Sunday, January 28, 2018

Callaway Gardens Half Marathon (WW # 130)




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Callaway Gardens Half Marathon
January 27, 2018
Pine Mountain, GA
Half Marathon # 51


My 4th, 13th, and 30th half marathons were on the beautiful property of Callaway Gardens.  I also love to ride my bike there.  All these halves later, it remains one of the prettiest, and toughest, courses I've ever run.  My best finish time on this course ranks low in my overall times.  It's just always tough.  Seeing I had a long run scheduled for the weekend however, I thought it would be nice to run it again.  If for no other reason...the scenery.  There is just something about this race that is so peaceful; the serenity of those Georgia hills in the middle of the woods.  No crowds.  No traffic.  Just me and the great outdoors.

Taken on a bike ride last year (no blue sky at this race)

The day dawned rainy.  When I arrived in Pine Mountain, it was only misting and it looked like the rain would hold off for a while.  It was around 50 degrees but the wind was gusty.  So, I ran in my usual tank and arm sleeves but wore capris.   This is not a large race so parking and packet pickup are always easy.  We received a soft blended T-shirt, but nothing more.  There were real restrooms available; always appreciated.



I kept telling myself this was nothing but a long training run.  But with the excitement and the easiest part being early, I began with a pretty strong tempo 5 miler.  I did not stop for water until mile 5.  I knew it would be tough from here on out.
 
I got out of tempo mode quickly and tried to navigate the bigger hills as best I could.  Some places are so steep you almost have to walk a few steps.  And I did.  I tried to make up time on the downhills.  Not really liking the Cerasport they were serving, I sipped on Coke (chased by water) a few times which is something I've never done.  I liked it.

It gets pretty darned tough after mile 5.

I still felt relatively strong until mile 10.  At this point, runners enter into the paved trail system.  This part is so pretty but the twisty, windy, up & down narrow trail is hard to navigate.  I began to regret the earlier faster miles and the hills had simply already whipped my butt.  I thought often about my friend Teresa who was running her first marathon.  That motivated me to keep moving.  I sent all the good vibes her way.

Deep in their trail system, on a sunnier day.

So now I'm really insisting to myself that this is a nothing but a training run and slowed down considerably by adding in a few walk breaks.  My right foot was cramping on and off.  It was raining and I only know because I could hear it.  Being under such a huge canopy of trees, I did not get wet.  And the only reason I could hear it -- my music had died during mile 9.  I sang the same song over and over in my head for 3-4 miles.  For the life of me now, I can't remember what it was.

I did not pick it up in the last mile as I normally would but cruised into the finish.  I felt as if I could have gone farther or pushed a little harder.  [Side note: I'm usually gasping and dying at the finish line.  It never fails that a volunteer asks if I'm OK.  Apparently, I usually look like death.  Not this time.]   The announcer was calling out everyone's name as they finished which is always a nice touch.




I knew I wouldn't be listed yet, but I checked the results anyway.  I saw two runners in my age group so far.  Could I have placed?  Surely not with a 2:13+.  I ate a few bites of pizza and a mini muffin from the selection of goodies.  It was blustery and damp so I didn't walk around the grounds but hunkered down inside their circus tent.   Officially, I was 3rd of 17 in my age group and received a large and heavy etched glass mug.


 

So, mission accomplished.  I completed my long run.  I got in a nice tempo run plus more hill work than I could ever, ever want.  I enjoyed the scenery.   And I now have a mug that would hold more margaritas than I should ever drink at one time.  {Wink}


Tell me what you think about super hilly races!

Have you ever drank Coke during a race?

What is your next race?


And that's a wrap!




92 comments:

  1. That does look like a really pretty course. Congrats to you placing on a "training run" that's gotta feel amazing. Woo hoo for 50 degree temps for a race. I have a 10K this weekend

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    1. It's always nice to receive any extra recognition at a race. The older you get, the smaller the field or participants too -- and even more so at a small event.

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  2. Looks beautiful--reminiscent of Door County? Could the hills be even worse at Callaway Gardens? You crushed it, my friend! Of course, I'd expect nothing else. Congrats!

    BTW, I actually tell all my patients to drink Coke when they have the stomach flu. The syrup used to make coke is an anti-nausea medication. So it kind of makes sense to drink it during a race, right? I bet it tasted great.

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    1. Well, I had to check. Callaway has about 100 feet more of elevation gain than DoCo. But yes, very similar in the wooded, unrelenting hills category. Growing up in the south -- we thought Coke was the cure-all. LOL.

