Though we tried to take our time, Will and I still were able to get an earlier start than we expected. Will was worn out after a long evening at the Tuesday night braves game. Due to a 50 minute rain delay, he didn’t get back home until after midnight.
Our U Group wasn’t scheduled to start until after 8:50 am, so I tried to time our arrival accordingly. We drove downtown and parked at our usual spot at
5th Street and Myrtle…about halfway between the finish line and the North Avenue MARTA Station. The weather was cool as we walked past the old First Baptist site. There was a Doraville train waiting in the station, so we hopped on. This year the Peachtree numbers had the runners first name above the number. I chuckled to myself, that it was the first time I’d ever boarded a crowded MARTA train and known everyone’s name.
The MARTA employees at the Lenox Station weren’t familiar with how foot traffic is routed for the Peachtree. Everyone was routed toward the mall. Will and I had to double back for our walk back to
Weiuca Road. In the station one lady admonished another (her friend, I think): "If you are worried about your personal space, you're in the wrong place!" The other lady replied: "I have plenty of space on a trail run." "Well, this is no trail run!"
The race had already started, and as I passed I found it interesting that few “runners” had joined Groups Z, Y, X, and W. There was a small gap we had to enter to cross Peachtree to join our U Group, behind
. Several hefty “runners” had claimed places along that curb to sit or stand. It couldn’t have been pleasant, with so many people trying to get past. Phipps Plaza
Just as we tried to cross Peachtree, the P Group was being led past, on their slow march to the starting line. It was obvious what to do: get lost in the crowd of P runners. Looking around, we could see dozens of others from further back in the pack had done the same thing. We got a few icy stares, but not many. In front of me, an old lady wearing cotton kaiki shorts was eating a large energy bar. Those things just didn’t seem to go together to me. Looking around at shoes, I noticed an old man wearing brown Merrell hiking shoes. Surprised, I looked up. Grey beard, floppy hiking hat, tie-dyed T-shirt, Kaiki hiking shorts…and a walking stick. More like a cane, really. Later I saw an old man in running attire…and two high-tech cross-country walking sticks. Two big guys were wearing heavy warm-up pants.
The P Group finally started just after 8:30, over 1:04:00 into the race. LOTS of walkers, and the rest in slow jogs. Will cut to the extreme left, where the pace was quicker. The go was so slow, I soon joined him. I settled into what would be my race routine: run pretty fast for as long as possible (a quarter mile?) then cut to the right and walk for 30 seconds or a minute. Tried to be disciplined about not walking too long. Running fast meant I passed most of the joggers, so I was doing a lot of weaving. I just hate waddling…seems like it would do more damage than running or walking. During the first mile I could feel my bad right ankle, but for most of the race my knees and ankles felt fine. Felt most of my soreness in my hips and upper thighs. No problems with my breathing or heart.
I wasn’t hot or thirsty when I reached the first water station at West Paces Ferry, but I grabbed a couple of cups anyway. Sipped some, poured one cup over my head (SO refreshing!), and poured the rest on my arms. Did this at every stop. I was wet, but cool. The water is almost always cool, which is great. At one stop I took a cup from a young girl, to be nice. That cup was WARM! The day turned out to be cooler than expected, starting out a little overcast. Even when the sun came out there was still lots of shade.
As I approached the second mile marker I moved over to the left to greet my SPdL peeps. To my surprise, the Wisenbakers weren’t there. Mrs. Light was there in her chair, attended by her oldest daughter. Nancy Kelly sat nearby, so I called her name. Angela Head told me that Don said hello. Hey Don! Saw Angela’s parents. Debra Head said something, but I was too exhausted to comprehend and respond (later I regretted that. I’ll be sure to tell Hurt). I was handed a cup of water, and Sharon Lim took my picture. Later I saw the Ramseys.
There were fewer wheelchair patients outside the
than usual. I was amazed at the number of walkers throughout the race, perhaps due to starting so far back. Very few runners, but more waddlers. Around the four mile mark some spilt water landed just right: inside the back of my left shoe. My sock absorbed the water, and was soon all wet. Felt like running on sandpaper. Surprised I didn’t have a blister. My right sock also got soaked by mile five. Shepherd Spinal Center
Ellsworth, a co-worker in the credit department, was working a water station across from Peachtree Christian Church. I didn’t see his distinctive frame at the tables (he looks like a Dr. Seuss character!). I finally spotted him taking a break behind the tables. I chatted with him for a minute. I saw the first person that he knew. I did less people-watching than ever this year, mostly due to my slow pace and spending most of the race near the middle of the road.
There were more businesses handing out things to runners this year. Wristbands and water work well, but most everything else is an inconvenience. Moes was handing out green Frisbees. About a hundred yards down the street there was a huge pile of discarded Frisbees on the side of the road. The cool thing to do is grab a giveaway, carry it down the road, then hand it to a kid. Makes their day. The only thing I grabbed was an oval MM sticker at Mellow Mushroom. Put it in my pocket (and later the T shirt bag, loaded with cold wet Powerades), but it survived the trip.
My new custom is to finish the race over to the right, near the finish line announcer. I held up two fingers on my right hand and five on my left. The announcer spoke over the loudspeaker: ”Seven Peachtrees!” I had to reply. “No…twenty five!” The announcer boomed: “Twenty Five Peachtrees!” My time was within ten seconds of last year’s. Had I not stopped at SPdL and to see Ellsworth I would’ve been under 1:14. Breaking 1:10 might’ve been hard, after starting with so many slowpokes. Still, with training I should be able to break an hour.
Didn’t take too long to find Will resting on the bank. Grabbed some peanut bars, Powerades, a Mello Yellow, and peanuts. The best giveaway is popsicles…they really cool you off. Walked around Grady Stadium and past my old
Greenwood Avenue apartment, then on back to the car. Though I’d been more apprehensive about this Peachtree than any before (my physical shape and finances), it turned out to be a good day.