Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's a Peachtree Kind of Day....

This weekend is BIG in America! It's the 4th of July, the holiday that celebrates our independence, our journey as a nation.

While you may not be celebrating at your house (depending on which continent you live), you're welcome to stay and celebrate with us. And while I can provide some photographs of our big day, the mouth-watering ribs and succulent corn-on-the-cob will have to be grilled and cooked over at your place!

If you decide to stay and celebrate with my family, you'll find yourself in the middle of 55,000 runners, 150,000 spectators, and 3,200 volunteers as we head to Atlanta for the 40th running of the Peachtree Road Race. This 10K race has been the mainstay of my summers since meeting my husband in 1989. No matter where we live, we try to get to Atlanta on that holiday.

Photo by National Geographic; Picnik Courtesy Me

One of the exciting things about this largest 10K on Earth is that people from all over the world descend on Atlanta to take part in this event, yet I've still randomly bumped into people I know and haven't seen in years!

Some people ask why the race is so important. If you're in the middle or back of the pack, you're definitely not vying for a fast finish. With so many feet pounding the pavement in front of, behind, and beside you, time is not a factor. Instead, you run it because you can! You are cheered on by thousands of spectators who line the route and by bands whose renditions of "Rocky" and other inspiring songs help you rise to the top of Cardiac Hill and make it one more mile to the finish line.

If you're there to watch, you have to get up early to cheer on those taking part in the wheelchair race. They begin at 6:55 a.m. sharp. Their strength and sheer willpower are amazing! Before you know it, the first men come racing by (and I do mean racing!), followed by the first female athletes. The fastest finishing time for a male is 27:04 and for a female 30:32. Ummm. Let me put this in perspective for you.... My fastest Peachtree time is about 54 minutes and that was while training for a marathon.

Here's a photo of Craig and me after that 2001 Peachtree Road Race:

Although running the Peachtree is definitely a fun experience, I still enjoy standing on the side with Hannah and cheering the runners on. Some of the people you see amaze you. There's usually a group of firefighters running in full gear. We're talking Atlanta humidity and heat. There's usually someone dressed up like the Statue of Liberty. And I'll never forget watching an older man several years in a row make his way slowly up the road with his number pinned to his shirt hours after the race was over, the barricades removed, and cars moving once again along the route. He never gave up!

While I have crossed the Peachtree finish line five times, my husband will be making this his 20th Peachtree Road Race. He's only missed three since his first race in 1987! (Go, Craig!) Here are all of his t-shirts from those 19 races!

We usually have friends join us from all over the country. When we do, we take time to "stoop" (or hang out on the front steps) after the race. This picture is from one of my non-race years when we brought Hannah with us. (Sorry about the poor photo quality. I snapped a quick picture of it this morning).

The day won't be over until we've lunched at Houston's and later taken a well-deserved nap.

I hope you've enjoyed a run-down of what's in store for our 4th of July! If you plan to be on Peachtree that day, let me know; I'd love to see you!


Mummy McTavish said...

Um, thanks for the invite but 10 Kilometres? You can do that in under an hour? I think I'd be crawling along side that man after the race had finished. I'm all for any excuse for fireworks, I'll celebrate another countries independence to get fireworks but running is just not going to be part of that deal. Sorry, maybe another weekend.

And don't you guys use miles? Why go metric for a race?

McMGrad89 said...

What a fun tradition. Ours is to go to the fireworks display at Fort Hood every year, only we don't enter the post, we park at a nearby elementary school rather fight the traffic of everyone trying to pass through the security checkpoint. We usually bring along my dad's little pick up truck so the kids can sit up on it and not get lost.

We will be there again this year. Can't wait.

Charlotte said...

Very nice write up about hanging out at the Peachtree...hope you have a lovely time...I can remember taking Craig to those early morning start times...that was back in the late 80's when I could actually drive to Phipps Plaza and drop him off...and then the last year I lived in the states and worked at Shephard Spinal Center...I worked the race with the wheelchair runners...and of course all the meals, snacks and drinks waiting for our friends as they finished the race and came back to my house... near the finish line! Ah, those were the days. I remember Craig almost crying when I moved to England and the use of my condo was no longer available. Have fun and have fun remembering the memories!

Love, Charlotte xxx

Monica said...

Fun times! I actually went to watch my dad run a race in Peachtree (not 4th of July wkd though) while I was in jr. high. He was a marathon runner and it was so much fun to cheer him on!

Caroline said...

OK...your front porch is AMAZING! I want that porch. You are so sweet and welcoming. Enjoy the race and a day filled with family, friends and pride!

Fly Girl said...

Thanks for all the comments! What fun to check in and see you all here!

Mummy McT: I have no idea why we went metric for races, but it's been that way as long as I've run a race. And as for my time, that was in 2001... today, I'll be with you and the other guy at the tail end of the race!

Annemarie: It sounds like wonderful memories in the making!

Charlotte: We definitely created great memories "stooping" with you after the Peachtree! There was nothing like it when you lived near the finish line!

Monica: I bet your dad was thrilled to have you cheering him on!

Caroline: Glad you like my porch. Now if I could just get rid of the mosquitos who like to hang out there! Have a fun fourth!

miruspeg said...

I loved seeing the photos of you and Craig. How wonderful that you both enjoy running.

And your front porch looks so welcoming Roban. So pleased to read your 4th July was such a special day for your family