Thursday, April 05, 2007

Atlanta Part3: The Day the Devil Went Down to Georgia

He laid that golden fiddle on the ground at Johnny's feet.
Johnny said: "Devil just come on back if you ever want to try again.
"I told you once, you son of a bitch, I'm the best that's ever been." "

With some sort of gun or yeehaw or something we were off! Elbows in front of us instantly starting jogging-another sure sign he'd never done this before. He seemed frustrated that no one was running, and I just wanted to tell him there was plenty of time ahead of us for that. It was super cramped as a result of no corrals and no staggered start, so we slowly walked to the start mats and THEN started jogging. Somewhere there was a parked car on the course, but since we were in the middle it didn't affect us. One guy came running through literally pushing people out of his way. What a jerk!! If you want to go that fast get on the front line. Then our local running club president came up beside us! We talked to him for a minute and wished him luck as he sped away. The start was congested, but it was a good way to get started slowly. There was nice crowd support and we headed out. Mile 1: 9:50. The sun was starting to rise and man, it was warm. At this point we'd gone from stark cold to summer temps with no time for acclimation. I reached to scratch my back and I was already sweat covered. So strange to be so sweaty!!! Mile 2: 9:38. The first water stop was around Mile 2, for some odd reason it was on the left, creating massive chaos and people crossed over. The course was still really crowded and we had worn our Fuel Belts so we didn't stop. My plan was to drink my fluids through the half split off, and then start stopping at the provided stations. HA! Somewhere around here a choir (complete with robes) was standing on the side, singing and giving out high 5's. I hoped their 5's would bring me luck!! Mile 3 started taking us into some beautiful neighborhoods of Atlanta. One great thing about the course was the amount of shade on most of it, very nice for such a warm day. It was 68 degrees when the race started and it was just getting warmer. Mile 3: 9:41. Mile 4 took us to the half-full split. This race is set up very strange - you run with the half-ers to around Mile 4. They split off, but then you later rejoin them and run their course as the 2nd half of the marathon - meaning all the half-ers have been through all the aid stations ahead of you from Mile 17 on. For the elite runners, this means running through mass herds of half marathoners to your finish. A mess, I mean - how did they break through them to get their fluids?? Wouldn't some of the elite marathoners get mixed in with the half-ers? It seems like a disaster to keep people separate. Anyway, I wished Brent well and he went left while I kept right. I was on my own now and feeling fine. I turned on my Ipod and got to jamming. Mile 4: 9:38.

I was hoping around Mile 4 to get some Powerade at a waterstop......but there was simply no waterstop. Hmmmm, I thought that was curious. I kept trucking and knocked Mile 5 off in 9:07. I was really looking forward to hitting the 10K mat and sending my chip times back!! We ran through some strange industrial road near the interstate and my Garmin lost me for practically forever. The sun was starting to beat and the hills were starting to appear. Blah. Mile 6: 8:56 At Mile 6 I ate my Cliff Bloks and continued drinking my own water and Powerade, which was quickly depleting. I like to drink small amounts, frequently. And I was starting to feel not so great about the course provided fluids. Mile 7,8,&9 took me about 29 minutes. My Garmin got so off that I ended up hitting lap around Mile 10 to get me back on track, or as close as I could get. Between the non-existent waterstops and my Garmin off I was starting to be grouchy! Around Mile 7 there were signs for Water - but just empty tables. Mile 8 finally brought a real water stop, but no Gatorade. Huh??? It was all so confusing. We were out in the Decatur neighborhood and nice residents were giving out water in their front yards, and some people were even starting to spray us with water hoses which was very much appreciated. Mile 10: 9:22.

