This was my first race in Atlanta and I didn't even look at the elevation map nor research this race like I normally do with others. I figured it was one of those fun themed races and that I would just go with the flow. Well, it is definitely a fun themed race, but the route had some rolling hills that this Savannahian is definitely not accustomed to. Every turn and we were running up another hill...and more damn hills. I guess this is good practice since I'll be running the Austin marathon in a few weeks and I've been warned that the hills are a-plenty. Even with all the hills, I enjoyed the race route. We ran past some pretty areas - Grant Park, Inman Park, Central Park, and some redeveloped neighborhoods that were really nice. All the volunteers and police officers working the route were super supportive and cheered us on as we ran past them. It was nice to see residents come out and chant us on too!
First race road trip of the year! The race was held on Sunday, Jan. 26 so I left on Saturday morning and carpooled up to Atlanta with my Team In Training (TNT) pals - Larry & Wesley Wilson and Helen Anderson. I enjoy the friendships that have blossomed out of TNT and love that we are continuing to run races together. I love it!
Getting to the expo was a bit ridiculous with the heinous traffic and the lack of signage within the facility. We had to pick up our packets at the Georgia World Congress Center, which was also hosting a cheer competition, as well as a Mattie B concert (yeah, we had to Google him. He's apparently a YouTube sensation and is a mini Bieber). It was nuts. However, with all those people in the crowd, I still happened to run into one of my sister's best friends since childhood who moved to Atlanta last year. Crazy!
We got our packets, our awesome hoodies, and grabbed a complimentary marshmallow dipped in hot fondue and made our way to Wesley's brother's (Foster) house. His 10-year old daughter, Callie, was TNT Savannah Chapter's Honored Hero for 2013. Their family was kind enough to host us for the night and feed us. After dinner and playing a few games, we hit the sheets. Before I went to bed, I checked the Weather Channel and the forecast read clear skies, but cold - the temps in the low 20s. So, we braced ourselves the next morning and bundled up to run in the frigid cold. I did not want to get out of that warm bed! Since we purchased a parking pass at Turner Field, we had to arrive by 6:30 AM. The 5K started at 7:40 and 15K started at 8:25. Wesley, her brother, and nephew ran the 5K. While they ran, Larry, Helen, and I sat in the heated car. We met up with them minutes before the 15K started so we could hand over the car keys. No use for them standing in the cold while they waited for us to finish.
There were so many runners and we couldn't get into our corral (K) so we ended up running in Corral L. Races always start fairly slow when there are so many runners. I kept a nice steady pace taking in the sights of Atlanta. Around mile 7.5, I had it with the hills and pushed myself to run faster so I could get it over with. My fastest mile (mile 8) was done in 8:40 and I sprinted strong through the finish.
Overall, I enjoyed the race and thought it was well organized. There were over 30,000 runners, volunteers, and spectators. Wow!
It was a short, fun trip with great friends and I'm looking forward to our next race this weekend - Tybee Critz Half Marathon!