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ING Georgia Weekend: One GOTR Runner’s Story

March 21, 2010

This is me before the ING Half this morning.

Hi. I’m Nadine, otherwise known as one of the regular Why We Run bloggers. I’d like to share with you my experience as a Girls on the Run SoleMate training for and completing the 2010 ING Georgia Half-Marathon.

It really all started after the 2009 ING Half-Marathon when I crossed the finish line at 2:02:30. I realized at that moment that I could have broken 2 hours if I hadn’t tanked during the last brutal 3 miles of the race. I set an informal goal then and there to complete the 2010 half in under 2 hours.

As we all know, the best way to stick to your guns and reach your goals is to make them public. That’s why, when I signed up as a GOTR SoleMate to raise money for GOTR Atlanta while training for the 2010 ING, I titled my fundraising page “Under 2 in 2010 for $20.” Now everyone I reached out for support to knew what I was attempting to do.

Official training started in mid-January, although I was already starting from a higher level of fitness due to consistent strength training and regular 3-6 mile runs. My training plan included 3 runs at or above the half-marathon distance (13.1 miles) so that I would enter into race day with the knowledge and confidence that I could achieve my goal.

Well, a few things got in the way. Between an intensive new job, wedding planning, and tennis (my primary sport), I barely squeezed in my weekly runs. After a great 14-miler about a month ago, my nagging yet manageable leg pain reared its ugly head and I haven’t run more than 6 miles for about 3 full weeks. Needless to say, I didn’t think it would be possible to finish the race in under 2 hours.

A few things happened over the past week. The first was that I attended GOTR Atlanta’s 10th Anniversary celebration and heard GOTR Founder Molly Barker speak. She reminded me of why I was training for this race – not just to meet my own personal goal but also to raise money that would allow more girls to experience GOTR. The second thing that happened was that I and my fiance volunteered at the GOTR booth at the ING Expo on Saturday. I spent more than 2 hours there talking about GOTR to anyone and everyone who would listen. I hope I inspired some people, but I know that I inspired myself. I’ve been working with GOTR for so many years that sometimes I need a renewed burst of inspiration to remind me of why I work so hard for and am so passionate about what this organization does.

Here I am with fellow board member Kelly manning the GOTR booth at the Expo.

If you haven't been to a race expo, I recommend it! There are so many cool things to do and see - check out my fiance trying these "compression" legs. They are meant to push fluids up your legs and into you circulatory system - to flush out the acids after a long run. It felt pretty great!

The third thing that happened was, despite not having run at all in a week other than a few brief  intervals on the treadmill, I gave myself the best shot at success that I could by eating right, hydrating, and getting adequate rest during the days leading up to the race. This morning came, and I was as ready as I was going to be.

Sadly, it doesn’t appear possible for the ING Georgia to fall on a warm sunny spring day. The forecast called for rain and cold. But luck was on our side as the temperature read in the 50’s at the start and the rain had not yet arrived. I ran in shorts and a t-shirt – I felt light as air after a harsh winter for Georgia. My fiance Michael gave me several tips on how to start strong, including being aggressive at the outset to get past the stragglers, and speeding up on the downhills to neutralize a slower pace on the Atlanta hills. We ran like the wind for pretty much the first 6 miles – I didn’t hit an energy lull into the race split – the half marathoners turned left and the full marathoners stayed straight.

I got my breathing back in line and continued steady all the way through Piedmont Park. It’s after Piedmont Park that I always hit my wall – there’s a small but steady hill coming out of the park, followed by a doozy hill going up Juniper – and of course, the hills of Georgia Tech. This year I was determined not to let these hills get me down. I pushed hard and destroyed them! The problem was, I left nothing in the gas tank for the last 0.75 miles of the race – which is also a small but steady hill. Michael was a bit in front of me, urging me on…I knew if I could just keep up a steady pace I would reach my goal…but I had nothing left. I started to slow down, and once I started slowing, I couldn’t stop. I was almost walking at 0.3 miles to go. You’d think I could pull it together for a measely 0.3 miles after running 12.8. Well, I did. I picked it back up and sprinted across the finish line for a completion time of 1:55!!!!! Not only had I achieved my goal, I had achieved it with 5 minutes to spare – and shaved off 7.5 minutes from my last year’s time!

It took several minutes to relish in my glory as I was about to faint. But after fueling up on the goodies the ING offers to race finishers, we headed up to the GOTR tent to meet with friends and fellow GOTR SoleMates. It appeared that everyone had had an amazing run!

Me with my finishers medal!

Michael and me at the GOTR tent after the race.

What a day! I have to say that yesterday this time I wasn’t sure if I would train for another race. It had been a while since I had gotten that “feeling” that you sometimes get while running – that feeling Molly Barker talks about when you feel free, alive, and comfortable in your own skin. Well I certaintly felt that today, and I have Molly and GOTR to thank for keeping me inspired and focused on what’s truly important in life!

Even my dog Webster wanted a piece of the excitement! This is him wearing my medal!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephanie G permalink
    March 22, 2010 8:58 am

    Way to Go Nadine!!!!!! Congratulations on reaching your goal.

  2. March 22, 2010 9:28 am

    This was a pleasure to read. Congratulations, Nadine! Thank you for everything you are doing for Girls on the Run!
    Liz Kunz
    President
    Girls on the Run International

  3. Kristi permalink
    March 22, 2010 10:48 am

    Congratulations Nadine!!

  4. Michael Doyle permalink
    March 22, 2010 11:18 am

    Congratulations Nadine!!!! Way to set your goals high and work hard to achieve them!!!

  5. Cathleen permalink
    March 22, 2010 6:13 pm

    What a fun post to read, and an awesome day! I was in the marathon, and it got lonely out there after we parted ways with the 13.1 contingent at mile 7. Love your pictures!

    • March 22, 2010 6:42 pm

      Thanks so much! Wow, I have much respect for you, I can’t imagine doubling that run! Congrats!

  6. Stacey Chapman permalink
    March 31, 2010 11:41 am

    I’m so proud of you! I knew you could do it. You truly are a SOLEmate! I’m sure you had to dig deep….atta girl!

  7. March 31, 2010 11:52 am

    Hi Nadine,
    I love the picture of Webster :)…Congratulations on the accomplishment. I am a SoleMates GOTR Coach based in NYC. I ran in the D.C. Suntrust Half the day before & we finished right around the same time. Sending positive vibes… Nice work!
    Best,
    Ann

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