The Casual Runner

Jeff Galloway Half Marathon (Review)

Event: 2014 Inaugural Jeff Galloway 13.1

Event Date: December 14, 2014

Event Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Why I decided to run this race.

As I noted in my review of Barb’s 5k, how could I pass up a chance to see some of my best friends in the world, run a race, and finally meet my coach/idol – Jeff Galloway?  Clearly I had to be at Jeff’s inaugural race weekend!

Getting there/the lead-up to the race

After hitting the expo on Friday, my friend and I hit the Atlanta tourist stops while our hostess finished up some work and we waited for our last friend to arrive.  Oh?  You mean I should have been off my feet and resting before my first ever back-to-back race weekend?  I guess I missed that memo…

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I have no idea why I decided planets were appropriate for this race. There was a meteor shower that weekend…that counts as being related, right?

After finishing the 5k Saturday morning, I met up with my friends, grabbed some brunch, showered, and then we went out for some more sightseeing.  Since two of us would be running the half marathon on Sunday, we agreed to keep the walking and standing somewhat limited.  We also made reservations for an early dinner so we could get home and to bed at a reasonable hour.

The race Expo

Please see my review of Barb’s 5k where I talked all about my experience at the race expo.

Swag review

The swag for the half was almost the same as the swag for the 5k, but the shirt had a different logo.  I like the shirt for the half better than the one for the 5K.  Overall, it was pretty good stuff for an inaugural race weekend.

The gear

Having learned my lesson after the 5k, I adjusted my capri/skirt combo.  I wore a different style of capri that added a bit more bulk around the waistline but that I knew would not slide down my butt, and put a safety pin in each leg of the skirt’s built-in shorts so they wouldn’t ride up over the capris.  This solved both the problems I’d experienced the day before.  I also decided to wear a few more cold-weather accessories since the morning of the half was expected to be as cold as the morning of the 5k.

I settled on a new planet-print Sparkle Skirt with built-in shorts over my standard Under Armour capris, a teal mid-weight Reebok long-sleeve shirt over a navy blue Nike tank top and blue Adidas sports bra, grey Under Armour hat, purple Ascent buff around my neck, cheap and disposable knit gloves, Injinji socks, Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14 shoes, Garmin Forerunner 620 and Gymboss interval timer, and Camelbak Marathon hydration vest.

I ditched the gloves around mile 4 and the hat around mile 6.  Once I removed my hat, I repurposed the buff from a neck-warmer to a headband/ear-warmer.  Overall I was pretty comfortable for most of the race, both temperature-wise and in terms of gear comfort.

The pre-race

My friend and I walked from our hostess’s house to the race start approximately .5 miles away.  It was a good warm-up to the run and helped us stay warm in the cold temps.  We got in line for the port-a-potty, which took about 20 minutes to get through, then got in our corral.  There were three corrals and we were in the second.  My friend is a much faster runner then me, but this was her first half marathon since recovering from a bad injury almost 2 years ago so she was planning to run fairly conservatively.

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Spinning pinwheels on the Beltline trail.

A few minutes after we got in our corral we sang the National Anthem and the first runners were off!  Our corral was released 2 minutes later, at which time I wished my friend good luck and we settled into our own paces.

Along the course

My coach’s thoughts on the course: “I mean, there are hills, but nothing compared to other Atlanta races.  There’s only really one hill of note at about mile 10 but it’s only about 400 feet long.  It’s nothing you can’t do!”

My thoughts: “This hill at mile .2 seems noteworthy.  As does this one at mile .5, and the one at mile 1…”

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Me and Jeff at the finish line. Such a different place than I was 6 months earlier when I started e-coaching with him.

I actually really liked this course.  It was some work but the hills really were doable and we got to see some great sights like the Carter Center, Atlanta’s new Beltline trail, and Piedmont Park.  It was fun to run by neighborhoods that we’d been sightseeing in earlier in the week.  There was one turn where it would have been easy to accidentally skip part of the race, but the volunteers were great about keeping us all on track.  Even the out-and-back sections, which I’m not usually a fan of, were technically on different paths so they felt a little different.  Plus I passed my friend when I was on the “out” portion and she was on the “back” section; she was making better time than she had expected and was ahead of the pace group she started with!

Looking at the altitude recorded on my Garmin after the race, Jeff was actually right about the hilliness of the course.  Although there seemed to be a lot of hills, they were gentle rather than major peaks and valleys.  I ended up doing much better than I expected…still about 10 minutes slower than my PR but I’m seeing steady improvement even when the conditions are less than ideal.  Normally hills would have put me farther away, but my training is definitely paying off.

A nice feature of this race was that it was fairly intimate—under 2000 runners and many of them doing walk/run intervals.  We had a 4:30 course limit which made it very walker-friendly, and probably gave some people their first chance to finish a race since many races close after 3:30.

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Keeping the SMO nice and warm.

The SMOpinion

This is a great medal.  It’s a nice, heavy SMO with an olive wreath around the Atlanta skyline.  And the ribbon is beautiful… blues and greens with the location and date.  It’s even better that it was for my coach’s race and I got a picture with him at the end.

The post-race experience

My friend finished about 30 minutes ahead of me but she waited for me at the end.  We took some pictures and then walked to a nearby restaurant where the rest of the group was having brunch.  We got some looks from the other patrons…but we were both so hungry it didn’t matter.

Playlist Peak

My iPod was obsessed with Eminem on this race!  I must have heard at least 10 of his songs during this race…pretty slim odds given there are over 500 songs on the playlist and it was on shuffle.  I was pleased that “St. Elmo’s Fire” came on during the race; a song from a movie set at my alma mater during a weekend getaway with the friends I met there…perfect!

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A beautiful day with a great friend.

Looking back now

I had a great time at this race and I would do it again:  It was a treat to finally meet Jeff and it was fun course; I got to be there for my friend’s return to half marathons; Atlanta was fun to run through; and I got to work on my dislike for hills.  I expect this race will grow in popularity, especially as people realize how fun and relatively flat the course is for an Atlanta race.  Legacy runners will get special recognition in future years, so I’m glad I got in on the first one.

How did Jennifer get to this race weekend? Through a lot of hard work. Don’t forget to check out Jennifer’s ongoing series of her experiences e-training under the guidance of Jeff Galloway:

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