On Sunday, March 1, 2020, I ran my 34th full marathon and checked Georgia off the list in my quest to run a marathon in every state, by completing the Publix Atlanta Marathon.
(See a list of all the states I’ve completed so far HERE.)
One of the reasons that I chose the Atlanta Marathon is because my husband and I were already considering going to Atlanta to watch the Olympic Marathon Trials the day before. When we found out there was a marathon the next day, that sealed the deal!
We arrived in Atlanta around 9 pm on Friday, and quickly grabbed a Lyft to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency downtown.
Saturday morning, we were up early to jog to the expo; due to the trials that day, the expo was only open from 8-11 am on Saturday. Not a lot of time!
We jogged to the expo, I picked up my packet, and then we ran a few more miles.
(The expo was so dead!)
We accidentally ended up joining up with a Kara Goucher shakeout run and even ran into a few Minneapolis friends who had joined that event! There were actually so many Minneapolis people in Atlanta, it was nuts!
I ended with about 4.5 miles.
(Twinning in our Oiselle!)
After the run, we quickly showered and found our friend Christie to find a spot to cheer for the trials.
If you’re unfamiliar with the trials, essentially any woman who can run a 2:45 or faster, or any man who can run a 2:19 or faster qualifies for the trials, or gets an “OTQ!” Then, the trials are held and the top 3 male/female finishers get to represent our country at the Olympics!
I may write a whole other post about cheering for the trials, because it was so inspiring and one of the coolest races to watch in person. Here are few photos, but we have so many more!
Even when cheering for Boston, where athletes have to qualify to run, there are still vastly different times, since it becomes easier to qualify as you age. The trials were different in that EVERYONE there had run a 2:45 or a 2:19. Incredible! These athletes are the best of the best. I plan to go watch the trials every time now. 2024, I’ll be there!
At one point, we were cheering right next to Sara Hall’s parents! They were so sweet.
We were out cheering from about 11:30 am until 3 pm, which meant I spent lot of time outside moving around and not drinking as much water as I normally would before a marathon; I’m sure that didn’t help my personal marathon performance the next day…
That evening, we grabbed dinner at Amalfi Pizza, which was a short walk away from our hotel. We saw Jim Walmsley and Allie Kieffer; apparently Amalfi Pizza was the place to eat post trials!
I was in bed early after dinner, though Dustin did take advantage of my Oiselle Volee membership and attended a party they held. He got to meet the founder Sally, as well as Kara Goucher, all the Haute Volee who raced in the trials, and Abdi Abdirahman, 3rd place finisher for men at the trials. I was a little jealous that I missed out on the fun Oiselle party, but it was early to bed for me with 26.2 miles on tap for the next morning!
Why didn’t Dustin need to go to bed? Well, unfortunately, he wasn’t registered for the marathon. He was so sure that he registered, but somehow he wasn’t, and since the marathon was full, they weren’t able to make any exceptions…which means we will be back to Georgia again sometime soon for him to check that state off the list as well!
My alarm went off at 5 am; I ate a plain bagel with peanut butter, drank some Gatorade, water, and coffee, put on my race kit, and walked over to Olympic park for the start line.
The Right Fit: What did I wear for the Atlanta Marathon?
The temperature at the start was 34, with a high for the day of 60 and sunny. For me, that meant starting the race a little chilly with a few layers to drop.
I wore a new Oiselle Volee singlet; I know, I know, nothing new on race day, but I broke that rule and it did end up with chafing under both arms. Not smart!.
I paired it with a pair of their Flyout Shorts, which I LOVE. Huge pockets on both sides and the back. I also wore my trusty Brooks Ravennas on my feet, Pro Compression socks, a Sweaty Betty Stamina sports bra (still my favorite), Louva arms sleeves, and Goodr sunglasses.
The marathon and half marathon started together at 7 am. There were plenty of bathrooms at the starting area and the gear check was easy to find (even though I ended up not checking a bag, since I would have Dustin at the finish.)
Before the starting gun for the race, we were given words of wisdom from all of the Olympians (except Galen Rupp, he didn’t show). Then the national anthem, and then I was running!
