Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Let There Be No Distance Between Us

A Georgia Half Marathon Race Report

Back in November/December-ish of 2011,  our dear friend Lisa from Arizona surprised Dee Dee and I with the request to come to Georgia in March of 2012 and race the Georgia Half Marathon.  If you remember from my Ironman Arizona race report, Lisa tag teamed with Dee Dee as my sherpa extraordinaire.  I was all too happy and excited to return the favor.  Lisa dialed up our mutual friend Karen, also from Arizona, and together, they got on a plane Friday and headed to Atlanta.

Daddy duty required me to be at my son’s soccer match, and Dee Dee headed to the airport to pick up the girls. Shortly after half time, Dee Dee, Lisa, and Karen arrived at the high school.  The score was zero to zero.  They hadn’t missed much.  The game ended in a zero to zero tie and went into overtime.  Literally, one second before the end of the first overtime period, the opposing team scored, and that was how the game ended.

Dee Dee and I put our heads together.  Atlanta is a busy restaurant town.  We wanted to go eat someplace nice but would not require a long wait.  It occurred to me that the little restaurant at the airport would probably be ideal.  The food was good, and it was hardly ever packed.  I think we waited about fifteen minutes before being seated.  Elevations specializes in martinis topped with frozen nitrogen.  No, you don’t drink the nitrogen, but it is a kinda cool effect.

girls_eating_dinner

After a few drinks and a nice dinner, we headed home.  Dee Dee thought it would be fun to take Karen and Lisa to the local dance club for a bit.  Queue the sinister music.  Letting Karen and Lisa out into that type of environment is a riot, and potentially dangerous. Lisa went out onto the dance floor and asked the local hip hop homie to show her some of his moves.  The rumor that we have video of this “lesson” is entirely unsubstantiated. I do remember, rather vividly, Karen laughing hysterically before moving to the other side of the dance floor for a better view.

The highlight of the night was introducing Lisa and Karen to our local celebrity “Little Outlaw”, a.k.a.  “Hellz yea!”  This old guy doesn’t have a rhythmic bone in his body, yet he stomps around out there on the dance floor so much, he has to have a wardrobe change.  He even came by the table to spend some quality time with Karen and Lisa.  How do you top that?  I’ll tell you, an autographed "Little Outlaw” post card, resplendent with glossy photo.

Sometime in the wee hours of our morning (still early on Arizona time), we closed it down and headed back to the house.  I would have liked to have gotten up in the morning and rode my bike, but that didn’t happen.  I just wasn’t feeling it.  Plus, I wanted to make breakfast with Dee Dee for our guests before heading out to the expo.

Breakfast consisted of eggs, bacon, grits, and biscuits, of course.  We managed to roll out of the house for the expo shortly before lunch.  On the way down. Dee Dee told me there were a large number of events going on in Atlanta, and we had better go in the back way.  Having raced in the area before, we got off at Northside Drive and went to the World Congress Center on the back roads.  No problemo!  We did have a bit of fun finding a spot to park in the parking garage, but that’s just part of the fun.

Last year, the expo was inside the dome.  This year, they had it in a huge conference center.

expoPublix set up a mini-supermarket at the entrance to the expo, and it was chock full of their Greenwise product line.  Last year, I sent Publix an email letting them know how much I loved their sponsorship of the Georgia Half Marathon.  This year, they did not disappoint.

Naturally, they put packet pickup at the back of the expo, and that was fine with us.  We headed to the back to pick up our race numbers and schwag.  The race shirts were really good this year, and they even exchanged Dee Dee’s to a different size.  We spent the next couple of hours browsing the various vendors at the expo.

girls_expo

Dee Dee and I basically escaped from the expo unscathed, and no, I didn’t restrict Dee Dee’s shopping.  It just worked out that way.  Lisa and Karen (sshhhhhhhh!) weren’t so lucky.  I did learn something though.  Those little earbuds (from two different manufacturers) that are supposed to stay in your ears no matter what?  Ummm, yea.  They don’t work on me.

