Yesterday was the inaugural running of the ING Georgia Marathon and Half. 15,000 registered runners packed the Atlanta streets on a warm day with race start temperature near 70. It was the largest inaugural marathon event in history.
Anna and I arrived in Atlanta Saturday afternoon. We went over to the Americas Mart for the race expo, and we were impressed! Aisle after aisle of vendors and sponsors. OMG the free snacks - Anna was in 3 year old bliss! I was a little surprised the expo closed at 6 - that seemed a bit early; but fortunately we got in and out just as they were closing down. Amazingly, despite 15,000 registered runners, I didn't have to wait ANY to get my race packet/number.
We shunned the traditional pasta pre-race dinner due to lack of any walkable kid-friendly options, and dined at a nearby Quiznos sub shop. The shop owner was incredibly nice, letting us stay an extra 15 minutes after his 7 pm closing time so Anna could finish. Thanks Quiznos guy!!
I woke about 2 1/2 hours before race start and went for a brief run, then grabbed a bagel and yogurt for breakfast. Then I sat on the balcony and watched downtown Atlanta come alive while stretching.
The race started at 0700, and it took me about 3 or 4 minutes to actually get across the start line. I was a little surprised that there were no corrals or staggers, but everyone seemed to move pretty well. I had given up on inching my way toward the front pre-race, and instead was in the middle with the 5 hour pacing team. So, the first mile was weaving in and out of thousands of people trying to find room to run.
After the first mile, I realized that my Garmin wasn't recording anything except time. I had set it for auto-laps at each mile, but I'm not techno savvy AT ALL, and well, I wasn't getting any distance info from it. Oh well, it became a funny looking watch...
The run was essentially uneventful. I just tried to keep a steady pace and practice hill management. I had never been on the course before raceday, but it was rather hilly. Nothing major, but some longish gradual inclines. With each hill I shortened my stride length while increasing my turnover, and that seemed to work perfect.
There was a large cheering crowd, and it was rare for there not to be someone cheering for you. I carried an American flag with me for the entire race, part of my efforts toward Operation Rebound, and that seemed to garner a lot of extra cheers from the crowd.
The final mile was about 0.6 uphill (ok, that one hurt a little) and the last 0.4 was a downhill sprint toward the finish. My chip time was 1:40:38, or 7:40 pace (275th overall, 85/1317 age group).
This was simply my long run for the week, but I was quite happy with my PR time (easy PR, since it's the first half mar for me). Most importantly, as I write this the morning after, I have a little calf soreness but no other aches or pains. Next race - Powerman Alabama in just under 3 weeks!