Thursday, July 29, 2010


It is the morning of the Peachtree Road Race. I up and ready to rumble. Wait a minute. It is only 3am. These internal clocks are tricky on days like this. I roll over and do a light doze until 4:30am. I'm up again, and this time it is for real. My running gear is neatly laid out the night before where I won't have to scramble to find anything. I get the coffee perking and take a quick, cold shower to wake up the rest of me. I normally take hot showers, but they dehydrate me too much to have one before a race.

I'm out the door at five. The streets are empty except for the occasional car heading for the same destination that I am. I arrive at my secret parking space near Piedmont and Peachtree around twenty after, ten minutes before they start closing the side streets. That really makes the Buckhead residents mad. They all have to be somewhere on race day, of course, and they can't wait to complain to their congressman about how their street was blocked. It won't do them any good for the race brings a bundle of revenue to Atlanta. From my parking location, it is about a mile to the start. I use the walk to warm-up my legs. The rest of me is still debating if I really want to do this. Shouldn't I be sleeping?

I soon arrive at Lenox Square and stakeout my park bench in an undisclosed niche of the mall. Here I suck down the precious fluids that will allow me to finish this thing without passing out. It fun to watch the new arrivals from the MARTA trains The new runners wander around trying figure out where they are supposed to be. some are here early to sneak in the wrong coral. I see several L's headed for the D coral. Later, to their chagrin, they will be yanked and sent to the proper starting coral. It doesn't do any good, however. People pour into the race, starting around the 5 mile mark where the monitoring ends. It wouldn't be so bad if these slowpokes stayed in single file, but they often are seen 5 abreast, clogging up Peachtree for the real runners. Seeded runners do not weigh 250 pounds, have a pot belly, and walk while socializing with their friends.

Speaking of bodies, every type of body shape you can imagine runs Peachtree. It is the only place on Earth that you can really look weird, but normal compared to the person standing next to you in this sea of humanity.

I have a Lower race number than last year, but back one coral to E instead of D. Who's doing the math around here? The smell of cigarettes permeates the air. Gag! A volunteer is taking a smoke break. He's doing this in front of the wrong crowd and is admonished for it.

The race has started. some of the runners in my wave cross the starting line too soon. This is as if they have already started even though we are still standing here. Boy, will they be disappointed in their finish times. At last the E's are rolling down Peachtree, some of us not aware that they are already logged as starting 2 minutes ago.

You would think I could spot one friend in a crowd of 55,000. Of the 55,000 runners there are only 50,000 official finishers. Most of those 5,000 non-finishers are those that jumped in along the way. I see dads putting their kids in about a mile from the end in order to get a photo of them crossing the finish line. Training your kid to cheat doesn't seem to be the best idea. How do they they tag the photo on Facebook, I wonder, "My son finishing the Peachtree he didn't run?"

I am on pace until the big hill at Piedmont hospital. After that one, my day is done. I put it in cruise and drag myself through the next 2 miles. I end in a blaze of glory, taking advantage of the downhill when we turn onto 10th Street. Amazing to see all the runners. Most of them I think I am faster than, but why can't I keep up? Is that Lindsy Lohan blowing pass me? At least she waved.

They need Hooters to cater a post-race party. Instead, we get a water bottle here, a banana way over there, the coveted T-shirt in between, and if you have the energy, one can obtain a Powerade far away and in the opposite direction of everything else. I need a couple to replace the lost fluids, and be able to make the return trip of 5 miles to my car. Once, I could back the whole way no matter how hot it got, but now it run the downs and walk the ups for me. It is energy conservation is the theme, instead of get there as quickly as you can in days gone by.

Going back to the car is the fun part, watching the endless stream of runners doing their thing. I liked the pub crawlers mimicking the military groups that run in formation behind a flag barrier, only their flag has a beer mug on it, and none of them are in step, They take a break under a tree near WSB and draw a cool one from a keg strategically stationed there. I also saw a Chinese couple in the middle of the countless runners, taking a stroll down Peachtree Road in shorts and sandals, apparently enjoying a tour of the city. They were not the slowest people in this phase of the race.

A Panama Jack (he has the hat) looking homeless guy was having fun waving at everyone. I don't know at what point he decided to jump in the race, but he hit every water station. One Water station obstructs the entire sidewalk and has tough looking dudes directing people around it, up one driveway and down another for no good reason. This year, I ignored them and ran against the flow until I was safely past the ill-placed tables adorned with cups of water and Powerade. This is really more a water hazard than a place to quench your thirst, obviously thought out by educators.

I'm at the car. Now I can drive home and relax. Mission accomplished.