We stopped at Taco Mac on the way home, much to Karen’s delight.  I tried to eat lite, just a beer and some wings, but somehow managed to stuff myself, none the less.  After making it back to the house, Dee Dee and the girls went out shopping (again), and I hit the bike for an hour.  I wanted to get in the full 1.5 hour workout, but my legs just weren’t having it.  With a half marathon on the horizon, I thought it a good idea to cut it short.

The girls stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and I whipped up a late dinner of Lasagna.  I made a side of tomato slices topped with fresh mozzarella, basil, and balsamic vinaigrette.  It was delicious.  I ate just enough to tide me over until morning.

The alarm clock was set to go off at 4:30 AM.  Lisa got up at 4:00 AM (1 AM her time), and Dee Dee got up around 4:10.  I don’t think the alarm ever went off.  Ten minutes later, I hopped up and began to get my stuff ready for the race.  I put on my black Mizuno shorts and my ING race shirt from 2007.  I opted not to wear my Vibrams for the race.  My calves were still really sore from my last Vibrams run.  I had a cup of coffee to go with my usual breakfast of consisting of a bagel and yogurt.  Right on time, we piled into the car and headed for down town.

Last year, it was getting pretty crowded by the time I arrived downtown.  This year, I pulled off the interstate on the HOV exit, proceeded right to a parking lot and parked one block from the race start.  I love auspicious starts. After paying for our parking spot, we headed down to Centennial Park.  The lines at the “Handy Cans” were a bit longer this year, but we managed to get in and our pretty quickly.  With over an hour to kill, we amused ourselves around the park.

quartet

We kidnapped some poor kid and made him take a picture of us in exchange for his freedom.

pre-race-park

Shortly after that, we went off in search of our corrals.  Lucky for me, they were in the same place as last year, and I knew right were to go.  We found a nice wall to sit on at Corral “C” while we waited for the race to start.  Lisa thought this picture of us chillaxin was appropriate, and it was.

feet

Twenty minutes before the race start, somebody who shall remain nameless decided that she needed to go potty again.  Of to the “Handy Can” lines we went, again.  I took that opportunity to go too, cause I’m just smart like that.  Using my superior intellect, I calculated that our corrals would be on the far side of the intervening hotels.  We took a side street back up to the road and came out at Corral “J”.  Dee Dee and I were supposed to be in “M”, Lisa in “L”, and Karen was seeded in “K”.  She thinks she’s all fast or sumfin.  We all decided to pile into Corral “K” with Karen.

It wasn’t long before the national anthem was sung.  The race announcer was doing a decent job of keeping the crowd entertained and informed as to how much time was left before the race start.  We heard the cannon go off, but since we were standing next to the 1/4 mile sign, we had no expectations of getting started anytime soon.  Still, we shuffled forward with the rest of the crowd.  I think it took us ten minutes before we finally crossed the starting line and began to run.

start

The walk to the starting line is slightly up hill, but from the start, there is a nice long down hill section that you can use to get warmed up.  I ran with Dee Dee, and though I felt like she was pushing the pace a bit, I let her feel free to set whatever pace she wanted.

We covered the first three miles rather quickly.  As a matter of fact,  I think Dee Dee did it faster than she ran her last 5K.  The down hill certainly helped, but I was concerned that she might have started out too fast.  At about the 3.5 mile mark, we crossed the bridge over Freedom Parkway, and Lisa snapped a gorgeous picture of the sun coming up on the Atlanta skyline.

atlanta

It was fun chatting with LIsa and Karen as we ran.  We pointed out some things we knew about on the race course, and we even picked up a knowledgeable tour guide that pointed out the Martin Luther King Center, Ebeneezer Baptist Church, and Dr. King’s birth home.

mlking_church

On the approach to Inman Park at mile 6, I felt like Dee Dee was making good time.  Karen and Lisa kept her entertained, and she had a smile on her face.  Near The Carter Center, the half way timing mat was beeping as runners crossed.  Lisa and Karen took off to see who would cross the mat first.  Dee Dee and I laughed as we jogged after them.

One of the things I can say about this race, I didn’t realize how hilly it was when I PRed last year.  I kept telling the girls that I didn’t think there were many more hills, only to have the race course prove me wrong.  Towards the end of the race, it became my standard joke to say:

It’s all downhill from here.

