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:

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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.

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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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Hotlanta Half Marathon Training Week 10: 5/22/17 – 5/28/17

Monday – Rest Day

Tuesday 

I had a 5K race scheduled for Saturday so I did the training plan shuffle and ran 12 miles for my long distance slow run.  My original plan was 9 miles but I wanted to push myself and threw in an extra 5K. It started raining halfway through my run but it felt good. I was surprised that my pace was 34 seconds slower than my half marathon PR pace. I think the paperboy was stalking me because I saw him delivering papers on the main road but I ran into him again when I ran through a subdivision.  My running group had a run scheduled for Tuesday night but the weather was not really cooperating however some members did show up so I ran an additional 3 miles with them.

Planned: 9 miles. Actual: 12 miles (morning, 9:19 pace) 3 miles (evening 10:31 pace)

Wednesday 

I was a little sore from all the running I did the previous day that I decided to take a rest day.

Planned: 5 miles. Actual: Rest Day

Thursday 

Met up with my running group in the evening for 5K run.  I wanted to get 5 miles in so I ran 2 miles prior to the start of the group run.  When everyone showed up, I gave them a choice to run hills or without.  To my surprise, everyone voted to run hills.  When we started, I ran a faster pace so I can stop and cheer everyone as they climbed the big hill. Everyone did a great job and some commented they noticed some improvement.

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Planned: 5 miles  Actual: 5 miles (8:55 pace)

Friday

I was going to meet one of my buddies in the am for a run however he was not able to make it so I ended up running solo.  I ran 5 miles at a faster than usual pace. Probably the funniest thing that happened was I ran into a runner going in the opposite direction only to see her again 20 minutes later again going in the opposite direction! She must have mapped out the same running route as me..lol.

Planned: 5 miles. Actual: 5 miles (9:06 pace)

Saturday  

Ran in the Lt Col Melvin T. Ingram Memorial 5K Run. You can read about it here.

Planned: 5K race Actual: 5K race (8:15 pace)

Sunday

I normally bike ride on Sunday’s for cross training, however, my wife and I joined some friends for an out of town event.  We were heading to Downtown Atlanta when we went through a time portal and ended up in the past at the Georgia Renaissance Festival. It was a lot of fun!

Planned: Cross training. Actual: A lot of walking!

That summarizes Week 10.  2 more weeks to race day.  Thanks for reading and happy running 😉

Monthly Training Summary: August 2014

Running 100 miles
Biking 62 miles

August 2014 Highlights

  • Set a new half marathon PR at the 2014 Hotlanta Half (1:58:58)
  • I am 70% (700 miles) into my goal of running 1000 miles this year
  • Completed over 25% of my marathon training
  • Wrote my first online review of the 2014 Hotlanta Half at BibRave.com
  • Including travel expenses, the Hotlanta Half is the most expensive race I have ran in to date

 

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

Monday 

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.

Planned:
Actual: Rest

Tuesday

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)

Wednesday

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)

Thursday

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)

Friday

Planned: Rest
Actual: Rest

Saturday

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

Sunday 

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!

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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 doing..lol. 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!

Troy

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One Year Running Anniversary

Hello fellow runners! Hope everyone is having a great week. Today is a very special day for me.  I have been running on a continuous basis since August 21, 2013.  (Learn about how seriously I took running prior here). Since then I have made some significant progress.  Here are some highlights:

Despite all these accomplishments, there are several things that I am thankful for.  First and foremost, I give praise to the Lord.  Because of Him, I wouldn’t be at where I am today – both physically and spiritually.  Second, I have made some great friends through the Run for God – Warner Robins group that are joined in September 2013.  Third, I have networked  some great runners through social media that have provided me with encouragement and support.  And finally, I was finally matched with a running buddy through the I Run 4 program.

How do I celebrate my one year running anniversary? With a run of course! I decided to run the same course I did exactly one year ago.  It was the night I met up Run Fit Sports for their first group run.  Well I did horrible that night.  I remember getting sick to my stomach (probably because I ate right before the run).  I ran 2.88 miles in 32:52 with an average pace of 11:24.  Even if I didn’t get sick, my time would still be horrible. Prior to August 21, 2013, I only ran 50 miles for the year.  After I got off work, I went home and took a nap.  About an hour later, I got up, got dressed and drove to the running location and ran my 3 miles.  This afternoon was a scorcher; the heat index was about 105 degrees. But that didn’t stop me from what I wanted to do.  Even my right leg was hurting a bit but I dressed it in athletic tape.

So how did I do?  Well let’s just say despite the heat and dodging traffic, I blew my previous run out of the water big time! My time was 28:29 with an average pace of 9:18 per mile!!! I was very happy at what I accomplished this afternoon.  

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Thanks for reading (and celebrating) with me the one year anniversary of  the day I made the choice to make running a part of daily life.  Running has definitely changed my life for the good.  I’ll close with the following quote that I found this morning.  It’s funny that I found it on this special day 😉

BvjrEl3CAAArUNG

Take care friends!

Troy