Latest reviews by Nisa

(2016)
"Georgia Publix on my mind....."
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Sunday, March 20, I ran the 2016 Georgia Publix Half Marathon. What a race this was! This is not a race for the feint hearted runner. This is a fabulous course with a lot of hills (particularly in the end of the course) full of turns that winds it's way from Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta through a large number of Atlanta neighborhoods including a portion of Piedmont Park. It skirts GA Tech on Tech Parkway on the way back to Centennial Park for the finish.

This was a great race from the get go registration. Atlanta Track Club organized the race well and the support throughout the entire race was amazing. The medal this year is one of the most beautiful I have ever received and the care for all runners post-race is evident. There is plenty of post-race food and all runners receive a cloth windbreaker to help with the post-race chills.

The course is a challenge and is a popular choice for Atlantans completing winter training programs. It is a sort of pre-spring proving ground for runners testing their mettle against the "will" of Atlanta terrain and road infrastructure. If you are traveling in from out of town you won't be disappointed with the ease of access from nearby hotels/ restaurants/public transportation for the start/finish of this race.

If you are looking for a race that will push you, school you, make you a better runner - this one is it. If you are looking for a race with a beautiful run through neighborhoods and around the downtown area this is a great choice.

Hope to see you next year!

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(2016)
"Beauty and the 5K Beast! "
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The Atlanta Women's 5K is a hotly anticipated race in the Atlanta Track Club's racing series. A week after the successful Publix Half Marathon and Full Marathon in Centennial Park, Atlanta, the 5K race is seen as a chance to achieve a 5K goal for many that have trained all season for the longer races. It also serves as a proving ground for ATC's Atlanta Women's 5K training program that spans the winter months and introduces women to a way to run a first time or repeat 5K. This is a very popular women's only race that draws a huge racing crowd of women from the Atlanta Metro Area and beyond. It sells out quickly online every year. Lining up in the corrals I spied mothers running with daughters, friends running with friends, generations of women running with each other - grandmothers, mothers, daughters....little ones in the stroller division. This race is a celebration of women and running!

Swag....this is one of the best swag races if you love receiving swag...a running shirt, a beautiful medal, a great snack pack, and flowers at the finish often given out by WOMEN AND MEN volunteering at the race finish line. Women running this race are made to feel important as they cross the line. A wonderful feeling.

This race is hilly and runs in a different neighborhood every few years. This year it ran in the beautiful neighborhood area around Chastain Park. The course is challenging and worthy of a good run effort.

There are women who mentioned in race reviews that they want what regular coed races have at the the end of their finish lines...beer, music....but I love the simplicity of what is rewarded each women who crosses the Atlanta Women's 5K finish line...a sense of achievement and camaraderie among other women. A chance to be an example for girls, teens, and young women who will come back and run with them the next year.

If you are looking for a fun, fast and challenging race for your calendar next year - and you are of the female persuasion then the Atlanta Women's 5K is for you!!!

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(2016)
"Falling Down and Getting BACK UP Yeti Style"
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I fell during hard on this amazing course and wrote an article about it originally posted on Facebook for the Atlanta Track Club under their Half Marathon Training Page. I will include it below. Before I do I would run this race or another race in this area anytime. The race management was awesome and the park itself is beautiful.

"Falling Down

Falling down. As runners this is one of our secret fears. Naturally, we don’t tend to think about it until it happens. Lately, I have been hearing stories of runners in our half-marathon training group that have fallen hard on the pavement and on the trail during mid-week training runs and in races. I also know stories of friends and runners over the years that have fallen hard and sadly have lost the joy and freedom of running in their lives.

On Valentine’s Day, at the Yeti Heartbreaker Trail Marathon at Sweetwater Creek, I became part of this unwanted club and fell hard down a steep and rocky part of one of the course trails. I have fallen before during a trail race, but never this hard. I was running well, in fact, better than I expected for the day and took a risk I knew I should not have taken. I stepped short on a flat rock that teetered and pitched forward trapping my left foot with it. The rest of my body immediately lurched forward and I literally “cartoon” fell on top of my right leg bent at the knee. Ouch. The fall knocked the wind out of me and it took me a few minutes to go through the automatic actions of checking to see if my body was ok. My adrenaline was flowing and I immediately became very stiff. I could not tell for a few minutes if I was injured or not. Luckily for me, I only sustained some bruising and some hamstring and knee soreness, but nothing more. I would run again in a few days.

When you fall down 90% of the battle is won when you stand back up even if standing up takes some time. In trail running runners tend to spread out on the trails in later stages of a race and many times a runner might be miles from an aid station or someone that can help. The last 10% can be the hardest of the entire journey back to safety and back to help because often times the rocks and trails have to be slowly traversed on your own. There might not be any immediate help. Runners might pass you and if you are moving towards home base they will check on you and then head back out again. This is the way it should be. As long as you are moving forward to help then that is progression. The race continues on.