Before I delve into my performance, I have to admit that my mental game was not strong going into this marathon.
So many excuses…
- I went into this marathon with a terrible head cold; two days before the race, I couldn’t breathe out of my nose at all. I was using the ol’ Neti Pot on the regular. So that was no good…Basically, I was sick.
- I spent the day before cheering for hours at the trials. Even though we didn’t do a ton of walking, we did more than I should have the day before 26.2 miles.
- I just didn’t hydrate as well as I should have since we were outside all day.
- One more thing that threw me off my game more than I expected was that Dustin wasn’t out there running the marathon. Even though we rarely run marathons together, I always know that he’s out there on the course and that we’d be able to discuss and share our experiences afterwards. I guess that meant more to me than I realized!
Even with all my excuses going into the race, I still thought I could comfortably break 4 hours. After all, I stayed under 4 at Boston on a hot, sunny disaster of a day. I hadn’t run a marathon OVER 4 hours (other than Antarctica or when I was pacing someone) since the Outer Banks Marathon in 2014.
What happened at the Atlanta marathon was humbling.
Here are my splits:
Mile 1: 9:04
Mile 2: 9:05
Mile 3: 9:00
Mile 4: 9:21- a big climb; I kept an even effort and was still doing okay.
Mile 5: 8:57
Mile 6: 8:49
Mile 7: 9:12
Mile 8: 8:48
Mile 9: 8:40
Mile 10: 9:24– another big climb. (But honestly, Atlanta was ALL climbs. Training on the treadmill over a Minneapolis winter does NOT train you for these kind of relentless hills!)
Mile 11: 8:58
Mile 12: 9:56- a bathroom stop, but still feeling okay. This is the third marathon that I have had to stop to pee during (Houston, Indianapolis, and Atlanta.) I need to figure that part out.
Mile 13: 9:09– The first 13 miles were with the half marathoners; we basically dropped them off at the finish and kept going. What a mental mindf*ck!! Turning off to head out for 13.1 more miles was a challenge. And I could see what was ahead of me, which was highways, on-ramps, more hills…
Mile 14: 9:14 – I was supposed to see Christie and Dustin at this mile, but apparently they missed me. At this point, I had taken off my Louva arm sleeves, gloves, ear band, and even my SPI belt and had been carrying them in my hand with hopes to drop them with Dustin. I was a little annoyed to have to continue carrying them. I could have just tossed them, but the Louva arms sleeves aren’t sold anymore, so I didn’t want to lose them!
Mile 15: 9:52- After not seeing Dustin, I started to let the negative thoughts in. “This is really hard.”
And guess what? Another big climb.
Mile 16: 9:20- “Okay Jessie, just 10 more miles. You can run 10 miles. You run 10 miles before work during the week. Just keep moving forward, no matter how slow.”
Mile 17: 9:28-.….”Don’t give up. You’re going to see Dustin and Christie soon. Pretend to run! Fake it til you make it!
Finally I did see Dustin and Christie here. I couldn’t help but give them a thumbs down, but I’m pretty sure they already knew that!
Mile 18: 9:10- Maybe some downhill here? Not sure what happened.
Mile 19: 9:30- I started to really lose it. Uff.
Mile 20: 9:05– More downhill. That helped.
Mile 21: 9:52– Uphill. Some walking.
Mile 22: 10:14– I felt like Brittany in Brittany Runs a Marathon. “Am I moving backwards?”
Mile 23: 11:47- Yeah, there was some walking here. I really tried to resist walking as much as possible; generally I was running, just slowly!
Mile 24: 11:28– Longest Mile. Ever.
I saw Dustin and Christie again here. Dustin said “Just finish this thing Jessie!”
(Mile 24 and look at the lack of crowds…)
Mile 25: 11:00– I knew we were getting close to the finish as we were back downtown again, but there was literally no one cheering.
Mile 26: 10:42- So close.
Finish Time: 4:14:59– DONE.
