One year in to running and I can say I have met the biggest achievement that I initially set out to do, which is more than what I can say for a lot of other goals I have aimed for.
Today I completed my very first half marathon. And for that I am pretty daggum proud.
I registered for the Diva’s Half Marathon a few months back at the urging of my sister, Amy, who had done the Diva last year and loved it. It was an added plus that the race was held in Peachtree City, GA which is right outside of Newnan where my sister lives (and where I graduated high school in 2003). Geared toward an almost 100% female crowd, my sole sister, Jessica, and I thought the Diva would be a challenging but not intimidating first half.
Race: Diva’s Half Marathon
Location: Peachtree City, GA
Date: September 12, 2015
Time: 7:30 AM
Registration Price: $65.00
What’s Included: Race t-shirt, feather boa, princess crown, medal, champagne
Stars: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)
Prior to race day, Jessica is always scouring the web for race reviews and advice from runners who have already done the race, and because we didn’t know what to expect from our first half, Jessica put her research skills into overdrive. She told me about several reviews she had found on last year’s Diva that weren’t exactly positive, with many racers complaining about the number of hills and the hot, humid weather. One review said, “Just imagine you put a treadmill in a sauna on the highest incline and that’s what this race felt like.” Oh joy!
Race morning rolls up and here we are scurrying to grab our stuff before heading out the door at 5:30 am. We had to travel a few miles over to PTC, then an additional 2 miles from the actual race location for parking. The Divas organizers had arranged for charter buses to shuttle racers from an off site location to the race location, but you had to arrive before 6:55 am when the last shuttle would load.
Because we left Amy’s house at exactly 5:30 am, we arrived at the parking area in no time and loaded a charter bus within 10 minutes of our arrival. On our way out of the parking area, we noticed the line of cars had extended several miles down the road within a 15 minute period. Good thing we got there when we did!
It was dark when we arrived at the race location, so there wasn’t much going on besides racers using the portable toilets (which were absolutely disgusting) and groups like Moms Run This Town and Black Girls Run taking large group photos. There were no vendors with the exception of Success Rice at the race location because the vendors had been at the race expo (packet pickup) the two days prior. We took this time to potty and take a few selfies.
Speaking of the expo- I personally thought it was pretty awesome. The vendors there had quality items and reasonable prices and the products being sold were items that I actually use while running. Jessica and I spent almost an hour in the expo looking around and shopping once we got our packet (which was extremely quick and easy). We even got to take some free photos.
Once we started, Jessica and I ran the first mile nonstop. We noticed there was a large hill between the first and second mile, but the incline wasn’t that bad and it was over quickly. By that time we were on 1:00/0:45 intervals, so our 1 minute walk gave us time for recovery. I noticed another similar hill sometime before the third mile, but with the exception of those hills I didn’t notice any more throughout. I actually thought the course was rather flat, which is the opposite of what Jessica had read on race reviews. Jessica and I even talked about the fact that had we only run the 5K, we would have PR’d!
There was a water stop about every 1.5 miles with plenty of volunteers. Each station offered water up front and Gatorade toward the end of the line, so as I ran I filled my water bottle up with water and drank the Gatorade before we got out of the station. I also fueled up with GU gels and a Shot Block, and with the exception of miles 9 and 10, I felt pretty energized and hydrated.
Around mile 10, another runner began to keep up with us because she could hear the Gymboss that was attached to my shirt. We got to talking to her and for some reason it gave me the energy to keep going. I thought, “I can’t slow down right now because this stranger is relying on my Gymboss.”
If you aren’t familiar with Peachtree City, you probably aren’t familiar with the golf cart system the city has in place (i.e. There are cart paths that can lead you basically anywhere in the city.) Most stores offer cart parking spaces and it is not unusual for a resident to travel to Walmart in their tricked-out cart. A large portion of this race was held on the cart paths through wooded areas and behind beautiful homes. One of the few complaints I have is the smell on the cart path. Amy said she didn’t notice it, but I couldn’t help but notice the “Who just took a dump in their pants?” smell constantly through the cart path.
There seemed to be plenty of volunteers and random strangers with signs encouraging the runners. Many people who lived along the course rode their carts down to the side of the path and would tell us, “You’re doing great!” as we ran by. I also noticed a heavy presence of Fire/EMS personnel on the course riding bicycles.
Towards the very end of the race, volunteers handed out feather boas and crowns for us to wear as we crossed the finish line. There were “hot fireman” at the finish handing out medals and more volunteers handing out champagne.
What better time to take selfies?
After we grabbed our post-race goodies, we found Amy and sat down for less than 10 minutes before a volunteer was hoarding us up to tell us the last shuttle was going to leave in 3 minutes. Um, what? We hauled ass to the bus area and caught the last 2 shuttles back to our vehicle. (BTW: I finished in 3:07.)
Oh, and that reminds me of another complaint I have- the official timing. Jessica always records our time using a Garmin, and according to her Garmin we crossed the finish line around 3:06. The clock when we crossed read 3:08 but my official result shows this:
I definitely wasn’t concerned with my time during the half, but had I been doing the 5K I would have been annoyed. This is bothering Jessica much more than it is me, so I’m including this bit in the event one of the race organizers reads my review. ?
Then we headed to Willy’s, which is apparently a lot like Moe’s “but much better” (according to Amy).
Although I’m pretty sore, I’m not as sore as I thought I would be. Overall, I’m happy with my experience at the Divas and I will definitely be doing it again next year. I’d recommend it as a first half marathon, especially if you are worried about competing against a bunch of totally fit runners. There was a mix of runner types at the Divas and all of them were encouraging.
Did you have a different experience at the Diva’s Half Marathon? I want to hear about it! Comment below with your review!