I was recently in Atlanta (for work) and decided to try out my new age group legs in a local 5K. There were several races during St. Patrick Day weekend and I toyed with the idea of doing one, the one closest to my AirBnB, until the last minute, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade 5K, the 4th annual. The weather first predicted rain and then thunderstorms so rather than register in advance, I decided to wait until the morning so see what the weather brought. I was also motivated by the picture of the cool medal that all finishers were to receive (more on that later).
Isn’t this a cool enough medal to motivate one to run a race?
The morning came and the streets were damp, but no rain. So I walked about 30 minutes, downhill, to the start of the race. It was early when I got to the start, close to 8:45, the race started at 10 so there were not a lot of people milling around. Being a New Yorker and always schlepping with something, I brought a bag with a raincoat and water. I asked if there was a bag check. No bag check. WTF. I guess most people drive so they leave stuff in the trunk of a car? Even the races in Calgary have bag checks. Unheard of. I was about to not run the race (the lady who was doing the registration was not helpful in that regard) with a bag flapping around my back. So I was going to head back home when the other woman under the registration tent offered to watch it. Nothing valuable to anyone else except me and someone who might want a jacket and/or a bag. I paid my fee, got my number and green t-shirt and was ready to wait for the start.
It was sea of green. Everyone went all out with the St. Patrick’s Day green for this race and I felt out of place in my navy blue shirt, so I switched into the green race shirt an also got decked out with some of the green party favors:
The area was well-decorated for the later St. Patrick’s Day parade with clovers and little glittery hats filled with green Mardi Gras beads (the beads will figure again later in this story).
There were green tutu’s, green socks, green running kilts, green everything, even green-sprayed dogs.
Traditional Irish running kilt and fuel belt
Sea of green to start the race
The race started with a relatively steep downhill towards Piedmont Park. I went running there the day before so was somewhat familiar with the park. It has a nice lake in the middle and gentle up and down slopes around. I started the race at a nice pace knowing that my misbehaving hamstrings would not hold the pace for the entire race, but it felt good to pass people for a change (rather than getting passed). We looped around the meadow and past the garden and around the ball fields. This is where hammy said, “no mas” and I had to stop, stretch, walk a little and slow down. I reduced my pace but still tried to keep pace (or at least within eyeshot) of others who I’ve been running with for the first 2 miles. And, as cruel fate would have it, the last part of the race was up the same hill that we ran down at the beginning (it was a loop so duh).
St. Patrick’s Day loop and hill profile it was plus 144ft
I did a lot of shuffling and trotting up the hill. I did not feel like pushing, after all I wasn’t going to win money or anything. I encouraged a couple of runners that a passed (they were walking) while feeling all robust and things because I passed them. Once we reached the top of the hill it was actually a gentle downhill slope to the finish line! I took a little advantage of that slope, this means my trotting became jogging and then a slowish run. There was one dude who tried to pass me but then I “muscled up” and out ran him across the line. I was done. My first race of the season. I was exhausted but pleased that I actually made the effort to make it to that race. I was looking forward to the medal. However the actual medal was basically the same Mardi Gras beads that were sitting around in the glittery hats before the race. Because of my effort, I made sure to aim for one that still had the cardboard tag.
I milled around with other finishers and realized that all finishers receive a free beer.
Decked out dog
I am not a beer drinker, I like wine. Red wine. Fruity red wine. But I was thirsty and the beer was free. I did not want a bitter beer so I asked the servers for a suggestion. Their suggestion was good, Reformation Brewery’s Cadence:
It was sweeter (to me) that most beers, almost weiss-like (according to the website, it’s a Belgian-style ale). I actually enjoyed this beer and would order it if I were to see it on a beer menu.
As I was drinking my beer an older gentleman asked me if I won a medal. They did not call the race yet and I assumed that because I slowed down I didn’t get anything. He suggested that I should hang around to see. It was then about 10:30, the medals would be awarded at 11:15. Because I don’t particularly like beer, even this relatively pleasant one, I was sipping it slowly. Beer does not go down easily for me. I said to the man, “I will leave as soon as I finish my beer.” My beer took me close to the 45 minutes to finish. I was down to my last sip when they started the awards and I though, “might as well.”
I heard them call my age group and then the third place name. Not mine. The second place name. Not mine. “Oh well, let me hit the road,” I thought. First place, “Jennifer Adams!” I. Cannot. Believe. I won a medal, it has been years since I won a medal or trophy in a race. I racked them up in my 20s but, like I said, its been decades. I walked up, received my medal, took a picture with Gumby and then looked for an Uber.
Overall, it was a well organized small race. There was a water station and ample water and food (bananas and snacks) at the finish line. The staff and volunteers were friendly. My main disappointment was that the medal was not what was pictured on the website. Would I have still ran without the medal? Probably, but the cool medal was a strong motivating factor. The Publix Marathon and Half would be the next day. This seems like it might be a good “shake out” run for those inclined to do those.
As I walked towards a space that where the streets were open ( there was a parade to start soon after the awards), it started to rain. Pour. But I had my medal so it was all good.