Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Peachtree Road Race 2008

With the changes to the finishing area of the Peachtree Road Race, there were plenty of unanswered questions regarding parking nearby. As usual, on the drive down I had a mild-panic attack regarding whether I had allotted enough time. Considering the numerous road-closures, I wanted to park relatively near MARTA. Many others had the same idea, so I quickly settled on a safe place near the new GT Hotel, about a half mile from the North Avenue Station.

Judging from the helicopters overhead, the wheelchair race was in its final stages. Lee had Breeze cards, and there was a good number of runners downstairs waiting on the northbound train. When it arrived it was already crowded, but we all managed to cram ourselves in that first train. It took its time to get to the Lenox Station, but we still had plenty of time. I could feel my un-trained legs tighten climbing the station steps. Most runners headed off in wrong directions, but we led a small pack of runners straight up the small side street to Peachtree, right at the groups 5 & 6 staging area. Will and Dixon tried to sneak into group five, but they were rebuffed.

After a quick ten minutes our group began advancing, and we crossed the new southern start line at the 43:10 mark in the race. Thousands had already finished. Though crowded at the start, Lee and I had no trouble staying together or trotting at a pace were we could converse. The tightness in our legs eventually worked themselves out in the first mile, which we were pleased to cover in 11:20. I pointed out highlights along the way, like the Atlanta Fish Market Restaurant down Pharr Road. The left side of the road was clear, but as we passed the Buckhead Moe’s there was little activity besides a band playing music. Many times they throw freebies to the crowd, but there was a break in the action. Lee and I did find green Welcome to Moe’s bracelets on the street to give to our youngest sons.

We were able to make it to SPdL without much problem, where we briefly stopped to say hello…Skip & Peggy Weisenbaker, Oeida Sara, Sara Maddox, Debbie Light and mother, Stacy Stringer, and the entire Head family…Jerry, Marcine, Don, Debra, and Steve. Don’s wife Angela, and her parents, were there as well. Further down we saw Clay Ramsey and his mom, and finally Mary Hubert, whom I had promised to say hello to. It was a nice break. Lee and I then continued our jog, continuing down the hill past Lindbergh and Peachtree Battle. Saw Pail McNeil near the Burger King. As the downhill turned to uphill after Peachtree Creek we grabbed some water and slowed to a walk up the long hill.

Every year I wear a different T-shirt. This year I wore the navy BERKELEY cotton tee that I got last summer in California. It wasn’t much hotter than a white or grey shirt, and it turned out to be a crowd favorite…I heard many “Hey Berkeley!” cries, once even from a guy with a microphone. Good choice.

Behind us in the Group Six start, Will accidentally tripped a female runner. She went down hard, but at least Will helped her to her feet. He and Dixon set a faster pace, and were both able to snag coveted Moes T-shirts in the second mile, without having to slow down much. Almost at the top of the first hill, just past the three mile mark Will and Dixon passed me and Lee. Will gave me his Moes shirt to carry. Both the boys had their shirts off. Will had asked if I would pin his number to his shorts, but I thought he needed a shirt. The boys continued their pace and finished with a sprint the last hundred yards to the finish, completing the race in a respectable 54 minutes. But having run without numbers, there will be no race photos to view of the boys.

Lee and I ran through the mid-point of the hill, near Houston’s and Behinana. Forgot to tell him that I once lived in the Peachtree Park Apartments…his loss. We walked up past the hospital, then ran past the four mile point across the Pershing Point interstate bridge to Equifax. We continued walking and running, spending most of the time chatting, though we were both tiring. We stuck to the open left side of the road when we ran, moving right when walking. After the short block on 10th Street the race turned right/south on Courtland…another uphill. We ran and walked more, then ran the rest of the way from the top of the last hill. We found the last mile marker, ran under the photographer’s bridge, and finished the race…one hour twenty minutes, not bad.

Saw something at the finish that I’d never noticed. At the finish there’s a guy with a bullhorn encouraging runners. Just as we finished a guy near me shouted that it was his 17th Peachtree, and the bullhorn guy made a big deal about it. The next long walk was tedious, first over to Piedmont, then on a half mile to the Civic Center. Saw Elizabeth Smith, younger sister of GA state rep Preston Smith. Good choice to have water, T-Shirts, Coke, and Poweraide along the way, but the street was narrowed by runners looking for friends, and even politicians and religious groups handing out “information”. Next year we can bypass most of this.

We made two lefts into the Civic Center parking lot, but the boys hadn’t made it to the stage to meet us. Turns out they made an uphill right on Ralph McGill instead of a right, but Will finally asked for directions. They made it in time for the Delta Ireland drawing for runners with Silver numbers, like Will. He didn’t win. We made our long slow trek back to the car. Peachtree number 21 was in the books!

No comments: