Being a baseball fan, how can anyone turn down a chance to finish on Turner Field, especially when this is the last year of Turner Field being home of the Braves? Certainly not me. With races of various distances, this ended up being a perfect family event as my hubby could hang with the kid while I ran. Due to a schedule change, he was in charge of the kiddo doing her 50m dash due to how slowly I run. Packet people pick up could be done the day before at the Atlanta Track Club office which eased stress of an early morning that involved my non-morning person hubby. By some miracle we made it out of the house by 6am and rolled into the blue lot at Turner Field before 7.
While the blue lot was easy to park in, the stairs down to the green lot would prove troublesome on the way back. We ventured to the ATC provided porta potties for cleanliness, because they do exist at runs. We ended up not having too much time to kill for a 7:30 5k start, so after leaving the kid and hubby at monument grove for the dash, I made my way up the hill on Hank Aaron Drive to the 5k start. As I’m super slow, I aimed for the last starting corral, D. While standing there in the sun, it hit me just how hot and humid the day already was for just June and I had to run in it. Somehow when we got started, I pushed up the hill and back down the hill and settled into the Memorial Drive stretch, and was feeling good. As I passed the first mile marker, I was really wondering where the first of two water stops was because the heat was suddenly hitting me hard. It did not help we were running into the sun. We made the run onto Cherokee and up on the 20 overpass was the water station.
I desperately needed the water, but had to wait for it in the crowd, which was the downfall of my race that had started out good. I pushed too hard in the heat and I started slowing down going up the next hill in the shade. I saw mile two and knew I had to just keep moving. Running the Hot Chocolate in the opposite direction made me forget I had some tough hills ahead of me in the last 1.1. Normally, I push through anything in mile three, but I had pushed too hard and was running on empty earlier than I should be. I then went back to walk up hills and run downhills to get to the finish. There was a lot more up, but a water station that wasn’t early as crowded. And Coach Amy was out shouting that once we finished the last hill, it was all downhill. I just had to finish that hill to get back to running.
Downhill on Georgia Avenue and then more downhills on the turn to go around to the entrance to the stadium. I was cheering despite feeling like I was dying. But there was an up ramp going under the stadium that felt horrible, but I kept momentum going and I kicked it up another notch once I hit the warning track at right field and knew I just had to get to center field. And then I was done. I felt horrible, but it was done. Two lessons were learned during this race. Hydration leading up to race day is super important and don’t push hard too early in the summer. I’ll be running another 5k tomorrow and taking all of this advice. And that huge ramp didn’t seem so huge the next day when I saw it.
The stairs up to the plaza level were pure torture, but shade (and the Chick-Fil-A cows) awaited. I found the hubby and kiddo who has just missed me finish due to the dash and got Powerade and a bagel to start to feel human again. New this year were getting game tickets to other games than that same day (downside – you miss a pre-race parade around the field) which was a benefit for us with having evening plans already. Lines were much shorter for those games, which was an even bigger win. All that I had left to do was climb the stairs to the blue lot to get back to the car. Wisely, I let a group of faster people go ahead. Slowly, the last torture was completed.
Good news is the entire family had fun, even the non-runner and I can say I finished a race on Turner Field. And I learned valuable lessons for my upcoming summer races. Amazingly enough my time was about a minute faster than last June’s 5k and next time, I’ll be moving up in age groups!