2015 marks the 9th edition Publix Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon and it also marks my 9th edition as a participant in the half marathon. Running this race has become an annual rite of spring and a great way to gauge my run fitness going into the triathlon season.
Race morning started with the predicted rain that I had been watching all week. I had hoped that there might be a window of light to no rain for the race but from the weather radar it didn’t look like that was going to happen. After an easy drive down to Centennial Olympic Park and parking in my not to be disclosed secret parking spot, it was time to get out of the car and head over to the starting area. After checking my bag of dry clothes at the bag drop I started a short warm up around the park. My legs felt a little heavy during the warm up but loosened up toward the end. I went into my starting corral feeling good and anticipating a good race. My race plan was to go out conservatively (unlike in years past) and save something for the hills in the last 5k of the course.
Mile 1 (6:15) This was actually holding back compared to previous years. Most of the time I’m around the 6 minute or under for this mile since it is all downhill.
Mile 2 (6:25) I felt good during this mile as well and pushed the pace a little. The majority of this part of the course is flat/downhill with a small rise in front of the Atlanta Civic Center.
Mile 3 (6:32) The light rain let up almost completely by the time we hit Mile 3. There is a short hill before you go over the interstate right at the end of the mile and that accounted for the longer time. Still feeling good here and working toward a good race.
Mile 4 (6:57) This part of the course winds through the Sweet Auburn area and MLK historic site. After taking a left at Ebenezer Baptist Church there is a false flat/very slight grade for ¼- ½ mile that was harder than it should have been and I began to have doubts about running under 1:30.
Mile 5 (6:41) Inman Park is one of my favorite areas to run through and luckily it is mostly flat on this portion of the course. I was able to right the ship (a little) and get back on track before the long hill into Little 5 points.
Mile 6 (6:55) This is the point where the worm started to turn on this race. It was raining a little harder now, my feet were completely soaked, and the hill going up to the Carter Center (and the 10k mark) was more challenging than it has been in the past. Interestingly enough I was 4th in my age group at the 10k split and ended up 14th by the finish. The front half was definitely the best part of the run for me.
Mile 7 (7:07) I say it every year but this is by far my least favorite mile on the course. This is where the half and full split and there is a giant hill right at the beginning of the mile that just saps all of the energy out of your legs.
Mile 8 (6:57) As much as I dislike Mile 7, I love Mile 8 the most. This is where the half course goes through the Highlands area of town which is one of my favorites. I would love to live down here at some point.
Mile 9 (6:51) I like to refer to this as “The Green Mile” or some other appropriate nickname for the condemned headed to the gallows as this is the LAST piece of flat ground until the finish line. I knew that I was skating the line on running a sub 1:30 so I mentally prepared to run the last 4 miles hard.
Mile 10 (7:38) As I exited Piedmont Park the 1:30 pace group came running past which was mentally defeating. I tried to hang with them as long as I could but it just wasn’t happening. As I turned left onto Juniper Street (the most loathsome piece of asphalt in the city of Atlanta) it started to rain harder and I realized that sub 1:30 wasn’t happening. I was done mentally so I shut it down and ran easy to the finish.
Mile 11 (7:47) Cruised through the Tech campus and past the football stadium.
Mile 12 (8:07) Lost a little focus here as the rain started coming down even harder.
Mile 13 (7:57) By this time I was just ready to be finished with the race and change into some dry clothes.
Finish Time-1:33:36 (14th/473 M40-44 AG)
Normally after finishing a race I hang around to cheer on other athletes and socialize with people that I don’t get to see that often. After this race it was get my medal, grab my food bag (thanks Publix!), get my dry clothes and head for the car.
Overall I feel that this was a disappointing race since I genuinely felt like I had a 1:27-1:28 in my legs before the race and during the first 5-6 miles, only after the big hill at Mile 7 did I start having doubts about going sub 1:30. I probably didn’t go into this race 100% prepared due to missed training and being 6-7 pounds heavier than where I normally am this time of year.
On a positive note this was my first race with the new Garmin 920xt and I have to say that I am a fan. Not only does it record speed/distance/heart rate/elevation like standard watches, I also recorded average cadence (176 rpm) and stride length (which got shorter and shorter after the Piedmont Park section). It also wirelessly logged my workout when I pulled into the driveway and it acquired my Wi-Fi network. How’s that for technology?
If you are looking for a great early season test and a great way to see the city on foot I highly recommend the Publix Georgia Half Marathon. Just don’t forget the hill training!
Did you run in this year’s GA Half Marathon? How was your race experience?
About the Coach
Brett Daniels is a USA Triathlon Level II Coach based in Atlanta, GA. Brett began his multisport career with a reverse sprint triathlon (5k run, 20k bike, 300m pool swim) in Kuwait while deployed in support of Operation Desert Thunder. Since then he has completed well over 100 multisport races from sprint to Ironman (Louisville x2, Lake Placid, Coeur D’Alene) including the 2008 Ironman 70.3 World Championships.