In a strange twist of fate falling on Sunday was the best thing that could have happened to me. Instead of permanently scaring me senseless, it gave me the courage I needed to understand that falling is sometimes a part of running just as it a part of every day life. As runners we run to encourage others to run with us and to better ourselves and our lives by gaining the inspiration to engage the world more fully. Falling is scary, but the fear does not have to define us. It does not have to steal our inspiration or our hope for something loved not lost. The courage it takes to get back up and move forward again can redefine your future goals and help you tackle unwanted fears. It can fill your well with the grace of strength and fortitude or just top it off. It can give you a chance to see with a new perspective."

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(2016)
"This race is all HEART! "
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Brrrrrr. The Atlanta Track Club's (ATC) Heart and Soles 5K is a fast, relatively flat out and back course that is designed to build speed. So far this is the flattest of all the ATC races I have participated in. The only reason I gave it a two star on elevation difficulty is that it has two gently rolling hills in the beginning and end of the course. It is also not a course designed for a scenic run. To me it was out and back and done. Not much to see when you are running a race fast and flat focusing on your speed. This race is also part of the Grand Prix Point Series that the ATC manages all year long. (See atlantatrackclub.org for more information on the Grand Prix Series.)

February 6, means it is COLD even with our increased, year around humidity in Atlanta. The morning started out at below freezing and rose to the mid thirties for the race. The air was crisp and clear and there was little or no wind. Better conditions could not have been wished for in a winter race with no precipitation.

This race attracts a large number of elite masters and elite runners and the field is stacked with speed. A popular Atlanta race this is one not to miss if you live in Atlanta or are visiting for the weekend. Tuck this one under your training belt or count it as family/friend time in the mid-winter and look forward to the next race. Post-race plans to pick up hot coffee or hot chocolate on the way home are a must. I know I earned a cup and you will too!

**Note: There was no expo for this race and no swag because it is a ATC Grand Prix Series event.

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(2016)
"Cloudland Canyon 12 mile - Rising and falling in the clouds"
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I am a return "newbie" to the sport of trail running after trying a few trail races about 5 years ago. I re-engaged the sport in 2015 and now have set my sights high on trail races and goals for 2016. Cloudland Canyon was my first trail race of 2016 and it truly seemed like a race in the clouds. I had no idea what to expect from the race except that I knew from the Cloudland Canyon State park web site and the race web site that we would be running in the canyon and that meant elevation changes - 2100 feet of them!

The race is a combination of a short road run that leads to the canyon, a trail run along the West Rim Trail, and then a descent down into the canyon. What goes down must come up and after the descent and a trail run to the aid station a return trip up the canyon stairs was inevitable. The race ended with a 1.25 mile easier run to the finish line that was WELL needed after the descent and ascent shredded my legs.

This race is draw dropping. It is a challenge worth taking! The scenery is gorgeous and does not disappoint to any degree. The morning of the race there was low cloud level and serious fog, but views of the canyon were still visible as we closed in off the West Rim trail and running into the canyon was like entering another world. I could have stayed at the waterfalls in the canyon for hours, but the race drew me away. There is one catch though.....Is the race 11 miles long, 12 miles, 13 miles......even though the race entry says 12 miles? The race director is not quite sure and/or just won't say, but instead smiles when you ask him. For his part this race is about challenging yourself and seeing what he wants you to see along the course - the absolute beauty of the canyon. I think the race was a tad bit over 13 miles, but I did not care about the actual distance. I challenged myself, raced, and saw the wonder of nature in this part of the world. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Another great thing about this race is that the Race Director offers an optional dorm bed in the lodge where the race starts via the park service. I agreed to do this along with volunteering for the 50 mile race post my own 12 mile race. This proved to be a the right sleeping choice and a great experience. I made more than a few new friends and waking up 150 ft from the check-in and start was a boon to the day. I can't say I got more rest due to the 50 milers that had to be up at 4 am, but I still garnered more than enough ease in the morning that it was well worth the small cost of the dorm bed.

The start and finish of this race is deep within Cloudland Canyon State Park so make sure you take friends and family with you if possible. The 12 mile option is a great alternative for running friends that don't want to run the 50 mile but still want the Cloudland experience. If you are running the 50 mile option take a running crew with you so that they can at least cheer you on at the last check-in. This is crucial for an extra smile to lead you into the last 12 miles and a great way to motivate you to keep on running! I was lucky and blessed enough to go with a current running friend and one of her colleagues who has since become another ultra running friend. They both courageously attempted the 50 mile. We stayed in the dorm together and had a blast the entire trip. Trip cost was low so there was ample time to focus on other parts of the trip on the way home.

I can't wait to run this race again! A couple more things....

1. The food was amazing post race and there was more than enough of it - BBQ and a vegan alternative. All the runners seemed to have their own small pantries of food, but much of it was not needed. This race provides enough.

2. BE PREPARED for any weather scenario. Last year the temps were in the low teens and did not get much higher throughout the day. Cloudland Canyon was frozen! This YEAR the temps were in the upper forties at the start and the air was wet with a slight drizzle/light rain. Perfect running temps. Sat night post race we had pouring down rain and snow the next morning as temps dropped to freezing. Be prepared to run in any kind of weather.

3. This is not a big swag race and really should not be. There is a race shirt and the all important pub glass to fill from the keg at the finish of both races, BUT the swag is not why you run this race - the experience/challenge is and the swag is enough.

See you on the trails!

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