My 2nd Marathon: Publix Atlanta and what a party it was

Saturday's Shakeout Run
        The Publix Atlanta Marathon was one of the most amazing running experiences of my life and it had nothing to do with my finishing time. For me it all started over coffee back in November. We had heard about this Atlanta based group called Team Take Down Publix. The idea is to have the most African-American marathoners finish a race...EVER! More than 400 light, dark and milk chocolate runners.
    Publix is the only marathon in Atlanta and it has a reputation as one of the hardest and hilliest courses in the south. So, why would I want to run it? Simple: peer pressure. Back to that coffee in November. After a Sunday morning group run at Buffalo road park and on the Neuse river trail,... we all met for coffee. Suddenly, there's a dozen people who say they'll run the hardest race in the south, there's a Facebook instant message group and a t-shirt design for CRuSH -- Carolina RunSquad Heroes. At least one person blames me for starting all of this but it's not my fault.
This is from that day in November where it all began

    The number of local runners headed to Atlanta soon doubles with 50 from the Tar Heel State.
    I have to admit.... it sounds like an awesome weekend already, right?
The Car pooling Crew From NC to GA
    Fast forward 18 weeks to race weekend. We're carpooling into Atlanta. Hotels are all set. Then I start to think about the foggy memories I have of Atlanta. That one weekend in college. A bus trip to the Atlanta classic. In all these years I'd never been back unless you count the layovers at Heartsfield Atlanta Airport or trips to see family outside of Atlanta. So, this was going to be fun.
     Can we just say this once and get to the good stuff: traffic is terrible, parking is expensive. Deal with it.
      So, the woman responsible for bringing runners from all across the country for amazing weekend, Heather King, also set up a series of fun events to keep everyone occupied for the weekend: A House Party, Shakeout Run, Day Party and Post Run Party.
I'm too good to put my spades where you can see them
     Friday night we got the party started right with an Uber to the first Venue which wasn't actually a house,... but it felt like one inside. From the potluck food selection to the Hunch punch and the DJ,... it was all House Partay. But we ain't gonna hurt nobody. Anyway, I won that first spades tournament game with my partner Carlos. I think we even ran a Boston on them with the last hand.  It was a really fun night. Soon, runners who had gone to another pre-race party were showing up to enjoy the night.
    Day two of the schedule involved a shakeout run at 8am. Which was perfect timing to allow me to eat the free breakfast before and afterwards. #winning

     After the run,.. an awesome group picture and second breakfasts-es, it was off to the Expo. Well, maybe we should just call it bib pickup. The location was down in what felt like the basement of a hotel. It was a small room. There weren't too many vendors.  I did enjoy some popcorn from the Mizuno booth.
The Expo

Do we expect too much from Expos? Maybe... at least there was popcorn!

Hi nuun

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and a Big wall to sign your name. I wonder what happens to this wall after the marathon is over.
    I loved seeing Nuun represented and the booth seemed really busy. The guy at the PNC Bank booth was a little pushy. Dude, I just want a cool picture in front of your fake finish line. I wanted him to stop strying to sell me a bank account. Moving right along. It's day party time. This party may have even topped the last one. No one got hurt,... but North Carolina did raise up, take their shirts off, and swing them like helicopters around their heads. A good time.
The patio at the day party

Outside at the Day Party

Team CRuSH
      All of this and I still haven't been to WaHo. That's short forWaffle House. (I'm trying to sound cool)
     By now it's time to eat dinner and turn down for..... for Race day. All f my clothes were already rolled up into categories, shakeout clothes, race clothes and post race dry clothes. Somehow, I forgot to bring my warm clothes. All I needed was the long sleeve compression tee,.... but it did not make the trip this time.

BMR Raleigh Durham Chapel Hill Representing in GA
    I also should've planned or packed a breakfast. All I needed was some peanut butter crackers, a bagel, a banana and some juice. I found one of those fuel bars in my bag and eat that.
     Race day temps start in the 40s. Not too bad.
      The first stop is the group picture. You have to prove that this all happened right? TTDPM
      Next stop. Another group picture. This time with BlackMenRun. The weekend consisted of a number of race groups coming together for the cause ,... BMR, BGR, National Black Marathoners, Running Nerds and more.
Group Picture TTDPM

       At this point I'm cold but I have a few minutes to relax.  So, I drop into the hotel and come out at the very last minute.
      As with most races,.. I start off too fast.
      I'm surrounded by half marathoners. So, I try to let them go by me and start to get into a rhythm. I'm still trying to slow down 3 miles into the race.  I was really happy to run by the Dream Center but I was really, really happy to hit mile 7 and split away from the half marathoners.
     That's where I feel like the race really began. After a porto potty break, I found myself on a constant wheel chasing nutrition.  I had my Nuun and my Huma,... but having nothing in my stomach for breakfast didn't really help. When your running, your body diverts some of the blood away from your digestive track to your leg muscles which hinders digestion. So, later in the race when I was experiencing leg cramps, I was eating but it doesn't seem to do anything because it's too late to eat real food. That's  also why those gels are the best thing for you along with salt tabs and pickle juice.
      What is there to say about the course other than the hills? I enjoyed running through hilly Decatur. Their signs along the route with cute rhymes kept me a little distracted from the race.. which was a good thing. The Oreo cookies where great. I think it was girl scouts at that fuel stop.
     The peanut butter pretzels were too good. I tried to eat too many. I couldn't breathe for a second. The jelly beans were a great addition. I Shouldn't have put them in my pocket. About 10 miles later I was wondering why he back of my right leg was so sticky and why my shorts were stiff. You can imagine what I was thinking.
    By the time we get back into the Atlanta everyone was passing me. I obviously started out too fast. After five humagels, and three bottles of Nuun, I'm finally close to the finish. I'm cramping in both quads, but determined to finish. I know it wasn't going to be a PR but I also know that I can finish strong. So, I did what I could... And cramped up across the finish line trying to do the airplane landing pose. 26.2 miles done.
       A really fun race. Now, in retrospect... I think I'd do that race again. Especially now that I have more knowledge of the course and the area.
       The best part of this race was the post race tent party. Nothing was really planned. There wasn't a DJ. But there was some alcohol and a lot of smiles and congrats going around. It felt like a good old family reunion or HBCU homecoming. Many of us stayed until the last person came in. Which is pretty special because the half marathon runners usually get the big party while the marathon runners return to empty streets, street sweepers and roads reopening.

BMR CMO Edward Walton

David, Sheila and Kia

Matthew and Nikki

Ken, Jason, David and Me

, Nikki, Healther, and Lilly

      Anyway... after 26.2 there's still another party to attend. Another cool spot in Atlanta close to downtown. Great music. Good food. It was a cigar bar. That was a first for me. It was walking distance from the hotel, so no Uber. By the time we got there, I wanted to sit anywhere. The floor,... the bar,... someone's lap. We stuck around for a little while and we walked back to the hotel.

      Still no WaHo.
     After dinner and some post marathon laziness we finally made it to WaHo.... but not the popular WaHo underneath the Ferris Wheel where we would probably find an interesting crowd. We went to a brand new WaHo closet to the Hotel that no one knew about. We became the interesting crowd.
     Boom... The Atlanta experience is complete. Well,... there are some things that we left for another time. And there will be another time.
     Peace Atlanta. Thank you for the challenging course , the sights and the good times.


       More siteseeing pictures...............

More pictures from the Ride down.......



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