The Fallen Heroes of Georgia 5K & 10K was like no race that I had run thus far, and certainly not like any of my training. I thought it would be the same: I didn’t get enough sleep, wasn’t in the mood to run, and was annoyed with my body for not wanting to eat anything for breakfast. But my mood changed quickly.
The atmosphere altered when I was surrounded by men and women in military fatigues. American flags rippled in the morning breeze. It was beautiful and humbling. Everything reminded me that I had no real reason to complain about anything. Ever.
Near registration stood a monument that honored service members from the state who lost their lives in combat. Their names and letters to and from family were posted near their photos. I couldn’t go through all of the images. I tried not to act too solemn around my husband and friends but stuff like that really leaves an impact on me.
Rifle fire announced the start of the race. Most people ran the 5K. I soon understood why.
Lake Lanier Islands are plagued with hills! I try not to study race maps before a run because I don’t want to psych myself out but it really would’ve helped this time. I kept expecting the hills to taper into a flat area, or at least have more decline than elevation gain since we were near a lake. Nope. Nope. And Nope. Constant, broad rolling hills kicked my butt from the very beginning.
Mind-blowing revelation: I need to do more training on hills! I LOVE coasting downhill. The momentum helps me make it back to the top (sorta) but I feel like I’m sprinting, crawling, walking, sprinting, crawling, walking and I’m sure that’s not right. *wry smile*
With that said, it was a beautiful race! Passing by the little inlets of the lake was always a pleasure. The occasional breeze made its way through the trees. It was in the high 40s and I was overdressed so I appreciated the wind this time. It was nothing like Myrtle Beach.
I also appreciated Alejandro, who played cheerleader and photographer. He waited for me midway, with his broad smile, winking through the viewfinder as he snapped photos. A mile-3 kiss gave me a burst of energy, too!
Another surprising boost came from the photos of service members along the way. I was feeling tired (damn hills!) and I thought the images would just make me stop and bawl. Instead, they were so inspiring. They reminded me why I was running and I felt blessed to be able to honor those men and women with such a simple, natural action.
The finish line felt amazing. I was proud of myself for making my goal time in spite of the hills. I was rewarded with…a bottle of water. Momentarily, I was hoping for a cute little souvenir but then I remembered that race money was going towards a worthier cause. As it should!