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  3. Wow! That's a nice age-group prize!! Especially since you were considering it a training run!

    Hilly races are fun but they always kick my butt. Heck, hilly runs kick my butt! haha

    And, I don't drink Coke. Or any soda, for that matter. Unless I have a massive headache that won't go away and then, I'll drink some Coke Zero with my Excedrine. I don't even like Gatorade during a race. I can't imagine drinking soda! Although, I may have to change my mind/taste buds now that I'm planning on running ultras.....hmmm......

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    1. I don't drink any type of soda on a regular basis. But it hit the spot on my century rides last year so I thought I'd give it a try during a race. I can see where it would be great during an ultra!

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  4. Congrats on your prize!! I dislike hills because it is very flat here where I run. Coke during a race is fabulous! My next race is Shamrock Shuffle on March 25.

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    1. I'm OK with "little" hills but these were not little. I think I'll drink Coke whenever offered from now on.

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  5. Congrats on 3rd place in your AG when you weren't even racing! I love the idea of a mug for a prize. I've won beer pint glasses before and thought they were a nice touch.

    Thanks for the linkup!

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    1. Based on my finish time, I figured there were 3 people in my age group. I was surprised to see more. Unexpected awards are very nice.

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  6. Great job!! You are killing it!

    I love Callaway gardens. We had family living in Georgia and visited there a few times. I'll have to put this on my Georgia race list.

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    1. I grew up very near Callaway. Part of the reason I enjoy it so much is that those woods bring back childhood memories. You'd really enjoy this race!

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  7. What a great AG award. I prefer something usable to a medal.

    I am jealous that there are half marathons this time of year. I have to wait until March when I fly down to Florida.

    Hilly races are tough but more interesting than pancake flat.

    and nope never had a Coke. I like plain H2O.

    Congrats on your training run race. When your next one?

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    1. This is the peak time we have half marathons around here. I'll be jealous of you when they due to our heat. My next half is in two weeks. Mercedes.

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  8. That is nice that the canopy of trees blocked you from the rain. What is cerasport? I have never drank coke at a race. Did they provide that at an aid station? If so, that is odd. Congrats on the AG placement. That is awesome Holly!

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    1. Cerasport is an electrolyte sports drink. It's been served in a few races I've run. I do not like the taste. Coke was at each aid station, probably because they were also having a full marathon. I think it's more common to see it in that distance.

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  9. Congrats on your AG! I like the idea of a glass mug instead of the medal. That course does not look very forgiving!

    I've never tried drinking Coke during a race, but I have heard others mention it. Glad it worked for you!

    Thanks for the link-up :)

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    1. I like the mug too! And no, that course feels just like it looks on the graph. I think I'll be drinking more Coke during races.

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  10. That's a nice reward for a "training run." Excellent job! I have had Coke on a race course, and I actually like it (usually, I'm more of a Pepsi fan). And as for hills, I have probably mentioned before that I can actually walk a steep hill much faster than run it (and probably look a little less awkward in doing so LOL).

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    1. I truly did not expect anything with that finish time. But, I will not complain. I worked hard on most of those hills for it! And, it goes to show -- you just never.

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  11. Great job! Ive never had coke during a race but I bet it would taste pretty good if you needed some carbs/sugar/salt. Those hills are no joke! Congrats on the AG award!

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    1. I learned in my Century Rides that soda is the perfect treat on a hot day. So, I thought I'd try it in a race. I'm glad I did.

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  12. I've done a super hilly 10 mile race twice in my life (in mid/late June); and while the heat and hills were awful, both times have been my best race memories. I hate most sports drinks (as my blog title implies) but love Nuun on a hot humid day. I love the cola flavored Nuun - especially mixed with a cherry/berry flavor but I haven't tried an actual coke in a race before. I wonder if the carbonation would help or give me gas cramps while running?

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    1. I was worried about the carbonation as well. But since it was already poured in cups, it had lost some of the fizz. Also, it helped me burp (I know TMI) which I sometimes have difficulty doing in a race.

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  13. I can't do hills!!! I should practice them more. I've never had Coke during a race, but husband really enjoyed them during his 50 miler in November - he's not much of a soda drinker, so I think it was a novelty. I'm starting my training for a ten miler in April, as a base to start marathon training for Chicago in October!

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    1. I think having a 10 miler (of half) as a goal first is a great way to get into marathon training. Apparently, Coke is big at endurance events.

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  14. Whoa - that is some serious elevation!
    Congrats on another half marathon finish AND another AG award!

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    1. Those hills sure will make you appreciate a flatter course. I would not want to do the marathon there.

