First a quick update. My four days a week plan worked for nine weeks, but then I got sick (during Atlanta weekend) and my lungs were just not functioning well enough to run, so I took 6 days off, only ran once last week (poorly) and I'm doing three runs this week as I am just getting healthy again. But back on schedule next week! I had a 5K tomorrow which got cancelled, but I was glad, because I was in no condition to run well anyway due to the illness. Next up is a Half on 5/3 which hasn't been cancelled yet, although I'm not optimistic. At least no one can stop me from training! And our group runs haven't been shut down yet. Although my gym closed. Boo hoo.
Anyway, so two weeks ago I was excited to travel to Atlanta and see some running buddies and watch the trials. I flew in Thursday and met up at Carissa's Running Lodge with Caitlin, Roger and T.O. Carissa and Adam were wonderful hosts, along with their three furry friends. We had some long drives to Atlanta three days in a row. Friday was the expo, which was surprisingly lame. Almost no vendors. Lousy merchandise. For some reason they had an indoor high jump and shotput competition going on in the middle of the expo. But we did see some famous faces: Paula Radcliffe, Kara Goucher, Gail Devers. Also ran into Loopsters Dan Tian and Rebecca Trachsel.
Earlier we had a little shakeout run in the chilly weather. Who knew you needed layers to run in Atlanta? And there was a Flying Tomato sighting!
Saturday was the trials. We got down there early and got to see everybody warming up behind the start line. We were arms length from all the best runners in the country. It was fun to see them all up close just acting like normal runners - nervously going through their routines. Galen Rupp was all business, but most of the others had smiles. I got to say Hi to two guys I knew from my local running group, just as they lined up (in the back of the pack). As the race got underway, we walked a few blocks over to Peachtree, where the men and women did out and backs three times. So there was almost constant action going by. The crowds were loud and the excitement was palpable! Roger started chatting with a guy who was rooting for his son. It turned out his son was Jacob Riley who ended up getting 2nd! When the women came by at mile 21 and two women I never heard of were breaking away it was quite shocking! Where was Molly Huddle? And Jordan Hasay? And the other favorites? It was quite exciting. It was really windy and cold. I felt bad for the runners battling that wind. And the hills. But it wasn't too bad for spectating.
Then we relaxed and got ready for our own race on Sunday. Tom and I were running the half and Carissa did the full while the others cheered. I worried about the cold, but the next day the wind had died to nothing, so the 33 degree temperature was much more bearable. I ditched all my extra clothes in the start corral.
I was starting to feel sick and coughing up some junk, but it wasn't bad (yet). It didn't seem to bother me while running. I just coughed a lot after I finished and by the next day it really kicked in. But I'm getting ahead.
So we all started together, which allowed us to get this cool photo right at the start.
My race "plan" was very soft. I wanted to see if I could run sub-8 pace and break 1:45. But I was not real confident and I didn't care too much. The constant hills had me a little worried. As did my sickness. I figured to just run with the group for a while and see what happened. Have fun out there. I ran with Carissa the first mile and we lost Tom right away in the crowd. Pace felt easy as it was mostly downhill. 7:54. Good, OK. But then we found the rolling hills and my pace dragged. And Carissa slipped ahead in mile 2 and it was too much work to try and keep up so I let her go. I kept her in sight for 2-3 miles but then she was gone - on her way to another ho hum BQ. Never saw Tom, although he was within a minute or two of me the whole way. So I was on my own. I clicked along in a comfort zone that was just over 8 minute pace. 8:02, 8:10, 8:15, 8:05. Hard enough to be working without thinking I was going to die. Each little hill was its own challenge, but of course the downhills were lovely! Passed this strange restaurant which we ended up going to for lunch after the race. Excellent burgers at the Vortex!
7:58, 8:25, 7:52, 7:42, 8:16 through ten. Miles 8-9 were nice with long downhills and going through a park. I was starting to feel pretty decent. Started searching for Carissa's ponytail in case maybe I might catch her (nope).
But then the last three miles were mostly up hill, and my adrenaline flagged. And then left entirely. 8:08 and 8:27 for mile 12 where I considered walking up a particularly long hill. 8:06 for mile 13 as I tried to give what I had left to get to the finish. I knew 1:45 was gone. I thought I had a shot at sub 1:46 until mile 12, and then I was just shooting for sub 1:47. I gave a little kick down to the finish - the same finish the trials people had just run down to punch their Olympic tickets.
My watch showed 1:47:02, but officially I got 1:46:59. So 1:46 it is! I'll take that. Not close to where I want to be, but just fine for where I am now. And I loved the whole weekend with my buddies.
Back to work. Life is good.