I found Dustin quickly at the finish. I didn’t even have a gear check bag for this one, so after grabbing a chocolate milk (which I never drink, but after a marathon it tastes pretty good!) and we made our way back to the hotel.
This marathon was a humbling experience for sure. I was so cocky going into this that I figured I could run under 4 hours no problem
Lessons were learned…
- You have to train on hills for a hilly marathon.
- Training on the treadmill does not translate well to a hilly marathon.
- I need to have a “why” to push myself. The mental part of the race is really, really important. Positive self-talk is incredibly important for me to keep my head in the game.
- A sub-4 hour marathon is never a given.
- Running with a cold affects your performance (duh!); I ran the Antarctica Marathon sick as well, and that didn’t go so well.
But as much as I wanted to quit this one, I didn’t. I finished. Marathon 34 complete. State 23. Only 27 states to go!
Right after the race, my feet kept cramping up really badly; I wonder if I was more dehydrated than I thought. It was warm with the sun, but not that hot. I thought I was hydrating enough during, but I definitely came up to each aid station very thirsty. Some of that could have been from the cold medicine I was taking too, but the cramping was no fun.
After a shower, Dustin and I grabbed lunch in the hotel. I’m usually pretty hungry post-marathon, but this time I was feeling nauseous and couldn’t really eat.
Shortly thereafter, we joined Christie for the Coca-Cola Museum tour, which was interesting enough to pass the time. At the end, there was the opportunity to taste Coke products from around the world; I tasted quite a few and all that sugar didn’t really help my nausea!
We went back to the hotel after that to rest for a bit, before taking a Lyft to the Ponce City Market (thanks to an athlete I coach, Mansi, for the recommendation!) for dinner and some celebratory drinks.
No better time to indulge in some fried chicken than post marathon!
The Ponce City Market and nearby “Murder Kroger” were really cool. I’m glad I got to see that part of Atlanta, as I’m not sure I saw the cool parts during the marathon!
To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t really recommend the Atlanta marathon. It wasn’t just my poor performance (though that didn’t help). I didn’t think the course was very pretty, the crowds were non-existent for a bigger marathon, and the expo was dead.
Atlanta, however, is a fun place; nothing bad to say about Atlanta or the rest of the weekend! The trials were AMAZING. But out of the 34 marathons I have done, Atlanta just wasn’t one of my favorites. It felt similar to GO St. Louis or Memphis. Since Dustin didn’t run, we will be back to Georgia at some point. Let me know if you have any recommendations for others in this state!
I don’t want to close this post on a negative note though: I am still grateful to be healthy enough to run a 4:15 marathon. Running is still my passion. Not all marathons will be magical, not all marathons will be MY MOST FAVORITE EVER. But any time I get to run 26.2, I’m happy!
I’m sharing my Atlanta Marathon review as part of Running on the Fly and Confessions of a Mother Runner ‘s Weekly Rundown link up party. Check it out!
I share the concept of “treadmill fit” with my running friends. It just isn’t the same as “running fit”. I think I use different muscles and your body adapts to do less work. Particularly the glutes. Just not the same thing.
What a bummer that Dustin wasn’t registered. That had to be a surprise. And Christie didn’t run either! (she shows up in your updates frequently enough that I will just pretend she’s a friend too.)
Way to not give up. Sounds like a very challenging marathon – mentally and physically. Way to persevere and get it done.
Well, my old coach Antonio trained for his US record (at the time) for the half marathon almost exclusively on the treadmill. And Galen said he did tons of miles at 4% incline to train for the trials! But I was not doing my runs at 4%. I think treadmill running is still running and I’d rather not break a leg again on icy trails, BUT I don’t think all my treadmill miles helped me for this hilly race. 🙂 Christie had always planned just to cheer for the trials and enjoy the weekend, but Dustin was definitely bummed when… Read more »
Great point. Treadmill running is definitely still running. For me, it doesn’t fully replace road running effectively. But I still spent most of my winter miles on TM – better that than a broken leg. I think I need to be more diligent about the types of TM workouts I do, particularly greater than 1% incline.
Definitely don’t disagree! There’s always an adjustment when switching between the two 🙂 I need to live in California where it’s always running weather!
