I haven’t run a race in a while and this time I tried a different strategy.
Standing at the starting line of the Georgia Regents University Augusta Marathon and 10K last Sunday, I wondered what effect my haphazard training and the additional 10 to 15 pounds gained would have.
Thanks to the flexible race organizers from the Augusta Sports Council, it actually went OK as I was able to switch from running the half-marathon to the 10K the week of the race. Had they refused my request, I probably would have picked up my packet of stuff at the race expo Saturday and then slept in.
Whoever designed the course also gets a big dose of thanks, as the 10K was flat and fast. The half-marathoners going off 15 minutes before the rest of us helped thin the herd of people trying to find their pace and positioning. The first turn that took us onto Broad Street was helpful before we got shepherded into a single lane.
There was an incline near Enterprise Mill early in the run, but the first real and only hill came on Walton Way right at mile three. I took it as a bad omen that the last store before the hill was called Caskets and More.
I had every intention of running the half-marathon, but I didn’t begin soon enough to allow for setbacks, which hit me hard. Starting late, I still felt good enough about things as I got in back-to-back four-milers right after Thanksgiving in Mississippi.
What I thought was just tiredness from driving back from Mississippi was the progression of a cold, cough and then bronchitis, which basically shut me down for the month of December.
In previous training I’ve been able to bounce back quickly from one running session to the next, but the going was slower when I restarted in January. I’m thinking age – and probably the daily bag of Peanut M&Ms – didn’t help. Two weeks out it became clear that vital organs might shut down if I attempted the half.
While the weather was nasty leading up to the event, the morning of the race was perfect for running. I was as nervous as I’ve ever been for a run, but my stress level was somewhat reduced as there was ample parking close to the start.
There are plenty of hills in my neighborhood, but none approaching the combination of incline and length of the Walton Way hill. That turned into a walk/jog portion of the race. At the top we made a right onto Milledge Road and the downhill was glorious. Making the jump back to Broad Street for the final two miles was just as good for a final flat push.
Besides just finishing, my other goal was recognized as I finished about 30 seconds ahead of the half-marathon first-place finisher.
It might be time to start building up to next year’s event. The M&Ms can go later.