Race Report: ING Georgia Marathon

Okay, this isn’t an authentic race report, since I didn’t actually run the race, but it is my version from the perspective of supportive girlfriend and enthusiastic spectator! Good enough, right?

After work on Friday, Casey and I drove the eight hours to Atlanta through horrible rain and scary fog. We arrived a little before 1am and after a brief hello to the family, hit the futon. Saturday morning I was up at 7am to get ready for my 19-mile run. Mother nature thought it would be funny to send typhoon-style rain and storms to Atlanta, forcing me to take my 19-miler indoors – to the treadmill.

It wasn’t the hardest run of my life physically, but it was definitely up there on my list of mental battles. Nineteen miles is a very long run regardless of where you do it. But running it one place (and in an unfamiliar city and gym) for over three hours is just plain mind-numbing. The gym felt like it was at least 150 degrees, and I was so miserable I was reduced to taking my shirt off to use as a sweat rag. The people around me thought I was nuts for sure – slurping Gu packs, squirting my water bottle all over my face, and literally soaking in sweat. But I got it done, and I will never do that again. Big thanks to Casey’s brother’s girlfriend, Katie, for letting me use her gym membership!

Once that was over, I headed back to Kirt’s house, scarfed down a giant bowl of oatmeal and melon, and got showered and ready to head to the Expo at the Georgia Dome!

At the Expo we got Casey’s race bag and ate lots of yummy free samples, and then we all headed to Toby and Kevin’s house (Casey’s aunt and uncle) for a fabulous pre-marathon meal! I loaded up a huge plate of food and ate every bite – 19 miles had made me ravenous! After a lot of delicious food, and a fun family visit, we headed back to Kirt’s to rest up for the big day…
Sunday morning, Casey and I were up at 4am, and headed downtown to the starting line. Casey’s parents were nice enough to come with us so that I wouldn’t have to navigate downtown Atlanta by myself (scary!).

We dropped Casey off at the starting line, and headed back to the MARTA station – we had mapped out a plan to see him at multiple points along the course, using the train system to get around. Waiting for the trains was super slow and frustrating, but we managed to make it to every stop just in time to see Casey fly past! Here he is the first time we saw him, just passed the 5-mile point…

I was so excited that I was only able to get a picture from the back! I was too busy screaming when he went past. As soon as he passed us I burst into tears – I was so emotional, and so proud of him. He was exactly on his pace, and looked like he was feeling great. He tossed us his long-sleeved shirt since he had warmed up (although we were all still freezing on the sidelines!). Once he ran by, we met up with (brother’s girlfriend) Katie, (cousin/bridesmaid) Haley, and (aunt) Toby, who were just down the street – also cheering, and headed to the 13-mile marker. We got to the half-way point just in time to see the front pack of elite runners – these guys were amazing!

This was my first time ever watching a marathon, and it was really cool to see the race leaders and the pace cars. This marathon offered the fun option that runners could have their names printed on their bib numbers, and I made a point to yell out and cheer for every person with a name on their bib. At first the family thought i was nuts, but Katie and Haley quickly caught on, and we turned into a very enthusiastic cheering squad!

I had figured out what time we should expect Casey at the half-way point (if he was still on his pace), and right on time I looked down the street and there he was! I started jumping around and screaming like a maniac – he looked so great! More sobbing and blubbering – he looked so strong. We got his half-marathon update text, confirming to use that he was right on pace – smoking at a 7:18 minute mile! (Check out those biceps!)

At this point, we had originally planned to head to the finish. The course was laid out in a way that made it hard to get around for the spectators. But I reeeaaaally wanted to try to catch the train to mile 23 – I knew he would need us there, especially since he wouldn’t be expecting us. I talked to Lindsey, who reminded me that (having run marathons myself) I knew the importance of having friends and support in those final grueling miles. The group got on board, and we decided to give it a shot. We raced to the train station and made the trek up north to mile 23. We got there with a few minutes to spare, and continued to cheer on the other runners. Again, I spot
ted him coming from waaaay down the street, and he was still right on pace! He looked really surprised and excited to see us, especially since he was running up a huuuuuge hill!

Once we saw him and yelled and screamed (and cried), it was a full-on sprint to the train station. We knew that we had a very small window of time to see him at 23, and still make it to the finish line. The minute the doors to the train opened, we took off full speed ahead – big thanks to Katie for racing around with me to make it to the finish area! I was definitely feeling that 19-mile run as I tried to get to the finish line on time.

We ended up getting blocked by partitions and race-course and we couldn’t get to the finish line itself to see him cross, so we snuck into the finisher’s area, and positioned ourselves right at the end of the chute where the runners got their medals. About a minute after we got there, I saw Casey getting his medal, ran up to him, and threw my arms around him in a huge hug. He looked amazing, and had a great race, finishing in an official time of 3 hours, 12 minutes, and 24 seconds – WOW. He ended up finishing in 64th place overall – insane!

Casey said he felt great, and felt like he gave it 100%, which is exactly what you hope to do in a race. After resting for a bit, we met up with the rest of his family, and we all headed to his aunt Tracey’s house (in the back of an open-bed pick-up truck -what?) for a lovely post-race brunch. After a little more family-visit-time, we headed back to the train and to Kirt’s house so that we could pack up for the long drive home to Cincy…

We left Atlanta around 3pm, and not long into the trip the exhausted marathoner crashed hard. I let him rest and sleep, and I sang at the top of my lungs and drove us the 462 miles home. I did manage to snap a picture of this RV I drove behind for a while in Tennessee – how appropriate! (Taking pictures behind the wheel – who says I’m not a safe driver?)

I was thrilled that the weather for marathon day and the return-trip was much nicer than our trip down. It’s a beautiful part of the country to travel. Overall, a great weekend and an amazing race. I could not have been more proud of Casey, and I loved getting to experience a marathon from the other side.

But being there also definitely got my nerves going for my own race, coming up in just five short weeks – eeeek!