Our family had a blast visiting Atlanta. We stayed downtown by Centennial Olympic Park, which was absolutely beautiful. My kids loved the children’s museum, the Georgia Aquarium, and riding the enormous Ferris wheel that is Skyview Atlanta. We also had a nice visit with papa, who drove up from Florida to meet us, as well as some old friends. (In my case, very old. I met up with two of my former middle school classmates. We hadn’t seen each other since the seventh grade!)
The Race: I keep hearing runners talk about how much more ‘interesting’ hilly courses are, and I honestly thought that they must be full of crap, because why in the world would you choose to run a more difficult course if you had options? After completing the Georgia Marathon, I definitely have a better understanding of this mindset. While I probably would have enjoyed a flat terrain just as much, the hills did, in fact, keep this run interesting. The nice thing about running up a steep slope is that you’ll always get to run down it on the other side—and downhills are very nice 🙂
The marathon did a very nice job of taking runners through the various Atlanta neighborhoods. We got a tour of downtown as well as the surrounding suburbs and college campuses, some nice parks, and some beautiful houses. I appreciated the cities that really went all out on their signs as well. (Decatur, you were awesome.) Overall, no complaints about this course.
The starting corrals were another story, however. I’m not sure what logic was used in assigning runners to their corral, but it did not work well. I spent the first mile of my race weaving in and out of walkers and joggers, which was both frustrating and physically exhausting. I was still passing runners in the ‘A’ and ‘B’ corrals during the last miles of the race. I’m not sure if this had any real effect on my overall run, but for a larger marathon, it’s an area to work on. I appreciated the number of aid stations on the course, but I do with that they had been consistent on when they gave water or Gatorade. I found myself stopping to ask what was in the cups fairly frequently. (Again, a minor thing, but worth noting.)
This was a very enjoyable race. It was very easy to get from the nearby hotels to the start line, everything at the expo was well organized, and age group winners got chocolate for their prize… and chocolate makes up for many minor annoyances.
My Race: I had psyched myself up for this to be a very challenging marathon and was prepared to run the course close to the 4:00 mark. Atlanta is hilly, and this definitely was a tough race, but the marathon wasn’t at all as ‘bad’ as I had expected. The constant ups and downs gave me something to focus on and added an element of strategy to the race. (As opposed to my usual ‘run fast and try to hold on.’)
We had near- perfect weather as well: cool, and just a little windy. Fortunately, this was a loop, so no one got hit by said wind for very long. The hills did take their toll during the last mile or two. Especially when spectators continued to yell, “This is the last one!” (It never was.) I gave up in the last stretch and started walking up them, but I still finished the race with my second- fastest time, which was very unexpected. This marathon has definitely given me confidence to run more varied terrains, and I’m really glad that we chose it for our Georgia run.
** Race Highlights: This was a fun, scenic course. I’ve never been to Atlanta, so I really enjoyed running through downtown, some of the neighboring suburbs, Emory University, and the like. It was a pretty course with no real ‘dead’ spots, and I thought that the hills kept it interesting.
** The Downside: My biggest beef with this race were the starting corrals. Also, if you aren’t used to hills, this course would be a killer.
Sub 4:00 State #5, BQ State #4
Finish Time: 3:36:04
Overall Place Within My Gender: 18th/ 472 (2rd in my division)
Favorite Race Day Song: ‘Raise Your Glass’ by Pink
Total Training Miles: 1747