Karen developed a special “stink eye” in response to that phrase :-)

karen_and_her_sign

Karen’s favorite sign of the day

Sometime before we headed into Piedmont Park area, there as a young man on the side walking his bunny on a leash.  LOL…  Along comes a non-racer jogging with his dog (on a leash), and the dog just about had a brand new chew toy.

We crossed by PIedmont Park before turning up parallel to Peachtree for the uphill climb to Georgia Tech.  Once we passed the stadium, it was a short 1.1 miles to the finish line.  I think Lisa and Dee Dee took this stretch shortly after passing the university.

deedee_lisa

Dee Dee stayed pretty strong to the finish.  Running down Marietta Street back to Centennial Park is always the fun part.  We passed a drum corp, and the Hawks cheerleaders.  That last one was for me.  I told Dee Dee I could hear the finish.  Right before the left turn to the finish line, Dee Dee wanted to walk again.  I took her hand, and together we ran to and crossed the finish line together.  I stopped under the finish line to get Teh Bug a Happy Anniversary kiss.

Mission accomplished.

Dee Dee finished in 3:19:08,. a thirty or so second PR from her race in 2007.  Not bad, not bad at all since her training had been somewhat inconsistent.  I know she was happy, and that’s all that mattered.

After picking up our medals and a bottle of water, we paused for a few victory photos.

finish

finish_wes_deedee

On the way out of the finish area, we picked up a bottle of cold chocolate milk.  Chocolate milk is excellent post race recovery food.  If you aren’t careful, however, the sugar in the milk can really do a number on your stomach.  I handled mine OK, but it didn’t agree with Dee Dee.

We grabbed Karen and LIsa’s bag at the drop tent before heading to the food tent for our grab bag.  I wasn’t really all that interested in food.  I brought the bag home, but didn’t touch a thing.  Lisa mentioned that she would like a post race burger.  We headed back to Taco Mac (one closer to home) and had a nice post race lunch.  Taco Mac makes a really nice burger.

burger

By the time we got home around 1 PM, we were exhausted.  After getting cleaned up, we all passed out for a nice long nap.  I think we woke up around 3 PM.  Karen, Lisa, Dee Dee and I sat out on the deck, drinking tea and coffee and enjoying the beautiful day.  All too soon, 5 PM rolled around, and ti was time to take Karen and Lisa back to the airport to catch their flight.  With a lot of hugs and laughs, we said our good byes, then headed home to pick up Matthew for a late anniversary dinner.

I want to thank both Karen and Lisa, not only for taking and sharing these wonderful pictures, but also coming all the way to Atlanta from Arizona to make this race so special.  I love Facebook and all, but blogging was and is the main source for all the wonderful friendships I have developed over the years through social media.  Without, I would have never met such wonderful and special friends as Karen and Lisa.  I can’t wait to see them again.

and that my friends, is the conclusion to another wonderful memory.

Wes

11 comments:

LBTEPA said...

what a wonderful weekend :) Happy anniversary and congrats on DeeDee's PR!

Molly said...

What a fun trip!!!! Looks like you all had a blast!

Stefanie Frank said...

So $#*&#ing awesome!

I agree with you wholeheartedly about the blogging.

You all ROCK and I agree thanks Lisa for these pictures!

Kim said...

wes, i love this. so much fun!

Lily on the Road said...

AWESOME! and I'm SO JEALOUS!

You guys had such a great time and thanks for sharing the photo's...that was one packed like sardines corral at the start of the race...holy doodle!

Yup, I totally agree about the power of blogging and FB...one of these days I'll be landing on your doorstep for a race or tri or sumphfin!!

Good Job you guys, way to Rock the Peach!!!

Lisa said...

Sounds like so much fun!

Carolina John said...

That's fantastic! I could go for some Taco Mac now. Great race, great time with friends, none of us could ask for much more.

MAJ said...

What a great race report and a great trip!

Michelle said...

What a great day for all of you! Thanks for sharing the details with us : )

it's all about pace said...

nice weekend and nicely documented.

please pass the seet potato fries.

:-)

Smithposts... said...

What a fun read! Congrats to you, Dee Dee, Lisa and Karen... and Happy Anniversary!