06 July 2008

Running on the 4th

As a kid, I loved the 4th of July. For me, it was about waving our nation's flag as a soldiers (both veterans and currently enlisted) and marching bands paraded by, getting together with neighbors and family for picnics with watermelon seed-spitting contests and grilled hot dogs, and finally getting to stay up late to watch the fireworks. Later, I got to march in the parades as part of a high school band and play taps at the Military cemetery. But somewhere along the way I lost my joy in Independence Day. It didn't seem so simple once I was old enough to figure out that the government didn't always work the way we were taught in school - the way Constitution said it should.

Last year I didn't celebrate Independence Day at all. The US Embassy of Mozambique did have a celebration and invited all Americans, but I was in the field working.

This year I got an opportunity, completely out of the blue, to run in the 39th annual Peachtree 10K road race in Atlanta, GA. Thanks for the number Stephanie! It doesn't sound quite patriotic, but there is a certain amount of red, white, and blue fever attached. Some run in red, white, and blue, some spectate in those colors. The national anthem was sung at the start. A group of soldiers ran the Peachtree in Iraq as we ran the streets of Atlanta. A couple of thousand people volunteered to help the race run smoothly, 55,000 people ran 6.2 miles/10K, and thousands more watched and cheered us on. A mega-parade if you will.

Waiting for the MARTA at 5am to take us to the start

55,000 people is a whole lot of runners. I thought I'd post a mini-photo essay on what it was like to run the Peachtree. I apologize in advance for some blurriness in the photos. I took them on the run.
Last minute pee break.

Lining up to start

At the start

The first mile - check out the billboard

A water station

Getting blessed and cooling off

Cardiac Hill - a slow, long uphill from mile 3 to almost mile 4

Just married

Some of the many spectators. Not all dress so silly. Lots of live bands too!

A final cool-off near mile 5.5

Taking the MARTA home all hot, sweaty and stinky

There's no finish line pictures. At that point I was exhausted after waking up at 3am to drive to Atlanta and run at 8:15am. I was also starving. With the picture taking and having fun my 6 miles took 50 minutes, but I did not walk any of it.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution, one of the sponsors has more pictures online - including some really cool bird's eye view shots of thousands of runners at the start.

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