Atlanta Marathon Relay Finisher

This is an attempt at a race recap.  I say attempt because I'm usually so focused on finishing a race that I don't really take time to note impressions about the race.  So, let's see. 
I didn't train.  Um, yeah..no, not smart.
I babysat the night before the race...until 430a. Unavoidable.
I didn't actually get up until between 630a and 7a.  I didn't leave the house until 730a.  My exchange was less than two miles from the house.  And knowing that Step was planning on coming in right around 55 minutes.  I figured there was no use in standing outside in the cold any longer than necessary.  M and I parked on Mitchell Street and I walked around the corner to the exchange.  I saw the running group girls gathered about half way up the block and hung back.  M suggested that I warm up and stretch.  So, I took a couple of turns around the parking lot and pretended like I was stretching.  Once I got back to where M was standing, Latisha Lee found me and I had an awesome time catching up with her for a few short minutes before her team member came in for the exchange.  Right about that time, I realized that I had forgotten my earplugs.  Fortunately, the husband had some and gave me his.  (He's a lifesaver.)  By the time, I got those situated and got my Nike+ set up to get started, I looked up the street and there was Step, looking for me amongst the running group girls.  I stepped out into the street and waved her down. 
And I was off.
Because it was cold, I had on my throw away sweatshirt that I knew that I was going to get too hot for.  It took me about two blocks to get it situated to where I pulled it behind my shoulders and only had it on my arms.  It took me that same amount of time to get my Nike+ started.  It took me the whole first mile to realize that I couldn't hear the music because I didn't have the earplugs on. 
So, finally, I've got tunes and I'm cruising. My first two miles went really quickly.  I barely remember passing Atlanta City Hall or the Georgia State Capital because I was still fooling with my sweatshirt and iPod.  I remember looking up as I was nearing the Braves stadium to realize that we were an hour into the race.  So, I'm going along, ready getting warmed up, and feeling kinda good and then got hit with my first "real" hill, on Georgia Avenue coming up to Grant Park.  Sure, there had been a few inclines to this point, but yeah...this one, I pulled up mid-interval and walked.  However, I did use the time constructively and went ahead and ditched the throwaway sweatshirt.
There was a water station in Grant Park that was giving out GU Gel.  I had initially taken a vanilla flavored pak, but then heard the next guy say he had chocolate.  Can't go wrong with chocolate, right?  WRONG!  Somewhere in Grant Park there is a big brown stain where I immediately spit that mess out.  It was disgusting.  I decided that from that point on, I would stick with the Gatorade that I had in my water belt. The same Gatorade that had started the morning out frozen, but was begining to melt and had created this slight chug, chug sound as I ran.
We were running through a lot of rather non-descript neighborhoods and there were some folks out in their pajamas rooting us on. 
I remember running past Oakland Cemetary, thinking "Oh, there's the cemetary."  There was a slight hill up the end of the Memorial Drive leg, only for the turn to take me up a mountain.  I think that was the beginning of my cursing.  This was also where I was nearing my halfway mark.  Still felt pretty good.  I saw Chris C. Carter right about there and we waved and smiled and cheered and kept moving.
As we ran through Cabbagetown and under a decorated bridge that I had never seen in life, I remember thinking, "I'm running through parts of Atlanta that I've never even driven."
After we got past the underpass, I turned on Edgewood.  This is where I saw runners coming back towards me and realized that I had reached the part of the race that called for a loop back.  EVERYTHING in me wanted to skip over to the other side of the street and run back the way they were going.  Integrity kept me on course.  However, I did start wondering how far down the street I was going to have to run before I could turn back. 
This is the part of the course that a group called LEAD was volunteering on.  I swear there were about 100 folks out there from that group.  The group was multigenerational and they were lined up for high fives.  I high fived every last one of them. (I had gloves on.  lol)
Shortly after I passed them, there was the loop. #PraiseJesus...  And I actually got a bit of pep in my step when I realized that I would get to pass back by the folks from LEAD.  There were more of them lined up and I gave high fives all over again.
As I headed back up Edgewood, I feel a runner coming up on my left and looked up to see Leslie Knight Bailey.  I matched her step for step, happy to see her for a bit.  Then I waved her on.  Once I came up to the bridge, I realized that I was a little over an hour into my leg and that it would be a good time to pull up and contact the team and the husband.  I just sent them a message that simply said, "Mile 5."  I put my headphones back in, started the music and went back to it.
By the time we made it back over by Atlanta Medical Center, I was getting tired and starting to pray for the end.  I was walking a lot more by then.  By intervals were out the window.  At this point, I was running when I could and on most of the downhills.  This was also right as I passed my 7th mile.  I pulled up and texted again.  "Past Mile 7 - some cramping. Send good vibes..." And because I went right back to the run, I didn't even realize that my team was texting me well wishes.  I also didn't realize that M was texting me trying to find me.  Apparently, he set up around Mile 11, unbeknownst to me.  So, I didn't know to look for him and apparently, I ran right by him without him seeing me. 
North Highland Avenue was very unfriendly to me.  It was long, slightly curving and all uphell.  Yes, I said "upHELL."  Because that's exactly what it was for me at that point.  But, by this time, I knew I was nearing the end.  I was slightly off the time goal that I had set for myself.  But really, right there on North Highland Avenue, I would have donated a vital organ to have a downhill.  Not realizing how close I was to the exchange, I saw Cassie just as I was coming up a hill.  I remember looking at her, glad to see her.  She was so into cheering for a guy passing me that she almost didn't see me.  It was after I passed her that I heard her say my name and that I was almost there, Just a little bit farther. 
Then, as I was wondering when I was going to see/hear the noise from the exchange, I just happened upon it.  Seeing Angela Dillard at the top of the exchange with a bullhorn is what made me realize I was there.  I immediately took off my slap wristband and started looking for Biv.  And while I found her and passed off the wristband to her, I only remember handing her the band and taking her jacket.
One of the volunteers pointed me to the corral area.  I didn't want a banana or a water.  I just wanted my husband and some food.
(After race recap coming up....)

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