Out of all the marathons I have run, I can't believe it has taken me 92 marathons to run the Publix Georgia Marathon. I mean, my twin sister lives in Atlanta, so I have a free place to stay and a ride anywhere I need to go, so this is one race I can do fairly cheap.
I was pretty excited when I found out the Marathon Maniacs Pace Team landed a spot pacing the race, sharing duties with a few of the local pacers. I was wanting to pace the 4:30 group, but when the 4:30 group was taken by the local pacers, I was happy to take the 4:45 spot. I had heard the Atlanta course was super hilly and with just running a tough marathon the weekend before in Kentucky, I was thrilled to take a slower pace.
Wanting to take the minimum amount of PTO from work, I decided to work on Friday and take the red-eye to Atlanta Friday night. My plane left at midnight and I arrived in Atlanta at 5:30am on Saturday morning.
My sister was good enough to come pick me up from the airport and we headed back to her house where I was able to get a much needed 1 1/2 hour nap and a shower before taking my shift at the pacer booth when the expo opened at 10:00am.
My twin, Angel and I leaving for the Expo.
I got to the expo just before the door opened and met a few of the local pacers. I picked up my pacer shirt and sign (we were not able to wear our Maniac pacer shirts, we had to wear the Georgia Marathon shirts), got instructions from the Georgia Marathon pacer coordinator and got ready for the doors to open.
Once the doors opened, our booth got very busy, very fast. It is always fun talking to first time marathoners and half marathoners. They always have the excitement and fear of waiting to see how their months of training will pay off on race day. As a pacer, we try to calm the fears and feed the excitement.
We encouraged first timers and seasoned runners alike to run with a pace group to help them achieve their goals, be it a BQ, a PR, or just to finish. I am a pretty good pacer, but even after 93 marathons, I benefit from running with a pace group when trying to reach my own goals.
Entrance to the Publix Georgia Marathon Expo
Shatora, Me, Sabrina and Brenda working the pacer booth!
Tony (MM #3) and Chris (MM#2) get a selfie at the pacer booth with me (MM #1975)!
Just a few of our Maniac and Fanatic pacers at the Expo!
After the expo, my sister and I walked to the Start/Finish area in Centennial Olympic Park to find the bricks we bought during the building of the park for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. We found them quite fast (area 166). It was neat to see my mom's brick too. She and my sister volunteered at the Games and just had a blast.
My mom's brick sits above the brick belonging to my sister and I. As twins we had to share everything, even a brick! Ha Ha!
After the park we had a nice lunch then headed back to my sister's house. The red-eye flight was catching up to me at this point and I needed a nap.
I woke up in time to head out to the Maniac/Pacer dinner that Joe (one of our pacer's) organized. It was at a really good Italian place called Noni's. They had a wonderful menu that didn't break the bank. I had a delicious Seafood Scampi for $14.
We had a wonderful table out on the patio. The weather was so nice, but we knew at any moment the rain was coming.
Great shot of our dinner taken by Joe Raymond! You can see how pretty it was.
Selfie/group photo at the Maniac/Pacer dinner! Joe's face in this photo makes me laugh.
I got home from the dinner around 9:00pm and started putting my race gear together when I realized I had not run! I am a streak runner (running at least one mile a day) and with 205 days under my belt (at that time), I had to get my run in! So, I changed my clothes and headed out into the dark at 9:30pm with no headlamp or flashlight for one short mile out and back on Idlewood Road!
I could NOT give up the streak! One mile in the dark and my streak is safe!
I finally got my stuff together and got a little sleep before the alarm went off at 4:30am.
I woke up and looked outside. It was already pouring rain. I was having deja vu of my last race, where I ran the entire race in the rain. It seemed it would be the same here in Atlanta.
On the train not to happy to get out in that rain! Ha Ha!
My sister drove me to the MARTA and I caught the train to the start. I made it just in time to the Maniac/Fanatic photo then I quickly headed to the port-a-potty before dropping my gear off at the gear check.
Maniacs and Fanatics at the Start
My awesome and fast friend Brian and I at the Start! I hope we are neighbors soon!
Now, this was a first. The race started at 7:00am and at 6:30am there were NO LINES at the port-a-potties! In fact the one I used, didn't even have the toilet paper opened yet. It was clean and didn't smell. I was the first one to use it. I have never been to a race that 30 minutes before the race, you were not waiting in a long line let alone be the first one in the port-a-potty. It was awesome!
