Thursday, November 28, 2013

Number 44 - 2013 Atlanta Half Marathon


It is not suppose to be this cold in Atlanta for Thanksgiving!

It was a crazy cold day for the 2013 Atlanta Half Marathon.  More than 8000 people signed up to do this race but the race results show that 6728 actually did the race.  Do you think the others basically said "too cold" and just stayed in bed?  Maybe they're the smart ones  : )

Although the race did not start until 7:30 AM, I volunteered to help out with crowd control prior to the start so I had to be there by 5:15ish.  Of course when I signed up for this I had no idea it would be this cold.  This meant besides figuring out what to wear for a race in these temps I also had to have more layers on for the two hours or so in the freezing cold before the start. This actually worked out well as the organizers wanted participants to have that top layer and take it off just before the race started as a donation to folks who have a need for some warm clothes.  This was good - the Atlanta Track Club volunteers would pick the items up, the ATC would wash them and donate them via

So there I was at 5:15, with a lined, hooded jacket and a fleece scarf over my race clothes looking for the volunteer check in tent.  But first, needed to use the porta-potty.  I was in luck, there were hundreds of them and of course at 5:15 there were no lines.  Life is good!  Oh wait a minute, they all had zip lock straps on them and I have nothing that will cut through.  Hmmmm...  Continued to look, got lucky found one not locked!  Great!  Took care of business and quickly discovered NO toilet paper!  Oh great!  No one around, in the dark, in a freezing porta-potty at 5:15 AM...

Exited the porta-potty a few minutes later minus one fleece scarf whose destiny served a different purpose.  I guess it was a good thing it was cold enough to have that scarf!  Lesson learned, again, always check first...

Next found the volunteer check-in tent.  This year was a bit different, it was definitely more secure.  I suspect this is byproduct of the Boston Marathon bombing.  This year we were issued credentials to be worn on a lanyard while working our volunteer shift.

Met the rest of the volunteers for Corral "E" and we moved into location.  We were freezing, especially toes and fingers.  I tell you, we are not use to 23 degrees in Atlanta!  As the 7:30 start approached I shed my jacket over the fence and we started moving closer to the starting line.  Was not quite sure what to do with the lanyard & credential so I just flipped it over my back and forgot about it.  Closer and closer we got to the start.  The start was under the Olympic Rings from the 1996 Summer Olympics:

And we were off!  The first couple miles, as usually, were very crowded.  But that is to be expected in any big race - it's just part of it.

A couple of things happened in this race that I had not seen before:

The first thing, because of the freezing temperature there was a pretty significant ice problem around the water stations.  Inevitably water gets spilled, this is normal.  However, the road was cold enough and the air was cold enough for that to form ice.  Much caution had to be exercised when going through these areas.  Again, in the deep south, we are just not use to this  : )

Second, I was moving along the course, minding my own business, and a runner (who I do not know) pulls up besides me and says "why weren't there enough parking spaces for the race"?  My initial reaction was, she's not talking to me, she must be talking to someone else.  Nope, she was taking to me.  Her tone was not a making conversation on the course tone, she was complaining to me that she had to pay $10 for parking.  This puzzled me, why was she picking on me?   About a half mile or so later I figured it out - she saw the credential on the lanyard that I flipped over my back when I switched from volunteer to race participant.  I did not have have the chance to tell her - I'm just a volunteer.

And last, I'm still not sure if I should have laughed at this or felt sorry for these people.  This happened in between mile 3 and mile 4 in the half marathon.  A little background first - there were two races today - a half marathon (13.1 miles) and a 5K (3.1) miles.  They were different courses with different starting areas and the half started at 7:30 and the 5K started at 8:00.  Well these three people were talking to one of the course monitors (volunteer who makes sure car traffic does not interfere) and basically were asking where the finish line was.  I think they were 5Kers who for whatever reason started with the half marathoners at 7:30!  They expected the race to end a 3.1 miles.  I have no idea how that one was ever resolved.

It was a good race.  It was a really good workout.  I walked the entire race in 2:56, had an average heart rate of 135, and according to my Garmin, burned 1410 calories.  That meant I could enjoy that turkey dinner even more!  And as usually each finisher gets a medal:

2013 Atlanta Half Marathon medal

Also, the race organizer - Atlanta Track Club - as a token of their appreciation for volunteering, gave us each a commemorative embroidered jacket.  Much appreciated!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Race 43 - Chickamauga Battlefield Half Marathon

For race #43 in my quest to do 100 races before retiring (from work), I did the Chickamauga Battlefield Half Marathon.

The battlefield is about 10,000 acres and is located in northwest Georgia.  Prior to the race I did read up on  this Civil War battle and the facts about it were in my mind virtually the entire time during the race:

A three day battle in September 1863

125,000 Soldiers (60,000 Union  65,000 Confederate)

Estimated Casualties: 34,624

1,657 killed
9,756 wounded
4,757 missing & captured

2,312 killed
14,674 wounded
1,468 missing & captured

While on the course I tried to imagine what that must have been like for those soldiers.  I also wondered what they would think of us 150 years later doing a foot race where all of this took place.

The Race:

Since Mary & I drove up the night before it was no problem getting to the race on time (so glad we drove the 125 miles the day before instead of the morning of :)  Had plenty of time to look around - one of things I noticed, the Civil War cannon - I had heard they fire the cannon for the start of the race (and they did).

It was a chilly 29 degrees at the start of the race - think everyone wanted to get the race started just to warm up.

and we were off..

There was so much to see and read on this course. I found myself stopping and taking pictures of things that explain what was going on in the location during the battle.  I really want to come back here again (when it's warmer & not a race).  However, following are a few of the pics I took:

Baldwin's Brigade

Sept. 19, 1863 3 PM
3 men killed, 4 men wounded, 3 horses killed, 3 wounded
typically do not see things like this during a race
so many cannons
As you can tell, I'm not really "racing" in these races.  I do them for exercise and they actually are fun.  I walked this entire race in 2:57 (about 13:30 per mile) so it was a a good workout.  I do want to come back and really spend some time taking in all this history.