Peachtree 2009 started with the usual 4:30AM WAKE UP!!! A quick shower and a
liquid breakfast to-go and I was on the road. Arrived at the Kroger parking lot on Piedmont at 5:30AM. After checking that I had everything like number, hat, ID and sunglasses, I started the trek up Peachtree to the starting line. Along the way I noticed an officer with a friendly looking dog coming down the street. The dog had a hyper-active nose, he was smelling everything. I surmised that someone had dumped some drugs to avoid being caught with a stash. Soon, I saw the same thing on the other side of Peachtree, another dog, not as cute as the one on my side of the road, sniffing everything in sight. Then it dawned on me, it was the bomb squad looking for explosives! During the race, I saw one lady running wrapped up like a mummy. I stayed clear of her in case she blew up. You never know.
My queue area was the Lenox parking lot. There was no rhyme nor reason to the way the port-a-johns were arranged, back-to-back, facing each other, making it next to impossible to form a line in front of them. One guy in our twisted, meandering line that coiled itself back toward the bandstand for the evening fireworks show, came up with a master plan, going through the rows of green closets and knocking on each to determine if they were occupied. Thus, our line dissipated while the other lines grew exponentially as more and more runners arrived from the trains. I found my friend at our UDL (undisclosed location), a place we can sit until moving to our start location. One idiot came down our way and relieved himself on a wall instead of the ample bushes nearby. That is going to smell when they open the mall for business I thought. He also apparently thought he was well hidden behind the clear, glass doors...NOT!
We got to our starting corral at 7:00AM. I remembered that I had forgotten the bottle of Gatorade I was going to drink 5 minutes before the start. I grabbed a couple of cups of water, but it is not the same. One guy in our corral was painted like the flag. Should we salute this fellow? An Asian guy thought he had discovered the perfect pickup line, accosting every good-looking girl he could find and reminding them to be aware of the timing board across the road this year to record when you cross it with the chip tied to your shoe. Why he thought this little bump would endanger only young women and no one else is one clever mystery to me.
Taking it easy to check out the system. All signs pointed to a good race. Mainly, the legs felt rested and springy. One poor fellow was seen running against the current, trying to get to the starting line without being trampled in order to get his chip recorded, otherwise, his time would not be recorded.
A couple of goofs that had inched their way up to the front of our group before the race turned out to be pretenders. They were walking! I gave them my best frown as I blew by.
Where the fun begins. T-shirts being tossed in the air and chaos taking place in the scramble to obtain a Planet Smoothie or a Chik-Fil-A T-shirt for nothing! Except maybe breaking your neck. My baseball skills got me a Planet Smoothie Tee just for me. Ripped it from the outstretched arms of a pretty, young thing. They are always the intended target, it seems. For those who missed breakfast, a donut or a slice of pizza was available on the sidelines.
Not many jump-ins this year probably because everyone had a timing chip, and you don't get recorded if you don't cross the starting line. We reached three miles in 32 minutes, not as good as expected but I still felt fresh for the hills to come. Hit the water stations big time in miles 3,4 and 5.
Long haul to drag myself over the hill at Piedmont hospital and the Sheppard spinal center. When you see people in wheelchairs cheering you on, it makes the pain in your legs and lungs go away. Raced all the old ladies I saw up the hill, a matter of pride.
A lesser, sneaky hill to overcome here, and you haven't recovered yet from the big one. What's this? An unopened Coors rolling across the pavement in front of me. Resisted the temptation and didn't break stride. Got into a footrace with Superman, at least he looked like Superman, cape included. He was faster than the elderly ladies, had to let him go.
After making the turn onto 10th, it is all down hill. As we passed the photographers, one guy stops and congratulates himself, then looks puzzled as runners continue passing him by. I gave the news that it was a photo finish and the real finish was another quarter mile down the road. I've never seen a more disappointed look. The finish is still so spread out between water, t-shirts, port-a-johns, find-your-friends area and other refreshments that it takes another 2 miles of walking to cover each station. I opted for water, t-shirt and friends before heading for the car 5 miles away. Watching the other runners helps pass the time, 55,000 is a huge amount of people. I can only imagine the logistics required to move 100,000 soldiers around on a battlefield. It seems easy when you read it in a history book, but it must have created much chaos in reality.