Georgia on my mind…but Lindsey in my heart.
Full disclosure…I have really enjoyed having a “running buddy” for the past two years. Sure, Lindsey is much faster than me, but it was a pleasant change from the “lone wolf” life. I did this race two years ago, and was anxious to try it again. Lindsey was totally onboard, and we booked our flights. It was a few weeks before the race when a bittersweet turn of events would put her participation in jeopardy. Lindsey accepted a new position with the Weather Channel, and would be moving to New York. Her first week was right before the race, but she was determined to do whatever she could to fly into Atlanta. After exhausting every possibility, we came to the somber conclusion that breaking the bank was the only way to get a flight from NYC to Atlanta on such short notice.. Rachel was already committed to a USY convention in Tampa, so it literally looked as if I would be “flying solo.” In a truly selfless act, Glenda stepped up to the plate and offered to be my companion for the weekend. It was smack-dab in the middle of tax season, and she had been putting in outrageous hours at the office. Nevertheless, a weekend away was a good remedy to recharge her creative batteries.
We flew in Friday afternoon, and stayed at the Hyatt Regency. They were the host hotel this year, as there was a good amount of construction going on in front of the Omni. We really liked this place, and the layout is very reminiscent of the Contemporary in WDW. We grabbed lunch at Max Lager’s, which was less than one block away from the hotel. The food was excellent, and we polished off the meal with their famous Fried Cheesecake. Yes…it was as good as it sounds. We then went to the expo, which was conveniently located in the hotel. WHAT A DISSAPOINTMENT! Two years ago, the expo was at the Georgia World Congress Center; I made several purchases, including two jackets. The expo this year was tiny, and I couldn’t even make a pity purchase. I would expect an expo like this for a race with 1,000 people or less; not nearly 7,000 runners. The race shirt was very similar to the one from two years ago, but at least it was green for St. Patrick’s Day. Back up to the room, Glenda pretty much passed out, and I watched the NCAA basketball tournament.
We made plans to have lunch on Saturday with Susan, Betsy, and Mark. They all live in Atlanta, and it was a great opportunity to get together. Betsy and Mark picked us up at the hotel, and we met Susan at Marlow’s Tavern. With the St. Patrick’s Day parade taking place, the trip to Marlow’s was a bit more time-consuming (and scenic) than expected. We had a great time catching up, but for some reason, I wasn’t feeling that great. We checked out the start and finish of the race, as it was moved just a bit because of all the construction. A couple offered us their tickets to the CNN tour; it pretty much sucked. Back at the hotel, it was now my turn now to pass out. It got too late to go out for supper, so we ordered in some chow from room service.
The race start on Sunday was at 7am, with my particular wave going off at 7:12am. 6,563 runners took their mark (1,008 for the full; 4,555 for the half), with the temperature around 53°. For reasons I can’t fully explain, I was a little disappointed in the course two years ago. I think my expectations were too high at the time; I realized it later on. This year, the plan was to soak in each and every mile. Unlike the previous day, I felt great. This course was very scenic, and there was no shortage of hills. Nothing like Mount Dora, Ocala, or Gainesville, but I knew I would be feeling it several days after the race. Some of the more picturesque highlights include Georgia State University, The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, and Georgia Tech. All I can tell you is that every inch of the race was aesthetically pleasing; how did I miss that last time? I felt strong from start to finish, and I can honestly say it was one of the most enjoyable races of my running career. Glenda was waiting for me as I crossed the finish line, and she was in good position to take a photo. The medal was just okay, but they did have chocolate milk for the finishers. The after-party took place in the area between the Atlanta Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola. They had some good snacks, but we needed to get back to the hotel to catch our flight.
This is a race I hope to do again, but only if Lindsey runs with me.
KEEP TRACK OF MY RUNNING ON