking, and then fixed my cow hat.  Not taking any chances, I glued the left eye! Now, it was the waiting game. I walked around the Classic Center, used the bathroom twice, and sat around.  To my surprise, I didn’t see many people in costume! 7 am rolled around so I checked in with the sprit tent.  They recorded my name and took my picture.  Whoever has the best cow costume, gets one free Chick-Fil-A meal for a year! I didn’t care if I won a prize or not.  I did it to have fun! Or maybe it was the fact last year, I posted on Facebook that if I get 13 likes I run around Athens in a cow costume.  I think I got 40 likes in 45 minutes! Not doing that again! I would have done it not matter what!

The race was about to start, so they asked all the runners to go to a “cow pen” with what pace/completion time they were comfortable with.  This is the first race I have attended where they have pacers.  When I was going in to this, my goal was to just finish; time and pace didn’t matter.  I decided to go with the 2:10 or 9:55 pace.  After prayer and the National Anthem (the way EVERY RACE should start), the gun went off.  Off I went! In my cow outfit.  No turning back now.

Out of all the races I have participated in, this one was the most challenging.  I am not taking about the distance.  I am talking about HILLS.  Athens was built on hills, hills, and more hills.  According to my app, there was about a total of 1095 feet of hill climbs.  I started at a comfortable pace, a little far back from the 2:10 pacer.  It was beautiful going through historic downtown, University of Georgia campus, and the surrounding neighborhoods.  Along the way, I tried to thank all of the volunteers and police officers that were directing traffic, pointing us in the right direction, handing out water, and cheering us on.  The entire route was filled with college students and families that were lining the streets to cheer us on. It was kind of funny, because I seen some of the same people 2 to 3 times because they were traveling by car to strategic points around the course.  Almost 30 people complimented me on my cow costume.

I was getting hot and tired but that didn’t stop me.  I was determined.  I ended up passing the 2:10 pacer at Mile 6 and kept going.  Mile 8. Mile 9.  Mile 10.  I was getting tired but feeling good.  I didn’t know what my pace was and I didn’t care.  I just wanted to finish.  Mile 12.  Now it was crunch time.  I looked at my pace and I was like what??? I kept going.  I’ll be honest, the last mile seem to take forever. Turn this way.  Turn that way.  Where is the finish line??? While I was running, I had the weirdest thing happen to me.  This guy on roller blades with a camera mounted on a pole was cruising down the  street filming me! I wasn’t sure if he was part of the Chick-Fil-A crew or if he was just doing it for the heck of it but he stayed with me for about 15 seconds.  Why did he pick me? Was it because of my cow costume?  There what seem to be like more zig zagging.  Then finally, I noticed where we were at: The Classic Center.  Right turn going downhill.  This is where the crowd was – near the finish line.  Well something got into me, because this cow went flying. For my photo finish, I crossed the finish line with my arms raised.  I picked up my medal, water, and a chicken biscuit. I was tired. I was hurting a little.  But I did it – completed my first half marathon without stopping or walking! I had to sit down. I took off my cow hat I and I was dripping with sweat.  But it was worth it!

Okay, now we come to the part you were waiting for: my time/pace.  I do not know my official time was (I had to leave to check out of my hotel by 1130 – and that was extended checkout!), but according to my app, my time was 2 hours and 9 minutes with an average pace of 9:42!!!! WOOOOOO!!!! Or should I say MOOOOOOOOOO!! Now being able to maintain a pace like that on this hilly difficult course for my first half was an added bonus!!!  Oh here is an added bonus:  my first 5K race pace in 2012 was 10:42 so I am shocked on how far I have come along.

My hard work paid off for my first half.  59 training days.  Over 320 running miles.  Was it easy?  Of course not.  I have had some discouraging days but I pressed on. My friends have been there to encourage and motivate me. But as I said before (and I’ll say it again), I couldn’t have done this without God by my side.

I am still ecstatic about what I accomplished today.  Because of what I was going through the past couple of weeks, I was that close to not doing this today.  I am so glad that I did!

I have my second half marathon one week from today: Run at the Mill in Dalton GA.  This race also serves as a “graduation race” for the Run for God 10K/Half Marathon Challenge class that I am a part of.  After I signed up for the Chick-Fil-A last year, this class was announced.  Since the races were a week apart, I was entertaining the following options:


Skip Chick-Fil-A and do the Run the at the Mill Half

Do Chick-Fil-A Half and do the Run at the Mill 10K

Run both!


Well that was a stupid question I asked because I am ready for my next one.  Now I have a new half marathon PR to set!

This is the longest post entry I have written to date, but I hope you enjoyed it.  Thanks for allowing me to share my first half marathon experience with you and until next time, Happy Running!!


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