Agh out of all of the things that we can’t control on race day being sick is one of them. I went through this last fall with a half, I’d been looking forward to the race all year so I decided to run even though I was on the back end of a cold and it was pretty miserable. But cold or no cold, you still had an amazing finish time and got #34! And I agree, chocolate milk is the best post race drink ever.
Having a cold during a race is no fun at all! Just one more distracting thing over miles and miles. Argh is right!
That chocolate milk tasted delicious!
Oh man that’s a bummer that Dustin didn’t get to run, but like you said, it gives you another chance to go back to Atlanta for another marathon 🙂
Congratulations on pushing through ALL the hills on that course – I heard tit was pretty brutal, and that was from friends doing the half marathon. I can’t even begin to imagine all the hills for the marathon.
Relentless hills, I tell ya! I’m much stronger on flat courses 🙂
Aww, no matter what the circumstances, it always sucks when races don’t go well. I’m sorry. And definitely sorry about the chafing!
But hurray for finishing! That builds mental toughness, too.
Poor Dustin. 🙁
And there will always be another race. 🙂
Thank you Judy! I’ll survive to run another marathon 🙂 I’m still glad I did it!
Congrats on another marathon! When I was watching the trials, I thought that the course didn’t look very exciting. It’s hard to train for a certain type of marathon when you don’t have access to hills, for example, or heat! You did remarkably well, all things considered. BTW, I posted about my forgetfulness but I don’t think I’ve ever forgotten to register for a race, lol! Looks like you had a great time.
Well, the trials were a different course; they had them loop around multiple times for the spectators and media! But hills and wind were a common factor!
34 marathons is just huge! Sorry the race did not go how you expected and it sounds like you learned a lot from race day. Weird thing about your husband not being registered! Congrats and thanks for linking up today
Aww, thanks Deborah!
I know, he isn’t sure how that happened, but he should have double checked long before we were in Atlanta at the expo!!
Congrats on getting another state under your belt, but what a bummer that Dustin wasn’t signed up after all! I was not overly impressed with the race course when I ran the ING Georgia Marathon (I believe you earlier confirmed that it’s pretty much the same course). It was a cold and rainy day when we ran it and it was one of my slowest races. Sounds like we both left Atlanta with similar thoughts on the race.
Yep! I am pretty sure the ING Marathon is now the Publix Atlanta Marathon 🙂 Probably very similar to when you ran it. Ran and cold are no fun, I’m glad we at least had decent weather!
I can’t remember if you’ve run Route 66 or not (I think you have?), but this hilly route sounds a bit similar, except Route 66 had tons of crowd support. That race, the 13.1 runners also get dropped odd at the halfway mark, and the temptation to quite with them was strong for me (I was having weird groin/ hip issues from the second mile). I loved everything about that race except my (physical) experience LOL. These race do keep us humble, don’t they? Like you said, though, we’re lucky we can DO these races, even when they don’t go… Read more »
I haven’t run Route 66! I need to check it out for my Oklahoma race!
Sounds like a hilly one…but I’ll just need to do a better job preparing for it!
Totally agree, still lucky and fortunate to be able to do this for FUN 🙂
Congrats on the race. You had a great day. I know the feeling of mile 24 being so long. My goodness. Way to get it done.
Mile 24 is way longer than most other miles, ha!
You are absolutely right – not every race is going to be your favorite. Some just aren’t as fun. Congrats for crossing another finish line!
Thank you Angela!
The trials sound amazing! I hadn’t thought of the impact of everyone having to meet the same qualifying time. Bummer that Dustn wasn’t really registered! Sorry you struggled and didn’t meet your time goal, but you pushed through and finished looking good at least!
Thank you Coco!
Thank you for your honesty! What a shame about Dustin not being able to do it – although handy to have him look after your bag. I’m like that about choc milk too, well, I’ll want it after a super-long run but I normally dislike drinking milk at all! I have been to Atlanta and really liked it, but I would not go to the Coca Cola museum after a marathon! Urp! Did they still have Lilt representing the UK? Um, no, no one drinks that here! Well done on another marathon done, lessons learned and more importantly shared. Hope… Read more »
Haha, I don’t remember specifically about Lilt! Too funny though…
Thank you for reading and your kind words!
