My Races

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Tear Drop Half Marathon
Chatsworth, GA
April 28, 2018
Half Marathon # 56 


I ran this half marathon in 2016 and knew it had a continual steeply graded downhill section on the back side.  I'm training for a downhill marathon and haven't found long downhills to practice on. Even though I knew the first 5 miles were harder than hard, I adored this scenic course and thought it was worth the travel effort to practice not braking while running down a mountain. The course drops 2100 feet in only 7 miles.   Yikes.

Being in the middle of marathon training, I couldn't afford a traditional taper.  But after last weekend's challenging 17 miler, I shortened my Tuesday race pace run to 6 miles and struggled with my cranky hip through a short easy-paced 4 mile run on Thursday.   None of that mattered as I was simply going to use this race for downhill speed work.  After a long, nerve wracking traffic-jammed commute and sleepless night -- it was go time.

I caught one of the first shuttle buses for this point to point race and thus had plenty of time to enjoy the sunrise atop Fort Mountain.  The race started 10 minutes late as we waited on the last bus to arrive. My Garmin recorded 43 degrees and no wind.  Perfect race conditions.  The first 5 miles circling the top of the mountain were just as tough as I remembered with places so steeply uphill, I walked...four times.    Mile 6 was the transition to downhill running.  My  pace through 6 averaged 9:39. 

My one goal was to keep my pace below 9:00 when the downhill started.  I found Believer by Imagine Dragons on my iShuffle and let the training commence down that spectacular curvy ribbon of pavement through Fort Mountain State Park.  The shaded canopy of spring green trees was beautiful as were the occasional overlooks down to the valley below.  My paces for miles 7 to 12: 8:19, 8:25, 8:18, 8:33, 8:17, 8:17.  Average = 8:22.   

An overlook in Fort Mountain State Park (not my picture)

As a nod to the downhill section, I also repeated these favorite running tunes: Don't Bring me Down (ELO)  Get Down Tonight (KC & the Sunshine Band) and Way on Down (Elvis).  And just for kicks the ever amusing and motivational -- I simply refuse to be old -- I Don't Need my Rocking Chair (George Jones).  

I realized around mile 10, that I should be under 2:05 and even closer to 2:00 if I could keep the last uphill mile from chewing me up.  I was definitely pacing faster than I did in 2016.    But the race had been marking long, so I didn't put much stock in my thought.  I reminded myself to keep running the mile I was in.

Just before mile 12, we popped out of the shady state park.  Sadly, the downhill was over.  In fact, there are two long uphills to navigate before reaching the finish.  The sun was bright and I was hot.  I walked twice on those hills back into town recording a 9:31 for mile 13.  When I made the final turn, I could see the chute blocks away.  I still had a 1:57 on my watch.  I can do this!  With a tiny bit left in the tank and cramping feet, I pushed with an 8:05 for the final leg. When I got close enough, my old lady eyes saw 1:58 on the clock.   OMG!  I just set a new PR, replacing one from 2014.  How did that happen?  At my age?  I shed a few big ol' tear drops.   My official time = 1:58:51. 

A nice change to this race was the finish location and after party in lovely Chatsworth City Park instead of a random parking lot back in 2016.  There was live music as well as delicious BBQ and beer on tap among the usual post race fare.  The sun was shining and I enjoyed soaking it up a while before heading home. 

I've had a lot of thoughts floating in my head while processing this race.  After struggling through two fractured-feet-comebacks since 2015, I didn't think a PR was possible.  After all, I've been aging  Since I love racing, it truly didn't matter what the time showed on the clock.   It still doesn't.  I will continue to run and race because I enjoy it.  After injuries, I will always appreciate the ability to run first and foremost.

But I will felt damn good to have the effort I put into this crazy sport validated.

And that's a wrap!

Downhill courses.  Love them or hate them?

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  1. Got to be one of the best bling walls I've ever seen :)

  2. Very nice - that's a lot of races in just a few year!

    1. What can I say? Other than I'm *slightly* obsessive. LOL.

  3. You should sign up for this:


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