I was attracted to this half marathon because of the neat Martian medal in the shape of an EBE (extraterrestrial biological entity). My husband, a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and space exploration, was willing to go along with me. After all, I did the Extraterrestrial 51k race in Area 51 in Nevada and we both enjoyed that trip, so why not try this race?
Roswell is a bedroom suburb just north of Atlanta, so traffic on Friday was heavy but fortunately most people were leaving the city while we were heading around it. Our hotel was an expansive quiet Doubletree on Holcomb Bridge Road situated about 1 ½ miles from the race site at Riverside Park. Since the race is an evening race that begins at 7 pm on Saturday, we probably could have left early Saturday morning, but we wanted time to check out the course during the daylight hours, so we drove up on Friday.
Whenever we travel around the Atlanta area, we can usually find a Taco Mac for at least one meal. That was true this time as well. Our Friday afternoon dinner was guacamole and chips, burger for Darcy, flatbread pizza for me, and a selection of local draft beers. We relaxed at the hotel and watched the Olympics.
Both of us were tired and slept late on Saturday (late for me is 7 am, but it still counts). It was strange not having to rise early to get ready for a morning race but it was also a nice change. We had a leisurely breakfast at the Peachtree Diner just down the road. Darcy had corned beef hash and eggs with biscuits and gravy while I delighted in a bagel, cream cheese, and lox platter. After we ate our fill, we drove down to the race site to get an idea of where to park for the race.
There were hours for packet pickup on Thursday and Friday at several running stores in nearby Marietta and Alpharetta but it was much easier for us to get my bib, chip (D-ring for shoe), and short-sleeve red tee shirt (cotton blend with an EBE on the front) at the park on Saturday afternoon from 4:30-6:45 pm. The parking lot was crowded when we arrived at 4:20 and as time passed it became much harder for people to find a spot. There was additional parking at another lot and along the road as well as an overflow lot in Sandy Springs with shuttle service. It should be noted that in addition to the half marathon, there is also a popular 5k that begins ten minutes after the half start.
I met up with my friend Cheryl who arrived about 5:30. She was planning to register for the race but hadn’t made up her made until the evening before. I was happy to see her for several reasons; she and I have a similar pace plus I wanted to hand over some quilt tops I had sewn but wanted her to machine quilt for me. Cheryl makes beautiful quilts from tee shirts (her business is called Run With It Quilts and her website is http://gallery123uniques.com) and she made a very large one for me from 15 of my national and international racing shirts. I love to make quilt tops but simply can’t find time to hand quilt everything I make and I find machine quilting a burden, so I gave Cheryl five tops to machine quilt for me.
After Cheryl registered for the race, Darcy drove us back to the Doubletree so we could rest for a while. That seemed a better idea than standing around in the heat and sunshine waiting for the race start. Around 6:20, we returned to the park and Darcy dropped us off and returned to the hotel. Cheryl and I joined the throngs of other racers at the starting line. Someone sang the National Anthem and we began to move at 7 pm. Weather was still hot and humid but I knew that once the sun went down some of the heat would dissipate.
The first few miles were on road but then we turned onto a trail that wound around a lake. This trail portion only lasted for a mile or so but it was treacherous for me, with several big roots that crossed the path and the occasional loose rock. Most people would find it easy and very runnable but since I tend to trip over the smallest pebble, I slowed to a cautious walk. Once we were back on a paved path that ran parallel to the road we originally ran on I was fine and could pick up my pace once again. I was glad it was still daylight for this section of the race.
We passed by the starting area and through the park on our way to the other long out-and-back. This section was notable primarily for the very long but gentle incline from miles 5 through 7. We finally turned around at approximately mile 8 and I was relieved that the entire race except for the brief trail portion was all pavement. It was dark but everyone was prepared with headlamps and there were enough people in front of me that I could follow the course back to the finish line. Aid stations were every 2 – 3 miles, with water, Gatorade, and gels.
I finished in 3:04, a little slower than my usual time, but I was extremely pleased. My feet did not hurt at all (except for the usual post-race pain) and I was able to maintain a fairly steady pace throughout the race. I realized that I do need to work quite a bit on my speed if I am to regain my customary finishing times, but I think I am finally past the after surgery complications.
The medal is a glow-in-the-dark EBE medal, a fine addition to my collection of half marathon medals. The race is a fun race for walkers as long as they can handle some trail, don’t mind the August heat, and enjoy night races. Me, I am a morning person, so just staying awake until the race began was a challenge, but a worthwhile one.