I trained for my first half marathon with a Galloway group and fell in love with Jeff back then in ’99. I was delighted to run the Inaugural Jeff Galloway JG 13.1 Half Marathon in Atlanta last month thanks to the support of ENELL! As an ambassador of these amazing sports bras, my race entry fee was covered by ENELL, an incredible company with a great product for “women like me” – well endowed ladies. If you need support with no chafing, check them out. Its fitting I was running as an Enell Ambassador as this race truly showed me the importance of support when running, but not only the support of my girls.
JG 13.1 Half Marathon was my last race before my first Marathon in January at Walt Disney World and my goal was to take it easy IE super slow and finish feeling strong. I was scheduled to do 16 miles that day for training so I decided I would add on a few miles before after the race.
I went to the expo on Friday when it opened which was great as I got to spend time talking to running greats Bill Rodgers and Jeff Galloway since it was not crowded AT ALL. Rodgers, a 4 time winner of the Boston Marathon AND New York Marathon, could not have been more gracious in taking time to talk to me about my upcoming marathon. Turns out whether elite or turtle, runners pretty much face the same issues and worries. Rodgers told me most runners quit at some point in their running career and come back to it. I started my running with a boyfriend, we broke up and I quit running after 2 half marathons because I felt slow. I am so glad I took it up again years later. Rodgers also told me “A Marathon is a Different Kind of Race, Its a Quest Really”. I had been having so many doubts about myself it was wonderful to hear someone talk to me about their struggles, especially Boston Billy!
I had to talk to the man himself Jeff Galloway who again, talked to me like an old friend. I thanked him as I always do for his run/walk program which got me running and had me talking a Marathon at 50. Jeff took the time to ask about my training and intervals. He gave me some tips on my upcoming long training runs AND he suggested I dial back my intervals for the full from 30 sec run walk to 15 sec run or even 10 second run with 45 or 30 second walk – he told me I would be less tired at the end this way. WOW Personal Coaching from the man himself!
The expo itself was large enough I could breeze through quickly to pickup what I needed: anti chaffing items, a Gymboss Timer and Honey Stingers, and get home in time for pickup of my daughter from school. I took Marta, it was steps from the station and I didn’t risk getting stuck in traffic downtown if I dawdled at the expo, which I tend to do. Even if you drove, it appeared to be easy in and easy out.
A cool thing about this race was the fact they had pacing groups – FOR ALL PACES. When you signed up for a group at the expo, you could see the interval this group was doing which didn’t mean you had to do THAT interval, I thought it was nice to set the expectations up front.
Estimated Finish Time(intervals pace groups were running)
- 1:30 (1mile/30seconds run/walk ratio)
- 1:45 (4minute/35sec)
- 2:00 (4min/1min)
- 2:10 (3min/1min)
- 2:30 (2min/1min)
- 2:45 (1min/1min)
- 3:00 (30 seconds/30 seconds)
- 3:30 (15 sec/30 sec)
- 4:00 (10 sec/30 sec)
- 4:30 (must be at 11 miles by Noon or 4:00) (10 sec/40 sec)
I learned at the expo that race photos would also be available for download after the race, FOR FREE! Now there is a nice perk!
AND if you couldn’t make the race in person, there was a virtual option to earn the gorgeous bling showcasing the Atlanta Skyline.
I had planned on running with my friend Julia. She is slower than I am, not by much though, and I thought it would help me to stay at my slower Marathon target pace of 15-16 minute miles. I knew the race would be more fun if I had someone to hang with too and it worked out well. Julia had been sick so I told her I would help get her to the finish and make sure she wasn’t over doing it. Her husband Steve came down to spectate and he was our own little personal cheerleader.
I arrived at the Midtown Marta Station, and saw the start just a block from exiting the station. There were bathrooms a plenty between the station and the start. It was cold, low 30’s and the water for runners at the start had ice in it from the temperatures. There were 3 start waves, I was in B, but hung back with Julia in C – where the party people are at. I was layered up in Crazy Compression Socks, Capris, Sparkle Skirt, Short Sleeve Shirt over Long Sleeve Shirt and a jacket. I had a fleece hat and gloves as well. It was chilly and windy. I took my gloves off at some point, that was it…and they went back on later.
We started the race and ran towards the Carter Center area from Midtown – passing by the Krispy Kreme from my Georgia Tech days and Mary Mac’s Tearoom, home of fine southern cooking. It was cold but clear out, really gorgeous. The sky was about as blue as it gets and made a great back drop for the race and scenes along the way. This was not a huge race, maybe a couple thousand runners, and we had a lane of the road which was plenty. Once we started everyone dispersed pretty well and I was never crowded.
