Saturday morning came early as most of my running friends were making their way to downtown Jackson for the St. Patty’s 5k I loaded the car and started my 7 hour drive to Atlanta for the 2013 Publix Georgia Marathon. Getting intotown was quick and painless, only a little St. Patty’s day traffic in the way between the interstate and the World Congress Center for the expo. Publix, the main race sponsor, put up a supermarket facade leading into the expo and a mini store setup as you enter. The expo was packed with vendors and races. mostly the same as any other race through, a selection of shoes, GU, and apparel. I did find a new product that I purchased and used called the Roo Pouch. this is a magnetic pouch that clips to the waistband of your shorts so you can carry extra food or gels without having to wear a full race belt. I’ll have a full review soon but the bottom line is that I loved the idea. Fast, smooth packet pickup, great looking race shirt, and a great expo. 5 stars for the expo!
After leaving the expo we left the downtown area to a dinner meet up with Further Faster Forever, an online running and fitness community, at a local restaurant called Figo Pasta. It was a great dinner, great food, and incredible athletes all preparing for either the half or full marathon the next morning.
Race day started great. We made it downtown and to the parking garage at the Phillips arena where we had arranged a free parking pass without any traffic or time issues. A quick walk just a few blocks away and we were in the starting festival area. The first thing on the agenda was a 6:15 meet up with a handful of members from team #runDisney. We all met in front of the World of Coca Cola, chatted a little, took a quick picture, and wished each other a magical race.
Up next was 6:30 meetup with the Marathon Maniacs. this was my first race since joining the Asylum and had a great time meeting with fellow Maniacs. After a few pictures and well wishes we made our way to the starting corrals and awaited the start.
The race started downtown on Marietta Street next to the CNN center. one thing I really enjoyed about this course were the several college campuses we ran through, the first of which was Georgia State university. it was still dark in the first few miles so it was hard to appreciate the landmarks we passed by such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood home and several Victorian houses around Inman Park. The race was a little more crowded at the beginning than I would have liked in the opening, but I was enjoying the comments on my costume.
The crowd thinned along the streets quickly after mile 7 when the half marathon course split and suddenly I was on the road with a much smaller crowd as the sun began to rise in front of me. We ran through Agnes Scott College and through Decatur. As I passed the 13.1 mark I noticed 2 things. The first was how good I still felt despite all of the hills along the course. The second was that I noticed the clock, 1:54:48. That was not only on pace for a PR, but a shattering PR and on a difficult course to boot. It was decision time, I was caught off guard and wasn’t planning on that pace but decided I was going to work for the next 13.1 miles. The focus came off of the costume and was reset to keeping pace.
I hit mile 22 at 3:12:23, still on pace for a 3:50:00 finish with just four miles to go. As I passed through the Georgia Tech campus and in to the final 5k I felt the breakdown (and quite possibly the beer from mile 9) starting to slow me down and the final miles became brutal. As I entered back in to the downtown area I was struggling to maintain a run. I was battling the wall and doing my best to push through to the finish line. As I came around the final turn and the announcer said my name I watched the clock tick by as I crossed underneath. I conquered my most challenging course to date and finished with a 5 minute PR!
Overall, this was a great course (despite the hills). The crowd support along the course was incredible from beginning to end. I love that the finisher’s medal had the St. Patrick’s Day reference. The Publix team did great work putting together a fantastic race.
Finish time – 3:56:41
Overall – 426/1834
Men – 342/1182
Division – 30/118