Sunday, January 25, 2015

Callaway Gardens Half Recap


It is always so pretty at Callaway Gardens.  It was a chilly 28 degrees but warmer than last year.  The sun was shining with little wind - just about perfect!  You begin by circling one of the golf courses.  Today, it was dazzling in the sun with a heavy coat of frost.  We were warned about icy bridges, but the ice was gone once I reached the first one.  There is a point around mile 4 that is just take-your-breath-away beautiful.  On one side is a large reflective blue lake and on the other are green towering pines.  You then cross over a lovely bridge.  It's moments like these I could care less about pace or finish times.  I am here.  I am healthy.  It is sunny.  I am outside.  It is spectacular.  It is why I do what I do.

This is a hilly course so the plan was to keep myself in check during the first easy miles so I could manage the hard ones later on.  Early in the race, I felt in control and my pace was conservative.  I usually calculate my finish time at 4.4 miles by multiplying my time by 3.  It gave me a 2:04.  Good enough!  Then... the big hills began.  I was so intent on climbing one long mountain hill,  I forgot to do my next calculation at 6.6 miles -- when I would typically double my time.  Around mile 8, I estimated it was now going to be closer to 2:06.  (I ran 2:07 last year so I feel good about it.)  But, I gave up on the math.  It was wearing me out as much as the hills.  This race is like childbirth.  You block out the tough parts and then do it again (and again).  I always forget how hilly it truly is.  In fact, it is THE hilliest of all my half marathons.  How do I forget that?

Yes, it feels tough, but I'm OK until mile 10.  Uh-oh!  What's that?  Oh, it's my left IT band singing the blues.  {The Thrill is Gone...The Thrill is Gone Away...}  Now why would it do that?  It hasn't sang in ages!  Also around this point, you turn into deep woods on a narrow bike path which is severely buckled.  It seems worse each year and is now a safety hazard.  There are so many tall humps - what feels like every few yards - and none of them are marked.  With it being sunny and deep in the woods, you've got that disorienting dappled light making them extremely hard to see.  It is during these miles that I lose more time, trying to be extra careful and stretching the old knee several times.  I do this weird high step march for my IT band/knee.  It's not an all-out stop but it's pretty close.  I had to do this at least 3 times, maybe 4.  This section might as well be on mountain trails.



A Beautiful Place to Run Even in Winter
For the last mile, you pop out of the woods and back on the road, which is still in the woods but the pavement is back to smooth and wide.   My finish time was 2:09:24 (unofficial chip - gun time was more).  Not what I was hoping for (is it ever?) but I relished every step, even the hurdles over the bad pavement and the ridiculous-looking marching steps to help my knee.  It's what I do.  And, I'll do it again and again.



The after party (very loosely speaking) is just Gatorade, water, apples, bananas, cookies and granola bars.  Sufficient.  It is held in their summertime circus tent.  I swear I kept getting a whiff of elephant poop.  It couldn't have possibly been us stinky runners...

An odd thing is they give no overall, masters etc. awards.  The winner, for example...they gave him an age group award and then made an after comment about his win.  "The first place male in the 30-34 age bracket is John Doe.  Be sure to congratulate John because he also won the race".  Weird.  Pull him out of age group and reward him for winning!!  Jeez

All this being said (I know I've gone very long for me!), it makes my 2nd Place Age Group Award all the more special.  Hard earned.  I realize my time would not even be anywhere near the ballpark of an award at a larger race.  But *ahem* I participated and therefore had the opportunity to place.  







So, I spent the weekend just doing what I do.

Did anyone else race or do something fun?  

I'm linking up with Tara @ Running 'N' Reading for the Weekend Update.  

Please visit Tara and all the other participating bloggers!


28 comments:

  1. Congrats on the AG award! This race sounds really pretty! And hard...

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  2. Congratulations on the age group placement! That's really weird about not giving the race winner his due props. I had a 5K do something weird once too... The 1st place female in my AG was also the winner of the race, and they gave her the award for winning AND the 1st place AG award, knocking me out of placing. I've never known a race to do that! Overalls have always been pulled from the AG pools!

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    1. Double awards just isn't right!. I think this is the only race I've ever done that does not pull out overall winners. They do the same thing in their 10k in the fall. Strange.

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  3. Sounds like a tough race but wow what a beautiful course! Well done! Congrats on snagging an award!

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    1. Very peaceful. Except for the dude singing along with his music. Hello...other runners present!

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  4. Congrats on the award! Great finish time especially considering that you kept stopping to stretch!

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    1. Thanks. Just not my best day in that regard. You always get something different.

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  5. Congrats on placing 2nd place in your AG! I love the picture of the lane in the woods. So lovely!

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    1. Thank you! It is the reason to run this one. Simple beauty.

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  6. Congrats on another AG place :) It's amazing to me you are doing math while running on hills lol...seriously, I wouldn't be able to do that. Hills are tough stuff!! Did the IT band stop hurting after you were done?

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    1. Thanks. My brain gets tired from the math! The great thing about my IT issue is as soon as I stop, it stops! I have a little soreness today, but it is OK.

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  7. Congrats. That is a great time for a hilly one (and even a non-hilly one.) And congrats on a well deserved award (They are always deserved.) Love a pretty course. Makes all the difference.

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    1. The course does make a huge difference. I'm still looking for what will be my first marathon course. I want something very pretty!

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  8. Congrats on your age group award. I won a 2nd place at a 5k once because it was the weekend of a much bigger race and all the fast runners were there instead LOL.

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    1. I'm always shocked to get an AG award when I've thought I didn't do as well as I should have. Whatever works!

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  9. Congrats on your AG award, very cool!!!!!
    28 to me is the perfect running temp too, I say that because that is pretty much the average give or take on my morning runs this past month. Chilly, but in a way perfect!
    Great job, I wish I could say I was out racing last weekend too, but if you ask me that in a couple of months I may finally get to say yes:)

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    1. It is a great temp, as long as there is no wind! Then, not so good. I am going to ask you about racing in a couple of months! Glad to hear you may be getting back out there.

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  10. Congratulations on your race. Even with some IT band issues you did great! feel proud of your accomplishment.
    -L

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    1. Thanks! You just have to deal with what you get on race day.

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  11. WOW! What a great race, gal!! Sheesh, you powered through that one and finished with a great time! I'm so excited for you!! Well, not the pain part, obviously - ha! I hope you'll have some time to recoup and recover; what a fantastic effort! Thank you so much for linking up to the blog again this week and I hope your week is off to a good start.

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    1. I enjoy the link up. It's fun to see what others do over the weekend.

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  12. Woo placing in races! Great job! Callaway Gardens is so pretty! I bet it's a great run :-) And it was definitely elephant poo....

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    1. Thanks. I'll do it again next year! It just had to be the elephants...

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  13. Nice hardware!! It's so great to earn a little something for all that hard work.
    I'm still laughing about the whiff of elephant poo! :)

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    1. Thanks! The eau de elephant was pretty intense. I'm glad the smell went away when I got in my car, otherwise I'd have a really bad complex.

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  14. Nice work on the AG placement! I think it's odd when races don't pull the overall winner out of their AG, too! And sucks for second in whatever AG that is! LOL.

    I wonder if they can start marking the buckled course next year! That sounds really tricky to navigate! Sounds like a beautiful course overall, though! :)

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    1. Thanks. This is the only race I've done that doesn't pull out any overall winners, not even first place male and female. Truly odd.

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