4th of July...
A day of remembrance for our nation's independence. A day commemorating the adoption of our nation's independence. And yet this is also a day where many people look to take a day or three out of their busy lives to live a little during the summer. Go anywhere in the USA on this day and you will happen upon fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches and ceremonies.
However for a few of us, say 60,000, we decide to postpone the days activities and festivities a few more hours by participating in the world's largest 10K.
I have been running off and on in this event since 1994. The last couple of years I have not been around in Atlanta, as I am usually spending time with Patsy and her family for the holiday. This year I was not interested in doing the race because I wanted to just have fun on the 4th. It is interesting to see how you fall into certain decisions based off of how things pan out in life, and furthermore how you look back on that experience. I had made plans out of town for the 4th of July yet again this year, and I was really happy about it. The last two years with graduate school and my job situation not constant, I really have been looking forward to times when I can have 3-4+ days off and NO responsibilities, other than to myself and my well being. About a week and a half prior to the holiday, plans suddenly changed and I was no longer going out of town. I was going to be sitting in Atlanta, while most of the people I would have made plans with were now doing other things.
In search of a solution to this social and mental dilemma, I decided to head back inward to me and see what would make me happy, what I would enjoy doing. Next thing I knew, I had not one, but TWO Peachtree Road Race numbers in my possession. I kinda felt like a scalper. On one side of the cardboard it would have said, "I need a PRR number" and the other side said, "I have PRR numbers." :)
A friend of mine from grad school had a friend who needed a number, so I sold it to her. Training had been picking up in the last month or so, but I had not been doing any speed work for shorter distances, and I just got over a foot injury. What to do? How about just do the race, and ENJOY it. Any of you who have been reading my posts over the last few years know, while in the end I always enjoy my athletic experiences, I don't always enjoy them while they are occurring. I needed to return to my roots, and find why I started doing this in the first place... because I enjoyed it.
Pre - Race
This is about the best pre - race I have ever had! 4th of July was on a Monday this year, so between leaving work early Friday for the weekend and the 4th following the weekend, I tried just to enjoy life and have some fun. Got some workouts in over the weekend and met up with a few friends, nothing too crazy. Woke up at a decent hour Monday morning, as opposed to getting up at O'Dark Thirty. I only live about 3.5 miles away from the start line. Add to that my grad school parking deck is about 1/2 mile away from the start. And my wave did not start till 8:55am. I think at that point the ONLY downside was the temperature quickly rising. Got to the race site with about 30 min to go before my start wave began, and so I stretched out and got to my race corral. By that time, my wave was making its way to the start line. I was taking in all the scenery around me. Families running together, friends catching up with each other, the patriotic costumes, our nation's finest representing the different armed forces. The energy was amazing. The funk I had been in for the past week and a half seemed to melt away. As we approached the start line, the announcer started to fire up our wave, not that we needed much help, we were all pretty pumped already.
All I was wanting to do was finish at a comfortable pace. The elevation is nearly all downhill for the first three miles until you arrive at the Colonial Homes Hill and Cardiac Hill. I really tried to hold back the crotchety old man issues with this being a race and not a fun run (something to do with the fact that being in the back of this race has lots more of the fun run/walk types :). Everything felt pretty good, legs got a bit tight on the final downhill to mile marker 3, but lengthened my stride and it seemed to help out.
Then I hit what I would like to call "The Wall." This was a combination of a few things, 1)runners taking a break walking up the hills, 2) walkers still walking, and 3) having about 55,000 people ahead of me. I think between miles 3-5 I ran more from side to side across the 7 lanes of Peachtree St. than I did running forward! Saw some of my friends at the Fur Bus hangout (for those of you who don't know, Fur Bus is kinda like a limo transport company where you can get some swanky buses and use to them to transport you to events, and filled with alcohol.). The crowds this year the last mile were great. So much cheering and at 10th St., it was at least 8-10 people deep cheering, as if we were the parade procession through Atlanta.
After the race I went looking for a couple of my friends at the Alphabet balloons, but could not find them. Turns out they turned to walking about halfway into the race due to the heat and so I actually finished before them. I headed back up into midtown to catch MARTA back up to Buckhead. I saw Mary at her new job (she is a masseuse). I was gonna hit her up for one of the free post race massages that they were giving out, but the problem was that I had finished so late in the morning, that they had already almost packed everything up and took it back into their building. Oh well, it was good to see her anyways :)
As far as looking back on this holiday weekend of mine, things definitely did not turn out as I wanted to, or intended. However, I made the best of it and decided to make up for it by doing something that I enjoyed doing. And I am glad I did. They say in times like these you need to keep yourself preoccupied and busy. I disagree to some extent. While I think you should keep living your life to the best of your ability, you also need to focus on your experiences. Without that combination you may never know who you truly are or what you want out of life. Needless to say no matter what the reason for remembering this particular 4th of July over any other I have or will experience, it will be remembered. I hope all of you had a great and memorable 4th of July.