Wednesday, April 06, 2011


I woke up at four-thirty to get ready for the big Georgia half marathon starting at Centennial Olympic park. I took a relaxing shower. I laid out my running gear the night before in case I ran short of time and had to scramble to leave on time.

It was a relatively warm morning for a race this long. No need for warm-ups. The trip to town was uneventful until I got onto Peachtree. I found myself catching the stoplights with a custom metallic blue Prelude headed for the same destination. We caught a green light at Peachtree and Ponce, but before we entered the intersection a black suburban SUV came racing up to light, going the wrong way on the one-way part of Ponce and running the red light right in front of us. The owner of the Prelude and I stared at each other for a moment, wondering what the driver of the SUV was smoking. We slowly proceeded to the race after gathering our courage to travel the ever dangerous Atlanta streets.

I'm early, so I listen to some music to get me rocking and finish my chocolate milk that somehow did not spill when we had to make the sudden stop to avoid a collision with the crazy guy. I take a sip of Coke to wash it down, then head to the start line humming "Highway to Hell" along the way. I don't like the way they stage races now, using fences and ropes to keep everyone in the proper order. We might as well be a herd of cattle headed for branding.

The race starts and I actually feel better than I feared, probably the adrenaline flowing in my veins. I feel some pain in my left knee, but it is manageable. Around the two mile mark a girl comes up behind me talking to her friend and not paying attention to anything else, steps on my heel causing my shoe to fly off into the crowd of runners. I'm in the middle of the road, trying to locate my shoe while avoiding the thousands of runners bearing down on me. I spot it, hop-skip over to retrieve it, dodging people along the way. The tricky part was bending over to pick it up without causing a big pile-up. I succeeded and hop-skipped to the curb, leaning against a telephone pole to slip it back on my foot. Despite this delay I averaged 12 minutes per mile for the first 5 miles. The knee started bothering me more, causing me to do more and more walking and by mile 9 my average was 14 minutes per mile. The last 4 miles found me only running the up hills, and walking the rest.

By the end my average per mile had slipped to 15 minutes. But I finished! And my knee was not re-injured. I had a slow half marathon time, but the good marathoners were coming in around the time I finished. To everyone's disappointment, the goodie table was bare, not even one banana to share. Talk about some furious runners. The early finishers were handed goodie bags which they used to loot and plunder until everything had been taken, leaving the volunteers with nothing but empty tables. One of them mumbled that she thought another truck was on the way. How it would get inside the restricted area remains a mystery. And how was this communication relayed to her, one person in a crowd of 10,000. Think she was making stuff up to appease the angry mob. I drove home empty handed. Decided along the way to run smaller, less logistical nightmare, races in the future.

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