Monday, March 21, 2011

And just like that the Georgia Marathon is done…

Funny how races seem to be so far in the distance and then one day you wake up and realize the race is next weekend. I had almost no nerves at all for this race. Leading up to the race, I had a few random things that worried me like the weather but didn’t feel overly excited or nervous. I took Friday off of work in order to sleep in a little late, play a couple of those tennis matches I mentioned in my last post and pick up my race number. Friday ended up being a whirlwind of activity. My day pretty much was get up, speed to a tennis match, speed down to the expo, speed back home for 20 minutes, speed back to another tennis match, and home at 10 pm.

The expo was downtown so I was trying to time it in the best manner possible to avoid Friday afternoon traffic in downtown Atlanta. I have since determined there is no best time possible to avoid traffic downtown. I would LOVE an option to have my number mailed to me as opposed to going downtown for the pickup. The Peachtree Road Race mails their numbers for a fee but am guessing that is because you pick up the shirt post race so they are only mailing the number and some informational papers. At this point, I would be OK with not even getting the shirt as the unisex ones rarely fit especially now that they are mostly dri fit. I am not sure why that is but a small cotton shirt in unisex fits perfect. A small dri fit shirt unisex is too big and I never wear it. Ladies sizes would be fantastic, if any of you race directors are out there listening. (crawling off soap box now…)

I loved the timing chips used for this race. Instead of a D tag that you put on your shoe, the chip was a B tag that was already affixed to the back of the number. You don’t have to do anything to it other than pin your number on like you would normally. One less thing to worry about is always nice.

I was so relaxed about this race, I literally waited until 5 minutes before I went to bed to figure out whether I was going to drive or take the train and get my gels and whatnots ready for the next day. Typically, I obsess over everything and lay it all out like you would on your first day of school. I ended up driving as opposed to taking the train. Had I been running the half, I would have taken public transport but given I was running the full and wasn’t sure how I would feel afterwards, the thought of having a car relatively nearby seemed like a good idea. If you haven’t been to Atlanta, our train system has its benefits but doesn’t cover the entire city like Chicago or New York’s systems and is certainly not used to the extent of those larger cities. Public transportation is not something Atlantans embrace as much as they could. Post race, had I taken the train, it would have meant a lot more walking on tired legs followed by changing trains and then a 20 minute ride home. I had some guilt over not taking the race’s “recommended” mode of transportation; however, in this instance I liked the idea of driving much better.

So race day…. Left the house at 5:00 am for a 7:00 am race start. Got to the park around 6:00 which was perfect. Last minute port o pottie stops and off to the corral. Could not have timed it better. I had been a little worried about the weather as the day before had been sunny and 85. HOT for March. I knew I was not acclimated to that kind of heat just yet so was hoping for cool and cloudy. Thankfully, my prayers were answered - it was cloudy and in the 60s!

The race itself was kind of uneventful. I bumped into quite a few people that I knew on the course which is unusual. I typically know people who might be running but rarely see them on race day. The start went pretty quickly. I ended up being in Corral H. I think it was only 8 or 10 minutes between the official start and my start. The first part of the course was shoulder to shoulder but there were enough gaps to keep a steady pace and not feel the need to constantly dart around peoplle. At mile 7, the half marathoners split off on a separate route. There were about 11,000 half-ers compared to 2,000 for the full. Once they peeled off on their way to the finish it was noticeably more quiet, like going from a Bon Jovi concert to a flute solo.

The course was extremely hilly, pretty much a constant up and down and sometimes it just seemed like a constant up with no offsetting down. Lots of long slow climbs. We went through a lot of neighborhoods and back roads for the most part. Despite the hills, i really enjoyed the course. It was scenic with just enough spectator support to keep you going. There were plenty of water and Gatorade stops, 2 sections where they were passing out orange slices and two more where they passed out GU.

In fact, I think the only complaint I heard from anyone about the race was the food at the end. The ironic part about the food being an issue is that Publix (a grocery chain) was the presenting sponsor. After most of the half marathoners came through they completely ran out of food. From what I have read on various message boards, it sounds like the volunteers weren’t trained on the need to ration out the food and were loading up the first waves of runners with enough food to feed a village. The runners were given some kind of bag at the food line and the volunteers were filling it to the brim with food whether the runners asked for it or not.

At around the 2:45 to 3 hour mark when the marathoners started coming through there were only bananas left. The organizers scrambled to restock a bit so by the time I rolled through at 4:45 ish there was some food being offered but just not what you would typically expect. I had no idea all this had gone on of course so I just thought the food selection was rather limited and kind of unusual. There was no water, powerade or anything to drink. In terms of food, I was given a pack of crackers, a green banana and a pack of M&Ms. There were also a couple of cupcakes but at that point after having sucked down nothing but sticky sweet GU over the past few hours, the thought of a cupcake, M&Ms or anything sweet was not very appealing. I would have liked a bagel or at least something to drink but I can’t say the food mishap upset me like it did others. Although, had I come through at a time when there were just bananas I might feel differently.

