Running in Atlanta

My summer of travel is starting to draw to an end, now that it’s October. I feel like I should draw some lessons about travel and running, but I think that’s for a separate post. For today, two glorious runs, three dear friends and a shout-out to the running community that brings us together.

 

 

I arrived in Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon and went right to the hotel gym for 52 very boring minutes on the stationary bike. Why? Because I’m still really careful about how many miles I put on my foot and I wasn’t about to throw an extra four to five miles at it just because the damn bike is super boring. Plus, it was 85 degrees outside so, blech.

 

 

 

Thursday morning, though, I made my way to Piedmont Park and the Active Oval. Huge cheers for Uber/Lyft which I used interchangeably to get around the city. I’m careful about running before dawn in places I don’t know but numerous google searches (“Is Piedmont Park safe to run in when it’s dark?”) plus confirmation from FauxRunner assured me it was fine. In fact, when I arrived at 6:45am, the park was packed and I felt late because most people seemed to be wrapping up their workouts! I ran around the Active Oval watching dawn arrive on Atlanta’s skyline as crazy fast runners from SCAD zoomed past me in the darkness. SCAD stands for Savannah College of Art and Design – and apparently also very fast running – and their very coachy-looking coach stood by with his cap, clipboard and stopwatch, completing the experience. It was glorious and kept me going through the six straight hours of the German Studies Association Executive Board meeting.

Friday morning I had seven miles on deck (longest mid-week run post-injury!) with four of them somewhat faster than easy. With the Hartford Half approaching, I wanted to take this run more seriously and not have to stop every three minutes because of intersections. Google plus FauxRunner came to the rescue again with the suggestion of a route at Cochran Shoals Trail along the Chattahoochee River. I arrived around 8am and once again, the serious locals were finishing up, emerging from the wooded path while they stripped off their shirts and head lamps. This destination was worth the hassle of the longer Lyft ride, with a flat out-and-back route partially on a gravel path and partially on a road with almost no traffic.

I took the first two warm-up miles pretty easy, stopping for a couple of pictures and then it was time to work a little, but not too much. I’m experimenting with training by feel not pace. My instructions were four miles at “two to three sentences” pace, meaning that’s how much I should be able to talk without gasping for breath. If I’m alone, I talk to Snarky Girl to check on effort level so I have to remember she hasn’t actually heard these conversations. I’m still getting the feel of training by feel (ha ha) and the space in between easy running and tempo pace feels kind of vast and murky. Coach Mick assured me that, although there are probably three gears to be found in that space, hitting a particular one wasn’t important for this run and I was definitely in there somewhere. I’m planning to run the Hartford Half without looking at my watch, though even as I write this I think – yeah, you’re putting that in the blog as an insurance policy that you do it because you are soooo ready to revert to that watch.

The rest of the day was completely delightful. Southern Rock picked me up at the hotel and we drove out to Star Provisions where we were meeting FauxRunner for lunch. Sometimes these online connections happen suddenly and solidly and Southern Rock is someone whose friendship and support I’ve enjoyed since running the NYC marathon three years ago. His quiet gentle spirit and beautiful photos have sustained me more than he knows. Spending the day together was even better than I expected and I had some pretty high expectations. FauxRunner joined us for lunch. She’s someone who always makes me smile and the words-per-minute rate was pretty darn high once the two of us got going. Plus, she’s basically FAMOUS having won a spot on one of the first Another Mother Runner relay teams and having run the London marathon for charity.

Eventually FauxRunner had to leave and after Southern Rock and I basically shut down Star Provisions, we headed back downtown to meet Hot’lanta Mom for some tacos and margaritas. Hot’lanta Mom and I met through a first-time moms group on babycenter.com way back in March 2008. That group has been together ever since and when she and Tiny Dynamo started running, it’s what got me off the couch. Tiny Dynamo might secretly be the energizer bunny, but Hot’lanta Mom? She is pretty much just like me. A busy mom with a full-time job, two kids, no time, no history as a runner. When she started the Couch to 5K program, I thought, wow, if she can do it, I can do it. She’s probably more responsible than any other person in the world for my starting to run and I am forever grateful for the inspiration. It seems impossible that we had never met in person before, but we hadn’t. Still, post-work margaritas with Hot’lanta Mom was pretty much just like it would be with one of my in-town girlfriends. A flurry of chatter about work and kids and husbands and the current running struggles. Perfection.

All too soon, it was time to go back to being a professor again and I had to say good bye to these lovely friends. I know there’s a lot of ink spilled about how special the running community is. I can only say – it’s all true and more so. FauxRunner and Hot’lanta Mom took time out of their busy-crazy lives to come say hello. Southern Rock drove two hours to spend the day with me. The saddest thing is not being able to see them again this weekend. The most wonderful thing is that we found each other at all. I cannot claim to understand it, but there’s a little bit of magic in this running thing.

 

 

 

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1 Response to Running in Atlanta

  1. Bryan Board says:

    Different sizes. Different Shapes. Different backgrounds. Different parts of the country. Chances of meeting under normal, “Life?” Slim to none. Yet a common thread emerges, that stretches through airwaves and internet lines, to bring and bind us together. Running may have been the catalyst, but from that common bond, friendships emerge. We reach out to take a hand when our friend is down or hurting. We stretch out a hand when they need to be lifted up. We hi-5 in celebration. We reach out, because we are no longer just, runners. We reach out, because we are friends. – B

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