Wednesday, September 2, 2015

On the road to Georgia - Hotlanta Half Marathon

I'll admit that I was worried about this race - the Hotlanta Half Marathon - when I signed up for it.  Hilly Georgia in August didn't really sound like that much of a good time but it fit my schedule so I registered. I thought I registered "old school" and sent in the paper application but I couldn't find my confirmation anywhere. After a brief moment of panic - and emailing the race folks - they confirmed that I had register and of course it was not long after that I found the original email confirmation.  I didn't get in on the lowest price but registered before the second increase. My total cost was $70.64 including taxes and fees.

I got lucky with the hotel. I had booked 10 times through and had a free room so my room cost was only $21. Although I would have to pay to park at the hotel so that was another $20 but still a good deal overall. 

And I was super excited to also finally find out that my brother KM was going to be able to go as well.  We would need to leave early Saturday morning because it would be at least an 8 hour drive and packet pickup on Saturday was only open until 6PM.  What's up with that?  Granted they have like 5 consecutive days of packet pickup but for out-of-staters, I think Saturday should be open until 8PM. But I digress. It was a challenge getting him to my house - picking him up would have been completely out of the way - but luckily my other brother was headed this direction on Friday and was able to drop him off at my house. That was a huge help. I did a few miscellaneous things around the house Friday night but we weren't up for long since we had an early start on Saturday.

Got up on Saturday, took my shower and started lugging things downstairs. You would have thought that we were going to be gone for a week! My husband took a picture of me and my brother and then after a coffee stop for me and a McDonald's stop for him, we were on the road to Georgia! Official departure time was 7:55AM. Naturally after only an hour on the road, I had to stop for a bathroom break. Then 45 minutes after that, my brother had to stop! Thankfully, this trend didn't continue or we may have missed packet pickup.

Our next stop was in Antioch, TN for gas and lunch but we got the food to go so that we could continue making progress.

The next big milestone was to find the WELCOME TO GEORGIA sign. And just like Pennsylvania, I missed it. Even if I had been on the correct side on the road, it was on a curve and nowhere safe to pull over. However we actually crossed back into Tennessee for a bit and then back into Georgia and there it was...another Welcome sign. This time there was more room to stop and it was a safer area in which to get the picture. Although we had just stopped, we then stopped 15 minutes later at the Georgia Welcome Center.

Georgia Welcome Center
Although it was a late Saturday afternoon, Atlanta traffic was heavy. I'm not a fan of driving in "big city" traffic but I had to have on my big girl pants and just do it this time. So glad that I have OnStar as a copilot which makes getting around in those types of situation much easier.

Obviously we weren't exactly sure where packet pickup was but the road we were on - which was the street address for the running store  - had NO street parking. So when we only had a 1/4 of a mile to our destination, we took a side road and parked in a 20 minute spot. I set my timer and we were off. There wasn't too much to look around at in the store; it was your basic running store. But I do wish I had looked at the event shirt while there because it was a cotton T-shirt and I would have purchased one of the cute running shirts I saw there.

Traffic was a hot mess - backed-up and bumper-to-bumper - trying to get to the hotel. Once at the hotel, there were NO carts so basically my brother and I each took a load in and then I staged him with that stuff in the lobby while I schlepped the rest of it in. Same routine getting everything up to the room. I took as much as I could up while he stayed with the rest of it but we piled it all on and just made one trip up together with everything that was left.

Finally after everything was dragged up to the room and we decided to walk to where we "thought" the race start would be. SCORE!!!  Two blocks from the hotel. We were then just a hop, skip and a jump from Centennial Park so we walked over there to check it out. I had been there before (in 2003 with my husband) but I don't think my brother had ever been. For those of you that don't know, the 1996 Olympics were held in Atlanta. 

Scenes from Centennial Park

Olympic Rings Fountain

It was almost 7:00pm and we needed to find some place to eat. After not much success finding a pasta place, we were just a few blocks away from a Hard Rock cafe so we decided to just go there. It would have been a 30-45 minute wait, but two chairs opened up at the bar so we hustled up there and grabbed them.  Surprisingly, Hard Rock doesn't have any pasta dishes other than their Mac & Cheese. That didn't really sound good so we both got the chicken breast sandwich - with many alterations to its original preparation style. My brother is not a drinker - never had a drink in his life - so it was weird to see him sitting at the bar.  Of course Hard Rock plays music videos the entire time most of which he didn't recognize but he liked that they played a Frank Sinatra video and then got a big kick out of the Village People YMCA video especially since the entire restaurant was singing and playing along.

There was a CVS just a few steps away so we stopped in there for a few items and then it was back to the hotel to get stuff ready for the next morning and then go to bed. The alarm was set for 5:00AM.

The hotel ended up being sort of rundown and janky but we had a nice view of Centennial Park from our room.

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