As the rain fell, I must admit, I camped out in that port-a-potty, got myself and my gear bag ready to check. It was warm and dry in there and I didn't want to leave (a phrase you will never hear leave my lips in regards to a pot-a-potty again), but I had to get to my corral. I felt a little guilty about staying in there so long, but was happy when I opened the door and there still wasn't anyone waiting.
I gathered my stuff and headed to gear check, then to my corral. I chatted with the people and tried to calm some nerves. Fellow Maniac and friend Heather Shoemaker showed up and said she wanted to run with our group too. Heather is a good pacer herself and I was glad to have her there. I was supposed to have a co-pacer, but she didn't show up and my Garmin was doing wacky things when it came to the pace window, so I had to do things the old fashion way and rely on nothing but feel and the time. Heather made a great co-pacer for most of the race!
My 4:45 group at the start!
Let's talk about the Georgia Marathon course for a minute. Every person I spoke to said that the course was beautiful, but hilly. Living in Utah, my idea of hilly might be different than someone from Florida. Let it be known, the Georgia Marathon course is freaking hilly!
Trying to pace on so many rolling hills can be challenging as you are rarely running an even pace. You slow down going up hill and gain a little speed on the downhill. An experienced pacer knows how to balance the two to keep on pace. This is one great thing about the Marathon Maniacs Pace Team. Each pacer must have run at least 10 marathons (to pace the full) or 10 half marathons (to pace the half). There is A LOT of experience there.
The course also lived up to its reputation when it came to scenery. It ran through some beautiful parks and neighborhoods as well as some historical landmarks. My favorite spots included Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth and resting place and Little 5 Points (a place I spent a lot of time at in college).
Martin Luther King Jr. has always been a hero to me. Running past his (along with his wife Coretta's) final resting place was humbling.
We also ran by Ebenezer Baptist Church, where MLK preached.
These "shotgun homes" were so cute! They are still private residences.
We ran past MLK's birth home as well.
Little 5 Points is my old stomping ground! My good friends Eric and Madonna own Criminal Records. I remember when that store was tiny!
I held on to my group for a good part of the race and one by one they fell of the pace or took of and left me and by mile 23, I had picked up some new people to push through. Running the slower pace meant I had a lot of energy in those last miles.
I came up on a first time marathoner named Lawanda. She was hurting, but looking strong. I ran with her a bit and tried to get her mind off the last couple of miles. She had given up brownies and could not wait to have one waiting for her at the finish as her reward. I loved that!
I finished a little before her but waited at the finish line to see her finish. There is something so sweet about seeing someone finish their first marathon. I still well up for them when I see them cross the finish line. I know how hard they worked to get there and I think of all the joy and friendships I have made though running and am happy to think, if they stick with it, all of what I have enjoyed can be theirs too!
I finished in 4:44:33. I was pretty excited! Photo by Kate Stoker
Thanks Kate for getting such fun shots! Photo by Kate Stoker
So fun to see some Maniac Divas out there. Kate, Karen and I got a pic together before picking up our medals! Photos first, medals second! Ha Ha! Photo by Kate Stoker
I am wet, but I got the job done!
My pacing sign, Garmin and medal.
My splits. 4:45 pace= 10:52 minute mile pace. I was pretty much right where I needed to be.
After the race I went back to my sister's house, took a hot shower and a nap and later that afternoon we went to a movie and then to her ex-husband's house for dinner. I was so happy to see my sister's dog Ace still kicking! When I was home for Christmas, I thought that was the last time I would see him (he is almost 19 years old), so I was so happy to snuggle him again.
Ace eats like a king! I am feeding him homemade sardine treats!
The next morning I slept in. I was pretty tired, but I got up around 10:30 and got a great recovery run in before grabbing some breakfast and heading off to kill some time before heading back to the airport.
Streak day 207 in the books!
I an so glad I got the opportunity to pace at the Georgia Marathon this year. Not only is it a great and well organized race, I got to pace with the best pace team in the country (thanks Sabrina), I got to see my sister and some great friends, I knocked Georgia off my states list, and I got to go to Zesto for a Nut Brown Crown!!!!!!!!
I haven't had a Nut Brown Crown since college! BOOYA!!
The medal detail was great! I love that it has all the neighborhoods on it. The shirt was not the best though.
The Publix Georgia Marathon is a big city marathon with a small town feel. I loved it, hills and all!
State #26 Check!