Race recap: This was our third half in three weeks and rounded out our Tour De South (Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia in the first two months of 2013). When we pick a race we don’t necessarily shy away from hills but we also by no means seek out races that bill themselves as having “the hardest hills you will ever run” either. That said, we knew Augusta would offer some challenging hills but we were mentally ready to cross Georgia off our to-do list. Within the first 1.5 miles we could tell it wouldn’t be a fast day as the humidity in the air made it a little tough to breathe and we were still in the “flat” section of the course. Just before mile 3 I told Kristin that my hip was starting to ache – what I was hoping was not a pre-cursor to the full on red hot poker pain I had been feeling off and on since running Alabama the prior week. At mile 4 we began a 1.5 mile, 300ft elevation climb, which tested us both mentally and physically. The first ½ mile was at 5%+ grade (pretty freaking steep) with the remaining mile closer to a 3%+ grade. With fresh legs this would have been a pretty tough climb, but with sore legs and being mentally fatigued from three straights weeks of travel we fought some demons to conquer this mini mountain. The ensuing downhill we earned was a bit tainted as I had to ask Kristin to slow down more than once as my hip would start to burn on too fast of a descent. All too quickly we had arrived at mini mountain #2. Thankfully this climb was only about a mile long and not much more than a 3% grade and Augusta National, home of the Master’s golf tournament, was on our right side as we ascended, which helped to distract us from the incline. By mile 9 we were both feeling pretty gassed but our racing experience gave us the confidence to keep on truckin’. The next few miles were around Lake Olmstead, which was somewhat scenic, but in all fairness it was a bit of a blur as we were just pushing to find the finish line. After some inspiring Justin Bieber tunes on the course we headed down Broad Street (main drag in downtown Augusta) to the finish. As we staggered around the finish line area, we were stoked to finish this tough course in under 1:50.
Highlight: I guess surviving the mini mountains of Augusta was a feat in and of itself, but it was awesome to have Kevin O’Donnell join us for a quick weekend trip to Georgia – and congrats to Kevin for beating your race goal by over 5 minutes! The three of us sitting and enjoying hot post-race waffles in the sun was pretty great too.
Tip: Hmmmm…maybe do some hill repeats more than a week before you race here…
Day 1 (Saturday):
Even though Kristin and Kevin’s Horoscope (both Cancer) said to “expect delays while traveling and avoid new places” we decided to board the plane anyways and head out for a weekend adventure in Georgia. After snagging a prime parking spot we met with Kathy, a friend from high school who now lives in Atlanta, and enjoyed a beer as we waited for our table at Murphy’s. Kathy recommended the Eggs Slum Mulligan (poached eggs, potato hash, bacon and cheddar cheese) and Kevin and I both took her advice. Wow – they really know how to do brunch in the South – Yum! It was really great to catch up with Kathy and enjoy a relaxing and tasty brunch.
After saying our good-byes to Kathy we headed off visit the Jimmy Carter Library. Although the library is just outside of Atlanta, the setting is very peaceful and was built to mimic the retreat-esque feel of Camp David. We didn’t know too much about Jimmy Carter before arriving at the library, and learned quite a bit about his work on civil rights and energy independence. Definitely an interesting trip, but the best exhibit was the interactive table that has you complete humanitarian missions across the globe, from eradicating Guinea worm disease in Ghana to monitoring elections in Indonesia. Excellent exhibit.
We were hoping to sneak off to Sweet Water Brewery for a quick sampling of some local brew, but unfortunately we were running a bit late and the hours for the brewery are terrible (2:30-4:30pm Saturday and closed Sunday) so we hit the road for Augusta instead.
We stopped in to the French Market Grille for our pre-race Louisiana inspired meal. After a long drive we were finally able to sample the extra pale ale from Sweet Water and it really hit the spot. Very smooth and easy drinking. Kevin took the traditional path of pasta with chicken, which looked quite good, while Kristin and I tested the waters (literally) with the broiled fish of the day. My fish was decent, but Kristin’s wasn’t “as good as expected.” All in all, the ambience, conversation and beer were good but the food was just about par for the course.
Day 2 (Sunday - Race Day):
Kevin had been to Augusta the previous year for a half Ironman (he shattered his personal best time on the course) and post-race took us down to the Riverwalk area and described how the course was setup. As we looked out into the river and saw mammoth sized tree limbs being dragged through murky brown water, Kristin and I both applauded Kevin for even setting a toe in that water! Kevin swears the water was trolled for tree limbs, but I’d rather take my chances in a lake any day :)
Post-race we each grabbed a hot waffle from the finish line area and devoured it as we stretched in the sun, but after a quick shower and tour of the Riverwalk we were starving for a full meal. The Sunrise Grill was packed with locals, so we knew we had found a good spot. The breakfast was fresh and fast. Nothing to wild and crazy, just some biscuits with spicy sausage gravy and grits for me and eggs and ham for Kristin and Kevin. The sugar-cured ham was salty, but just what the doctor ordered after a tough run.
Georgia Half Marathon Medals:
February 24, 2013: Augusta Half Marathon