I was still holding a good pace and we were finally at "that point" on every course where you turn and start heading back towards the area where you ultimately finish. We passed the Italian restaurant I'd eaten at the night before and there was a great crowd cheering at the intersection. Crowd support throughout the whole race was great, lots of neighborhood support and most sections of the race had at least a few people out cheering. Mile 11: 9:08. We passed a church at this point where people were just standing on the porch watching the sight. At this point one of my favorite Saliva songs - Raise Up - was on my nano, and I get really jazzed during that song and I'm pretty sure I rocked devils horns at them. Around this point I also passed our local running club pres which I thought was strange since he kicked out butt at the Monkey Marathon last fall. Mile 12: 9:29. Now we started through a neighborhood called Druid Hills and they had all sorts of Druid Hills signs up. I don't want to know the name of your neighborhood if it has the word Hills in it. I just don't. So for next year, I'd like to suggest you just call your neighborhood "Druid.". That's enough. We ran down a busy road where the whole other side was a log jam of traffic. I thought their traffic control was odd. Instead of just shutting the whole thing down and detouring people they would have one side with traffic and basically ended up creating a huge, smelly traffic jump of unhappy people. Mile 13: 9:38.

I was still feeling good at this point, though I was increasingly tired. I knew the heat was gonna get me so I was trying to put as many miles behind me as possible before we hit the 80 degree mark. Somewhere around 14 or 16 I finally found some of the grossest, most watered down Powerade I have ever had. Considering it was the only station so far that had any I put some away, but it wasn't easy and it was so frustrating. I have such a weak running stomach that I really have to take my bevs/cliffs in in smaller, more frequent doses not to have slushy stomach, but fluids were so irregular that I had to take what I could get, when I could get it. The first water station I stopped at around Mile 8 was so disorganized I had to pour my own water. Volunteers had just thrown their hands up and stepped back, overwhelmed. We had all learned early we were on our own in this race. I was really hoping that I was taking enough in not to end up cramping later in the race. I've never had that happen, and I really wasn't interested in knowing what that feels like or how it happens. Mile 14: 9:32, Mile 15: 10:10

Around this point I started taking short walk breaks. If a hill looked steep I would walk the steep parts of it as quickly as possible. I didn't see much point in doing the marathon shuffle up then when I could walk quickly and give my legs some rest and keep my heart rate down. Mile 16: 10:26. We headed into a really sunny area here, and still there was no Gatorade. A nice resident was giving out pretzels, so I grabbed a few of those and several other neighbors had large bowls of ice. I'd grab a handful and suck on it until it was melted. I stopped at the waterstations every other mile and walked through, grabbing one cup to drink and one to pour on myself. It was just so hot. And the hills were starting to be a pain. Luckily they were rolling hills, so they weren't long and usually weren't steep, but they were still there. Mile 17: 11:20. Miles 18-20 took us on the worst part of the course. We ran and out and back on a little expressway. The out part was uphill and the whole thing was in the sun. It looked like more of a walk than a marathon, so many people were walking. I knew Brent was going to be waiting to watch for me around Mile 19, so I pushed as hard as I could, which wasn't very hard. Mile 18: 11:24, Mile 19:12:05. Brent was waiting for me just before 19, so we walked quite a ways together and I told him about the lack of fluids and he was pissed. He tooks some pics of me and walked me to the turnaround, and the downhill! I motored as much as I could towards the big blue balloons of the Mile 20 mat where I got more water (I've never been so sick of water) and stopped to refill my bottles as a totally useless volunteer stood and watched me struggle to get the lids off and pour water in. I really just wanted to kick her for being so rude and unaware. Mile 20: 11:03. (Note that Brent is running behind me to get in that picture - he has his half medal on and is carrying his camera!)

At this point I knew the last 6 weren't going to be easy. I wasn't hurting anywhere, but it was more of a drain of energy, like being a bug on the sidewalk. We headed through a neighborhood called Virginia Highlands - again a bad name for a neighborhood a race goes through. I literally remember nothing about this neighborhood. I was just staying focused on running flats and downhills and power walking hills. Mile 21: 11:12, Mile 22: 10:28. FINALLY, an aid station with Gatorade - not POWERADE, the sponsored drink, but Gatorade. And they were pouring it straight from the bottle, which tasted so awesome. The salt just tasted great. I drank two cups, which naturally gave me sloshy stomach but I needed some fluids other than water. Now we were in Piedmont Park, which was very pretty. It was a really pretty park, it would've been nice to kick back on a blanket! Mile 23: 11:07.