Having been to Atlanta numerous times, both on business and since my daughter goes to school there, I can vouch for the brutally hilly terrain. Ugh. I’m sorry it was such a tough day. I noticed even watching the trials on TV that the crowds were sparse even for the elites. What a bummer to have zero crowd support. That’s so crazy that Dustin ended up not being registered. That happened to me at a local race. All that said, congrats on pushing through the pain for the finish. I really like that medal!
I think a lot of spectators came for the trials and left during the people’s marathon!
Oh wow – when did Dustin find out he wasn’t registered?? I can totally relate to your experience. Last year I was humbled with a 4:10 and then a 4:15 marathon… not at all what I thought I’d be running. But looking back, now I think I’d be happy for those times! Sounds like it was really long day at the race for you – but congrats on getting another state and getting it done! Sorry it was a tough race.
What a fun experience seeing all the elites and being next to Sara Hall’s parents!
He found out the morning of the marathon…At first, he made a joke like, “wouldn’t it be funny if I didn’t register??? Nope. Not funny at all!
Atlanta is hilly as can be! I learned that at the Peachtree Road Race last July. I live on the coast in Florida, so it is beyond flat, and I really have no way to train for real hills! We have some intracoastal bridges, but even those are quite the same.
I can’t imagine running a marathon sick, even with just a cold, so you really did amazing considering. And that’s crazy that your husband wasn’t registered! I’m so sorry he couldn’t be out there with you. I’m sure that made a huge difference.
Thank you Jenn! I hear ya about the hills, Minneapolis doesn’t have very many, but I definitely should have sought them out…!
Congrats on finishing – that is tough when it’s hard to breathe!
Congrats on marathon #34! I’ve heard that those Atlanta hills are tough – it’s too bad there wasn’t more crowd support. Do you think since the trials were the day before that it took away from the number of spectators? And how awesome that you got to cheer at the trials!
I totally think it was the trials- people cheered their hearts out the day before and I guess they didn’t have any cheer left for the regular folk 🙂
I enjoyed reading your recap! I was there too. I knew it was going to be tough as I live in a super flat area, so I ran it without a time goal and I loved my experience there without the pressure to go a certain pace. I hope there’s a marathon offered wherever the 2024 Trials location is, so I can do both again (watching and then running)!
Thank you for reading Vanessa! You made the right just running it with no pace pressure 🙂
I agree with you on 2024- can’t wait!
congratulations lady! sounds like it was a bit tough, I’m sure being sick didn’t help you at all!!
Thank you Renee! It wasn’t an easy one 🙂
I’m so impressed you did it. I just did the 5K and it was all hills; I couldn’t imagine what the half and full marathoners were thinking! I’d never do more than a 5K in Atlanta! But funny: I was at the Kara Goucher run and also stayed at the Hyatt Regency! It sure was a fun weekend. Congrats again on finishing that beast. Don’t know how you (or any of the other finishers) did it!
Congrats on your marathon! I ran the half and that was SO HARD! I tried to make the best of it but I was still cursing. 🙂 I agree about the expo. I didn’t like it one bit. Oh well. For sure not going back there again. Again, congratulations!!
Congratulations on your race as well Zenaida! Not an easy day out there 🙂
[…] The 3 minutes fast were supposed to be around my 8k pace, but it was a challenge! Definitely some residual fatigue in the legs from the marathon. (If you missed my recap of the Atlanta marathon, catch up HERE!) […]
Weird that the expo was so dead.
Did everyone come into town earlier and go Friday or it was a small ish race, despite being sold out. Bummer that Dustin couldn’t get in.
Odd for Oiselle to have a party late when many runners would need to turn in early.
Sorry you didn’t have the race you wanted. Even aside from the lack of crowds, the course doesn’t look that interesting. Hope you’re feeling better
The muscles on Des & some of the other elites. WOW
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