Run the Reagan half marathon 2012

Categories: Race Report   Running

The Run the Reagan race in Snellville, GA, has been on my to-do list for a few years, ever since I first heard about it. It’s an out and back course on the Ronald Reagan parkway, and is normally limited access. This year, I finally made it.

The adventure began two days before the race, when I got the pre-race mail, and I read the part about the course going the entire length of the road, from Scenic Highway to Pleasant Hill and back. Now, I don’t know about you, but I hate driving that stretch, because it seems to go on forever. It’s a long drive, and now I was preparing to run it. And run back. What was I thinking? Race morning arrived, and the weather was perfect, in the high 40’s and no rain. It would get warmer by the time we were running, but then cooled down as clouds started moving in. One nice thing about this race is that it starts at the reasonable hour of 9 AM. Thinking it would be crazy, I showed up at 8, and wandered around for a while. (Note to self: next year, 8:30 will be fine.) I ran into Beth P, whom I haven’t seen in a couple years. She’s a cross country coach at one of the high schools, and was out with some of her team. Happily, she told me the course is great and she PR’s every time on it.

As we lined up at the starting line, I was thinking about a PR. I thought a sub-2 would be great, but in the back of my mind, based on the training I’ve been doing, a 2:05 seemed like the best case scenario. I was hoping to pace with Beth M, but we didn’t see into each other. It was a good thing too, since she ended up flying through the course in 1:38. I felt good as the gun went off.

Going out to Pleasant Hill was a blast. It’s more downhill than up from on this half, which probably helped. For the first 5 miles, I was putting a lot of thought into my form. I was leaning forward, had a good foot strike, and relaxed throughout, and it showed. The miles flew by, and I hit the turnaround in 55 minutes. Whew!

I saw the leaders heading back when I was around mile 5. The lead man was flying, and there was no one else even in sight. I think it was 3 or 4 minutes before the next person came though, and then another few before more came. The lead woman was looking great when I saw her, like she was just floating along with little effort.

Going back, I started to bonk about mile 8.5. It wasn’t severe, but the nerve issues I have in my legs started acting up. As I run, the muscles get inflamed, and pinch my sciatic nerve, causing it to feel like my leg is falling asleep. When that happens, about the only thing I can do is try to walk it off for a bit, or stop and shake my leg a bit to try to loosen it up. It’s a problem I’ve had for years, and spending a lot of time stretching and on the foam roller helps, which I’ve been slacking on lately. While running, my plan for dealing with this lately has been to walk for 15 or 30 breathes, then running a bit, and repeating as necessary. It usually helps, and that’s what I did.

As I was taking one of my walk breaks, someone came up behind me to encourage me to get going. Not wanting to be rude, I started running with him again, and we chatted to a half mile or so. Nice guy, who came down from Dahlonega for this as a training run for Georgia Marathon in a month. He was trying for 8:45 miles for this race, and was ahead of schedule. I must have miscalculated, because that put me way ahead of pace!

At 9 miles, the clock was at 1:26, and I was thinking 4 miles, 44 minutes for a sub 2. I can do it!

After a few more walk breaks, and a few sports beans, I was almost feeling good again when we hit the first of two big hills. I remembered flying down them on the way out, and thinking Awesome! This is gonna suck coming back. And yes, they did. They caused my legs to give out a bit more, and the 11 minute miles I wanted seemed so suddenly seem hard. About mile 11, everything started coming back together. Legs were still hurting, but not horrible. Aerobically, I felt fine. So back to running it was. Mile 12 came, and I knew I had it. Just around the corner to go.

The corner came. The start line was in site, which meant the finish line was right there. We started running faster. The guy I was next too took off. I tried to keep up. We ran. My shoe came untied, but I didn’t care. We got to the start line, and wait! Where’s the finish line? We had to keep going another couple hundred feet. Dang! The moved the start line for the 5K…we kept sprinting!

Finished! 1:59:04. Just over a 13 minute PR for me.

It was awesome. I can’t wait to do it again.

There was almost a whole fair going on afterwards, so I checked everything out. Now I know a Del Taco just opened…haven’t been there in years. I then went to wait for Dianna and her mother to finish the 5K. I saw my friend Robb, and his friends Jon and Matt. I saw Helen out while I was running, but not after it was over.

The shout out this race goes to all the people who were 2 miles or so behind me in the half. Yeah, that sounds kinda lame, but I was thinking about y’all as I was running the other way. Not long ago, I was an omplete back of the packer, and I know what it’s like back there. You see the people on the other side, and think “dang, they are way up there. How will I get that far?” You will, and you did. Way to go.

Written on February 19, 2012