I truly just thought the food selection and the way the volunteers were being sticklers about making sure we only received one of each item was odd. Now that I know the whole story, it all makes sense. I guess the organizers regrouped and realized the food free for all wasn’t the way to go. I did not hear until later that there had been more typical food offerings like bagels, chocolate milk and larabars earlier on and they just ran out. Turns out it is just the downside of being at the back of the pack. If you want chocolate milk, you have to run fast. ;)

All in all, I really enjoyed the race. No post race soreness at all. I ended up doing a 4 minute run / 1 minute walk Galloway style and finished in 4:47. I'll take it!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

22 comments:

ajh said...

Congrats on a successful race. I am still thinking of doing the run/walk for my next marathon. I'll see.

Meg O @watchmegorun said...

Great job and Congrats! Glad you felt good after!

Kim at TennisFixation said...

Congratulations on your race and thanks for the complete description - I really enjoyed reading everything you were thinking to get through your marathon.

Runblondie26 said...

Yay, I'm glad to hear the race went smoothly. Even better that you feel do good today.

The race volunteers were dumping stuff into my bag by the handfuls at the finish. I'm so sorry everything was gone. I guess no one realized how quickly it would go.

Runblondie26 said...

BTW, I noticed you posted on the Active Ambassadors facebook page. What team were you on last year?

I'm hoping to get picked for one this year. I've applied for Team Aquaphor and was going to apply for Team Marathon too. Is there anything you recommend including on the application?

Anonymous said...

I finished the marathon in 3:14 a PR. I was really excited and one of the things that got me through the last miles was thinking about eating something at the end. When I turned down the food alley all that was left were the signs for the food that was. I hobbled through the park trying to find something and asked a few volunteers who kept pointing me back to the road way. I got fed up, cursed Publix, and hobbled to MARTA. I asked somebody with a bag of food for a banana and finally settled down. If they don't want to support a marathon, why sponsor it.

Mary-Michael said...

Congratulations! Sounds like you had a great race (& cool looking medal to boot!) How were you so calm? My marathon is this Saturday and I'm a bundle of nerves.

Jim ... 50after40 said...

Great race and great report. I know what you mean, we build them up in our minds for so long, and then lying there in bed the night before thinking about it, you can't believe it's actually here.

Jennifer said...

Great race report and good attitude as well. Stuff happens but you had an excellent race, I thought so anyway. And even better, your recovery is blazing!

Kate said...

Congratulations! Wow, you really were relaxed ahead of tiem...bet that was a good feeling! I'll probably be back and re-reading before my marathon. :)

With all the logistics involved, it's amazing to me how often races go off without a hitch. Hopefully they learn from their mistakes on this one.

Amanda said...

Glad to hear that you had a good race and no post race soreness - that's awesome!

momwifefitnesslife said...

Great job!!! Sounds like you had a good time and RELAXED!!! :-)
Thanks for sharing!

lindsay said...

We barely have a "bus system" up here in Greenville... And the change in temps from sat to sun was nice! Glad it worked out for your race. That stinks about the food situation.

Congrats on your marathon!!

Tim Wilson said...

Congrats on a great race and nice write up!

I am sorry about your food choices, I was one of those (since I dropped to the half) that got way more food than I needed without asking.

David said...

Great work! I finished at 4:03 amongst a big pack of runners and the volunteers were bringing tons of mini cupcakes and cookies to the food area - but I couldn't stomach the thought of eating something sweet. I looked everywhere but couldn't find a single banana.

Darlene said...

WooHoo!! Great race!! If I ever do a marathon, I think I'll do the run/walk too.

Ewa said...

This is a very cool race report. Thank you.
I've been doing some run/walks lately and totally enjoying them. On trails it is hard sometimes to run all the time.
No soreness after the race - that is almost a miracle.

Colleen said...

You seem so relaxed... I love it! Great job on a great race. Hate hearing that they ran out of food...

Aron said...

Congrats on a great race!!!

Jane said...

Congrats on a FANTASTIC race! You should be extremely proud - a marathon is no easy feat! That stinks about the food situation. If there's one thing you need during a marathon, it's ENOUGH ENERGY! I remember during the Boston Marathon last year, by the end I was taking food (pretzel sticks, bananas) from spectators because I was so hungry - and taking food from strangers is NOT something I'm accustomed to doing! Congrats again and thanks for the race re-cap!! Hope you're not too sore!!

erin said...

LOL Congrats! Sorry abut the food - but love your comment that if you wanted chocolate milk you have to run faster! :)

AStarrA said...

Hi I'm over in GA too (Dacula) my mother and I have been talking about getting into running/marathons, of course starting easy with a 5k. I was wondering if you had any tips about starting or know of any good races, websites etc. Thanks :)