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  15. Congrats Holly! That course sounds like a beast. What a nice AG prize. Sounds like you're going to be more than ready for the Mercedes Half!

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    1. Merecedes is hilly too, but not quite as bad. I've never had a "faster" (on my scale of all finish times ever) finish there either. LOL. Hopefully, I can pace that one a little better though.

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  16. Wow that elevation is no joke! Nice age group placement! Margaritas sound like a goo idea ;)

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    1. Yes! And if I'm going to run something that hilly, it better be beautiful. LOL. Margaritas are a good post race treat, especially in summer!

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  17. Well, that was surprise ending! Congrats! I tend to do pretty well on hilly courses. I usually have my fastest time on the hilly Reston course, and I did better than expected on the hilly Runners World Half course. Those don't have so-steep-you-have-to-walk hills though.

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    1. I was very surprised! Some of my best times are on "hillier" course as I like to push on the downhill. These hills are too steep for me. And they just keep coming.

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  18. Great job! I've never had Coke during a race, but soda after a race can taste pretty good.

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    1. I was worried about the fizz, but I think it actually helped me.

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  19. I have tackled many hilly races, but aside from some of the shorter runs, I never go back for more! I don't know if you're brave or a masochist. And that's pretty sweet to place for a "training" run.

    Sorry about the foot cramping. I've had that & it's definitely not at all fun.

    My next half is ID. And it's not til July!

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    1. I only go back to this one for the scenery! There are some hilly ones I vow never to repeat...Gateway to the Smokies was pretty intense. It's typical for my feet to cramp. I can deal as long as it doesn't move into the calf muscle.

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  20. As odd as it sounds, I've always wanted to run a race in the rain. Not in cold rain, mind you, but in nice temperature rain. Living in Florida, oddly enough, have never run a race in the rain. And usually I drink coke after a hard workout or run- I guess I just crave the sweetness and carbonation?

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    1. I've run a few races (and a few training runs) in the rain. It's easier if the rains starts after you being running though. Coke has always been good at settling the stomach. Maybe that works in races too.

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  21. Congrats Holly! As odd as it sounds, I've come to really like hills...even in races. At least I say that WHEN I'm not in the midst of running those dang hills. Lol!

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    1. I don't mind shorter ones either. And, I enjoy the other downhill side immensely. It's just the ones that seem to go on forever that wear me out.

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  22. Congratulations! That's pretty neat to place even after all that "struggle" you had! Good for you!

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    1. The age placement was a complete surprise. I guess there weren't many of us older ladies crazy enough to tackle this course. LOL.

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  23. Wow what a prize!!! Even despite what you went through. Wow! Congrats!

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    1. I like the mug. At least it's a useful item!

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  24. Congrats on placing 3rd after running on such a difficult course! You showed those hills who was boss!

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    1. I actually thought they showed me...LOL. But, I survived and you can't help but enjoy the scenery there.

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  25. We love Callaway! We don't live too far from there so we spend a lot of time there during the spring and fall, and of course, we love Fantasy In Lights!

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    1. I grew up nearby. So, this place just feels like home to me! We used to go to FIL every year. In fact, my brothers worked for FIL many times.

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  26. Congrats on your placing!!! I'm a fan of hills (I really shouldn't say that online, ha!)

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    1. Ha! I say I like hills too (and I do)... but then I run a course with THESE kind of hills.

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  27. That elevation looks painful!! Congrats on placing! I hate hills especially in races. Congrats on another half!

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    1. When it gets so steep I have to walk some, I feel as if I've been defeated and give up. I shouldn't do that -- I need to work on mental game.

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  28. Congrats on a strong race, er, training run!

    I am ok with hilly races - you kinda have to make peace with them once you move to the mountains ;) Some of your photos here remind me trails near my grandparents' in Arkansas.

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    1. I've made peace with small hills - I live in a hilly neighborhood. I need to live in the mountains a while so I can appreciate those kind of hills!

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  29. Wow, that's a lot of elevation! Awesome job coming in 3rd!!

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    1. My time was so "off", I certainly didn't expect an award. That just proves very few ladies my age were crazy enough to tackle those hills. LOL

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  30. Congratulations and thank you for sending the good vibes my way ....they definitely helped!!! Coke during a race is a trail race thing ..they drink it all the time from what I hear.

    I'm sorry that your music died ...the ipod I sent didn't hold it's charge??? Are you back to square one with a search for a new one?