The course was a combination of roads and neighborhoods and the new Atlanta Beltline, ” a combination of rail, trail, greenspace, housing and art that will ultimately connect 45 intown neighborhoods”. I enjoyed the course, it was typical Atlanta Rolling Hills, though not near as hilly as the Publix Georgia Half. The artwork on the beltline was a nice little treat for the eyes.
For those familiar with Atlanta, basically the course was Midtown Marta to Jimmy Carter Center then on the beltline to Virginia Highlands and Piedmont Park. While I didn’t like the hill going up towards the Botanical Garden near the end, once we reached the top it was all downhill to Monroe then pretty much flat back into Piedmont Park via the beltline – a cool area with a dog park and some trails . The last mile I think we wound our way around in the park. I loved finishing in the park and after finishing everyone who wanted could get a photo with Jeff Galloway sporting your medal.
We were towards the end and back and there was plenty of race nutrition at the end – race box, bananas, water, etc. They also had Mylar blankets, and it was chilly so nice touch. Plenty of water stops too with Accelerade or Water enough for all.
The Race Impact:
I mentioned this race was about support earlier. Yes, ENELL is a great supporting bra, no issues and thanks again for sponsoring me to run this beautiful course. As usually happens with a half marathon, something really impacted me and that was the support of others.
- Our cheerleaders were the best. Julia’s husband Steve showed up at various spots on the course to check on her. Its wonderful to see a couple that are so supportive of each other. He is a fun guy too. It was really cold out so not many of spectators and its always nice to see a familiar face cheering you on. We also kept seeing a volunteer at various points on the course, super sweet guy so chill in his, “All right ladies, y’all got this, looking good”.
- The volunteers were fabulous. So encouraging, including Atlanta’s finest officers all had smiles for us – I tried to remember to thank them all. BRRRR for them being out hydrating us and keeping us safe from the cars in the other lanes.
- The Pace group leaders were so friendly. They were welcoming, funny and supportive to us as we dropped in and out. And I have to say, I was digging the 15 sec run interval! I learned something that day, listen to Jeff Galloway, he knows his stuff and you can always play around with your intervals.
- I want to brag a little on Julia. She was amazing, coming off the flu she hung in there GREAT for 10 miles. We experimented with several intervals, started with 30 /30 and if a pace group would catch us, we would hang with them – did the 15 sec run thing, 10 seconds, it was fun trying them out. Her hip started to bother her around mile 10….that big uphill at the botanical garden part and I told her we would go at HER pace since she really wanted to finish. Her endurance amid the adversity of the cold, her chest and the hip pain was amazing. Oh and she is super fun to hang out with on the course too. The world just needs more Julias. Running this race with her was a gift to me. I thought man if SHE can do this, I can endure the Marathon. I feel like I was initially there to support HER, but turns out, she was there to support me and help turn my self doubt around about finishing that upcoming marathon.
- The announcers announced our names as we approached the finish arm in arm – I was tearing up at how proud I was of my friend. We really enjoyed those first 10 miles and the last 3.1 I have never been so proud of someone for sticking it out. As we approached Jeff for our photo, I heard the announcer mention one finisher had survived a heart attack and started running for his health. That is the thing I love about Galloway and his program and groups, they are accepting and encouraging to so many to get out there and run at their own pace.
I enjoyed the race so much, I have signed up for next year. For an inaugural event, it went perfectly from this runner’s perspective. My ONLY complaint, yeah I got one, not a fan of the Accelerade they had on the course with water. I tried it, not smart during a race and it didn’t go down right. I had taken my own Cocogo with me though, so was good there!
I finished the race and walked through the park to the Marta station, which was about 1.5 miles. It was a nice walk and good recovery. I got my extra training miles in both before the race and after too waiting for the train, walking laps at the Marta platform waiting on the trains both before and after, I was just shy of my extra 3 miles, but close enough.
Its funny how each race unfolds something different.
Thanks Julia for the fun and inspiration.
Thanks to the Galloway Team for putting on such a great race – From the Expo to the Finish, it was perfect. If you want to sign up for next year’s race or virtual race, go here. See you there?
Finally, thanks to ENELL for sponsoring my race and providing me support as I just try to get healthy! As Disclosure, while ENELL paid my race entry fee, I CHOSE this race because of my love for Atlanta and gratitude for Jeff Galloway who got me running so many years ago. Please know, all opinions are my own based on my race experience.
I think we all learn something about ourselves with each race, what did you learn at your last race?
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