Somewhere around mile 4 when the tornado siren went off I felt like I was in a weird scene from the Wizard of Oz. There’s something about a tornado siren going off in the middle of a race that is very unnerving. I am getting ahead of myself. When I woke up the morning of the Albany Georgia 1/2 marathon it was a balmy 72 and 90% humidity. I had to blink a few times. Surely that can’t be right for March 3rd. It was indeed 72 degrees. I love winter running. I will take a nice run at 30-40 degrees any day. 72 degrees for a race? Not so much. From the radar it looked like most of the rain was going to miss us. Not really what I wanted if it was going to be that warm, but then it’s March racing in Georgia. I can’t a remember a March race that has not had wacky weather. Usually wacky cold swings with rain. Although there was that year a tornado came through Atlanta just days before my first marathon.
I found some friendly team in training folks from Atlanta that I knew, and hung out with them in the starting gate. The commentator was a little wacky. Besides getting the starting time wrong he got really excited about a spot of blue sky. Maybe we’ll stay dry after all, he said. Not a minute later it started raining. So we waited for 3 minutes in the rain for the race to start. And then we went uphill, and it started pouring. I fortunately had planned ahead and had a towel from the hotel in the car for the drive back to the hotel post race. The first 3 miles weren’t bad, and I stuck pretty close to the plan of 9:00 miles. It didn’t take long for the first few rumbles of thunder to start and hint of something that was to come. Other racers started getting excited that the rain was starting to take a break. Me, not so much. I knew it meant ridiculously humid. I don’t run well in ridiculously humid especially when it’s been 6 months since the last time I’ve experienced it. After turning off the main drag, and heading around a park we started to hear it. People started looking around. “Wait is that really? A tornado siren? Yes I think it is. Well What do we do now?” Albany is a small race of about 2,000 runners (such a nice, refreshing change from the last few races) and there was not a course marshal to be seen. So, we kept running. To be honest there was no where to go even if we needed to other than knocking on someone’s door and hoping they would take pity on us. At some point some instructions starting coming over a loud-speaker, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was being said.
We circled around lots of nice looking neighborhoods that had lots of inclines. They were certainly not hills by Atlanta standards, but they only seemed to go up not down… And then the rain started again. I was actually kind of glad. While the fluid cups had been full at the beginning of the race I was lucky to get more than a few sips of Gatorade or water by this point. I even backtracked at one stop to get a second cup. The humidity was definitely getting to me and as much as I wanted to stop and be done with everything I am not a quitter. I tried to focus on my form and do my best to try to get my splits down. No matter how I tried they were stuck in the 9:20-9:30s even when the rain came back. For a couple of miles it was just a drizzle, but the closer I got to the finish the harder the rain got and by mile 12 the thunder started back up. The volunteers were great about cheering us on. I think the ones close to the finish knew that people were struggling with the weather. I had a good chuckle with one who was reminding everyone to remember to breathe. “I need to breathe while I run,” was my reply. He just laughed. I have to say one nice thing was the fact I was wearing my team in training visor and the end of the race was by the hospital. There were several people in the last mile who recognized the logo, and I got a few “go teams.” After what seemed like forever I was finally heading downhill, and making the last turn to the finish. The announcer saw me coming and cheered me into the finish. “That’s right Bonnie let’s finish this thing up!” Truer words have never been spoken. I can’t even being to wrap my head around the people who were running the full because it went from raining hard to pouring. Ah yes, March race weather you are truly wacky!
I’m glad it’s done. Not because I didn’t enjoy the city or the route. I had been over the weather since the tornado siren. Feeling vulnerable while running is not the best feeling. I loved not getting elbowed, and having plenty of space. I didn’t mind that there weren’t many people out cheer. Heck I was impressed anyone was out cheering in the weather. It was a nice small race. Just what I had expected, and wanted. Hey mother nature I have a suggestion for March 2014. No more wacky weather at races okay? Could you work on that please!