    Btw ...I drank enough margaritas last night to fill that mug up twice!!! And slept like a baby! Lol

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    1. I think that is the fate of most iPods eventually. That's what happened to all of my old ones anyway. I haven't bought one...yet. I'm trying to use my phone. {Heavy Sigh.} I remembered how much we adored our Dr. Pepper on the century ride so I thought, why not try Coke?

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  31. That is a fabulous time on those hills! I am glad you got the AG :) That is a nice glass. I have not had Coke during a race, but I would try for sure. Regular water will make me so nauseous anything with fizz is good for me.
    The area looks really pretty, I would love it.

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    1. I was worried about the fizz causing problems, but I actually think it helped me burp (yes TMI). It hurts when you need to and can't. That is a problem for me sometimes in a race after drinking water or gatorade.

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  32. It looks like a beautiful race, but yikes on those hills! Congrats on the age group finish :)

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    1. The beauty of this course definitely makes up for the hills!

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  33. I LOVE super hilly races, especially now that I've discovered trails (many of which have Coke at them lol). My next race is a hilly half marathon on March 3. Congrats on your strong finish!

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    1. You know, this course is like a mix of trail and road -- if there is such a thing. It's paved, but technical.

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  34. Congratulations on another great race! Congratulations on your AG award too! It looks like a beautiful and challenging course!

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    1. You're family would love visiting Callaway if you haven't. There is a lot of stuff to do, especially in the summer.

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  35. Congratulations and what a great award!! Scenic races are the best, even if the extra hills can make it a little tougher!

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    1. The beautiful course definitely makes up for the hilly terrain!

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  36. I love using races for training runs. It definitely ups the enjoyment factor a bit, although I don't know how I would feel about rain and dying music :(

    Congratulations on your AG place! That's incredible, especially with the challenges you faced that day.

    Coke during a long race can be a lifesaver. I had some during my marathon: a group of spectators was handing it out and it was honestly the best thing ever at that point.

    Hills aren't my favorite. We just don't have them here, so it's pretty hard to train for them and I don't know what to do with them when I encounter them.

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    1. Although I thought I'd run this as training (as opposed to around my neighborhood) I struggled with wanting to race it. I started out too fast and that wore me out quickly with the hills. They serve soft drinks on century rides and that was the best thing I drank during my first event!

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  37. Those are some serious hills, but they look worth it for the scenery. Congrats on the age group award!

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    1. This course is always worth the scenery!

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  38. Congrats on a great half marathon training run! Awesome that you got 2nd in your AG too! Sounds like a great course and what a cool award! :)

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    1. The age placement was a cool surprise! It was my worst finish time at this race. It goes to show -- you never know.

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  39. This had it all - tempo workout, hills workout, long run, race atmosphere and beautiful surroundings, PLUS a 3rd place finish to top it all off! Well done!

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    1. I agree! All of these points are why it remains in the top section of my favorite half marathons list!

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  40. I would vow never to run that race again, haha! Congrats on earning 3rd ;)

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    1. Ha!! And I keep going back for punishment. LOL.

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  41. Mother of PEARL, that race had some hills! Congrats on making it through, and woohoo on your AG award!

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    1. They feel as hard as that graph looks too. But watch me, I'll run it again next year. LOL.

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  42. Wow! That is quite the elevation map. Definitely not kidding about it being a tough course. Scenery always makes courses like that bearable. Congrats on our AG award. That's an awesome etched glass. Enjoy those margaritas. ;)

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    1. If it weren't for the scenery, I probably wouldn't return to this race. It's just so pretty and peaceful.

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  43. Sounds like a great race! I enjoy hills :) I have drank coke on a run - but mostly at longer distance races. Congrats on the sweet mug for 3rd!

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    1. I've placed at this race before and was rewarded with plaques but I like the idea of a mug better. It's functional.

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  44. Yay! Congrats on 3rd in AG! Cool mug too! Those Georgia hills are no joke. Hills are ok, a great challenge. :)

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    1. Oh, that's right. You recently ran a few of these yourself. The town is called Pine Mountain for a reason as well. LOL.

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  45. I have great childhood memories of visiting Calloway Gardens as a child on vacation (I grew up in Miami, so we did a few road trips up there.) I would love to come back for the race for one. Congrats on your AG award!!

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    1. Oh, that's so cool! I grew up nearby and great memories of going to Callaway. It's a beautiful place to have a race.

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  46. Ha! Congratulations on completing such a crazy hilly race AND on the AG 3rd too! This place looks absolutely beautiful... now the hills... I have mixed feelings on those. 😂 Hills are good for the soul! That’s what I’ll say.

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    1. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger...or some other saying about perseverance. LOL.

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