2021 Atlanta Half Marathon Race Report



My training heading into the race was the most prepared for a race I'd ever been. I say this only having run a 5K and a 10K within the last 15 months, so the whole race idea is still new to me. My training for this race really started in November 2020. 

I ran a 10K last March and then the pandemic hit, and any race aspirations went out the window. As did my running habits. I wasn't all that consistent and kept picking up nagging injuries. Starting in September I was able to slowly starting working my way back to consistency again. I was taking things slow and my mileage started to increase week by week. Pace wasn't a focus, it was purely building bricks of aerobic performance. 

My mileage went from running four miles in August, to 137 miles this month. It was all about pacing myself and not pushing. Walking and stretching more consistently, getting a standing desk to be on my feet more, and not being an idiot. 
I would mostly have days with three mile runs and have one long run a week. Those long runs started with six miles and every one or two weeks would add a mile. Resulting in a 14 mile run two weeks before the half marathon. I ended up running three half marathons in February and felt great doing so. 

Slow and steady was my training method for this race. Volume over speed. My plan for this race and whenever I run a marathon, is about simply building that aerobic base. I never ran anywhere until about 15 months ago. So this is still a learning process for me. Speed will come later, now, I'm just laying a foundation.

Day Before Race

This was the first race I've run that was longer than a 10k, so it was the first time I was considerate of what I ate beforehand. Here's what I ate after noon the day before the race.

Two packs of beef Ramen (sodium and carb heaven) and a cup of Jasmine rice for a snack. 
A meal bar, wheat thins, granola, and nonfat Greek yogurt. 

I didn't prepare all that well at the store for this pre-race day food. So I would do something a bit different from the Ramen and wheat thins. Although, during the race I had plenty of energy and didn't hit a wall. So I suppose I did something right.

Race Day

This was a race where I had to drive over an hour the morning of the race and had a start time of 8:45AM. So in order to get hydrated, fed, and have a date with the loo; I had to wake up early. Here's how my schedule played out.
4:45AM Wake up
5:00AM Two pieces of toast with butter and peanut butter
5:15AM Cup of black coffee and 32 ounces of water. 
6:00AM Stretching and bathroom. 
6:30AM Leave the house
7:45AM Banana (One hour before start time)

Warmup at the track consisted of simply walking and stretching. I've found my race day nerves to be consistent and haven't injured myself, yet, coming too hot off the break.

During the Race

Hydration and nutrition:
One Gu energy gel every four miles. Ended up consuming three. At the four mile mark and eight mile mark I picked up a water bottle and poured G1M Sport into each and slowly sipped on it during the race.

Stats: 13.1 miles, time 02:10:51  Estimated pace 09:59. Pending official results from the race.

Strava says I only ran 12 miles. Which is what happened during my 10K last year. There's more people who have this problem online and its only as accurate as my watch's GPS is. So Apple Watch, you suck.

Overall, I felt incredible in this race. For the first time, in my mere three races, I felt like my training was replicated and exceeded on the course itself. My training pace was usually around 11:00-11:30 minute per mile pace at around a 130 heart rate. 

The first 9-10ish miles of this race I was on cruise control, and it felt like a training run. Then there was randomly a steep hill and it spiked my heart rate to 170. The timing was unfortunate, because I was working towards peaking with my pace around mile 10. I stuck to that plan and for the most part finished as strong as I expected. Finishing with a 200 heart rate at the final sprint.

The Atlanta track club did such a good job of keeping things safe. It was very distanced, masks were enforced outside the track, and they had appropriate safety measures in check. An incredible experience and it was nice feeling safe. 

To pass the time, I listened to the Rewatchables podcast on Out of Sight. Great movie. Peak Clooney smile and hair. Then finished up with the usual mid 2000s rap. 

Pending a drastic shift in my time from the results, I more than exceeded my goals for this race. I was purely wanting to prove to myself I could run a half-marathon without stopping. I'd done it twice this month at home, and wanted to do it on a real course. My pace was a minute faster per mile than I planned on running at, I didn't have to slow down once, and felt great after. I'm fully addicted and so thankful for health despite being an old dad on an ACL repaired knee to be able to put these sort of miles in.

It was strange not celebrating with a group of people. I missed the post race grilled cheese and beer. However, the beer was supplied by my dad for a little after race hang out. Chocolate milk and a cliff bar had to suffice at the race.

Now it's time for a marathon.