So race day came and it was a lot warmer than last year, in the low 50s. Because we stayed in a great room at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center, which is right before the starting line, we were able to get as much sleep as possible and then amble right down to the start.
This year the corrals were much more organized and it appeared Marietta was much better lit. It wasn't too long before we were off -- there was a 3-minute delay between the gun time and my race start.
Everything at first was really good. My 10K time was somewhere around 54:30 and then just taking it easy, I reached Mile 13 in Decatur in about two hours.
Two miles later, however, things started to become different. I developed cramps in my right calf at about Mile 15 and it alternated on both legs up the Lullwater hills. I tried to keep going and I pretty much was able to. I was really thankful for a Gatorade gel pack around Mile 18.
The one thing about going at a really slow pace is that it's not hard to get up hills. So I just plugged away, the best I could, up my home court hills -- Springdale, The By Way, Stillwood. Soon I was up on Mile 20. I was a little miffed that there was not a water station here (at a huge psychological waymarker).
On Los Angeles my right calf cramped up so bad that I had to stop for about 20 seconds. I started to walk and then it went away, so I continued running. The Mile 22 turnaround in Piedmont Park seemed surreal. At this point I just kept count of the remaining hills and did the best I could. No two races are completely alike.
Finally I made it past Mile 25 and the really long remainder of the course along Marietta. I was with a group at that point that kicked so I was able to get in under 4-1/2 hours. This was Plan B but it could have been much worse!
I beat my PR by an hour and 39 minutes, lol, having had an even worse first marathon in Portland in 2000. Even this time I don't feel like my training was up to snuff if I started to cramp up at Mile 15. But I'll take it. For the last 10 years I've really been proud of my Portland Marathon finisher's medal and I'm glad to finally add another one to it.
In the hotel room I weighed myself- I lost 6 pounds in the race and also suffered a case of a bloody nipple.
Time: 7 a.m.
Temp: 51 to 55 degrees
Gear: SST (Race for Research), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 26.