I was only 3 miles from the finish, which normally gets me jazzed up but I just felt like I had no energy. I didn't want to book it and have nothing left and I just didn't have much push in me. The heat and hills had zapped me, and I just never knew if there would be another water station or what, so many of them had just been missing. There were scattered oranges and bananas all over the course, but none for us because the half marathoners had consumed them all. We wer finally turning and headed towards the downtown finish. Mile 24: 12:27. The hills in the last couple of miles absolutely killed me. It seemed like the hills were just constant up, up the last two miles. It was a long, straight street through downtown and you could just never see the end of it. Mile 25: 11:42. For some reason I never saw the markers for mile 24 and 25, I just took people's word for it. People started yelling for us to run the last mile, but I just couldn't get going up the hill as badly as I wanted to. All around me everyone was walking, so it was tough to get motivated for some finish line "umph" and I knew I had long ago blown a chance to PR so I really didn't care. About 4 blocks from the finish a lady who had already finished and was wearing her medal looked at me and said "Dig deep, you've only got FOUR blocks". For the past 5 minutes people had been yelling "you're almost there, just make it to the top of this hill" so I no longer believed these people. I looked at her and said "Do you promise?" and she yelled back " I WOULD NOT LIE TO YOU" and at that point I kicked it all in, and kicked it hard. Near the finish line I saw Brent on the side and he ran out to me, yelled at me and then started running as hard as he could down the sidewalk, around the massive crowds of people to take my picture. Seeing his head bob up and down in the crowd cracked me up and made me push even harder. Mile 26: 12:05, Final .2 8:23 pace. Obviously I had steam at the end, and it felt great to sprint. I had loads left, I had just always felt like I really needed to conserve it because in the heat I just couldn't keep anything up for long. I passed a guy right at the finish, got my medal and took a Coke out of a hand of a volunteer. He wasn't actually giving them away, he was just letting us know they had them up ahead. I couldn't have cared less. He told me it wasn't cold and I told him I wasn't either. I called Brent and told him where I was. Marathon #4 was finished, thank God. I've never been so happy to cross a finish line. 4:32:58, 10:24 pace.

Part 4: Taking Oreos, our encounter with homeless guy post marathon & why I like Fritos


At 7:40 AM, Blogger peter said...

Interesting race report. Your splits held up really well for the conditions. And no Gatorade (or powerade)! I'm sure they'll work the kinks out for next year. Maybe find a more level path too.

At 7:41 AM, Blogger E-Speed said...

wow Rae. You really did great. I can't imagine running in weather like that that I wasn't acclimated to with limited resources. You're a rock star!

Love all teh pics!

At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Sarah said...

Man, I feel your pain!! It was like reading my race recap all over again. You stuck it out and did a fantastic job. I really hope people come back for this race, but moreso, I hope they get their crap together because it could have been so much better. Hats off!!

At 11:31 AM, Blogger D said...

Great race report, Rae. Isn't it funny how we go through the different stages during a marathon. It really makes a marathon challenging (as if they are not challenging enough) when the race isn't organized well and the volunteers suck. Despite all that and the conditions, nice job.

At 2:50 PM, Blogger Hilda said...

Incredible how you could overcome the inconvenients like no water or fuel stations and still do it in a great time.

Already the fourth wow Rae! You are definitely in the right way!

At 5:39 AM, Blogger David said...

Your last pic with everybody in heat sheets cracks me up ... I just could not imagine putting anything around me after crossing that line. All I wanted was to jump in a pool or a pile of ice.

Good early and mid race pace times. Under better conditions, you'd have had a new PR.

What's next?

At 7:45 PM, Blogger Anne said...

This installment was well worth the wait, Rae. Especially the line you gave the guy with the warm Coke. Such wit after such a race.

At 7:43 AM, Blogger jeanne said...

man, you held up so well! what a dismally organized race? what kind of nitwits came up with that plan??!?! I'm with you: i don't need to know in advance about any hills. not until I'm on them.
remind me to cross georgia off my list. (I don't actually have a list, but if I did, georgia would be so coming off it.) i love that you took that clueless guy's coke!

You still finished strong, despite all your trials.

Well done, as usual!


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