Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring is Here! Atlanta Races to Run in April

I grew up in Florida, so I’ve never been fond of winter weather. While Mother Nature is inching her way to spring (enough already with the rain and gloomy skies), the calendar is showing lots of road races for runners. Here’s a list of intown events to check out:

Run for Success – April 3
The women’s engineering and technical sciences sorority, Alpha Omega Epsilon, is hosting this inaugural 5K at the Georgia Tech campus. The race benefits Dress for Success which helps low-income women dress professionally for job interviews. The race course starts and ends at the intersection of Atlantic and Ferst.

Run Before You Crawl – April 10
Running + Pub Crawl = Great Fun. Yes, the businesses of East Atlanta have created a truly unique event. The 5K race begins at 9:00 a.m. and the pub crawl starts at 10:30. As the event site states, why not replenish the calories you burned on the run with a beer (or more).

Sweetwater 420 Fest 5K – April 17
The annual Sweetwater 420 Festival delivers a weekend of music, good beer, and environmental activism. The race starts at a weekend-friendly time of 11:00 a.m. and the course travels through the Candler Park neighborhood. Proceeds benefit the Candler Park Neighborhood Organization.

Dow Live Earth Run for Water – April 18
Pemberton Place (next to the World of Coke) plays host to this global 6K event – road races, music and water education activities will take place in a 192 countries. Why a 6K? According to the event site, women and children in Africa walk on average 6 kilometers to access safe drinking water. The big draw to this event may be the post-race concert featuring Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas. A portion of the registration fees will support Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Global Water Challenge.

Take Back the Night – April 24
This Decatur event raises funds for the Dekalb Rape Crisis Center. The 1-mile run starts at 5:00 p.m. and the 5K kicks-off at 5:30 p.m. The race takes place at Agnes Scott College (ASC) and the course runs through the neighborhoods of Oakhurst and East Lake before ending back at ASC. Sign-up online or at Big Peach Running Company.

The Green Dash: Atlanta’s Earth Day 5K – April 24
Head to Piedmont Park to join fellow Atlantans celebrating Earth Day. Runners can register at Phidippides’ Ansley Park store or online at The race is limited to the first 1,000 runners. Proceeds benefit the Piedmont Park Conservancy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mother Nature was Kind to ING Georgia Runners

To rain or not rain … that was the question frustrating me all week. The forecast was not looking good for runners racing in the ING Georgia Marathon and Half-Marathon. Fortunately, weather reports are not a guarantee. While the skies looked gloomy, the mild temperature and light drizzle made for ideal running weather.

Over 18,000 runners hit the streets of downtown Atlanta early this morning. This is my 3rd year running the ING Georgia and I’m glad to see continued improvements in how the event is managed. The corrals were well organized and we moved quickly to the starting line. The crowds of spectators seemed lighter than in previous years but they were a welcomed sight. My favorite was the choir of gospel singers in the Old 4th Ward. I sure could have used those ladies singing a few hallelujahs for me around the 11-mile mark. This year my training was pretty lackluster but I surprised myself my keeping a steady, strong pace. Though my legs were aching by the 11th mile, I had enough energy and willpower to pick-up my pace during the final stretches of the race. My finish time for the half-marathon was 2:04:05 – nearly the same as last year (when my training was much stronger).

Make no mistake, this is a big event to organize and it requires lots of volunteers, police officers, equipment and food. I’m grateful for all the folks who chose to give up their Sunday morning so I could run this race. Everyone was pleasant and did their best to be helpful. The course is fantastic, taking you on a tour of some of Atlanta’s most picturesque and historic neighborhoods.

March is a tricky time of year to host a race in Atlanta. Temperatures can be sunny and 70°F or snowy and 30°F. The ING Georgia organizers lucked out this year. Hopefully their good luck will continue.

Want to repeat the fun? Sign-up for the 2011 race opens Tuesday, March 23rd with a 50% discount on the entry fee for the first 200 registrants and a 40% discount for the next 200. Any one who registers by March 30 will automatically receive a 30% discount on the entry fee.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Molly Barker knows how to bring a room to tears. At Tuesday’s celebration, the founder of Girls on the Run (GOTR) mesmerized the audience with stories of personal struggles and inspiration. Like many of us, Molly felt awkward as a girl on the verge of becoming a teenager. That free spirit that young girls radiate gives way insecurity – or as Molly calls it, “the girl box” where girls focus on being who they think they should be rather than embracing who they really are.

Through its running programs, GOTR fosters self-confidence and a healthy lifestyle among girls aged 8 to 13. When she started GOTR in 1996, Molly had 3 goals:

1.) Help girls define their values
2.) Foster connectedness and help girls build positive relationships
3.) Encourage girls to become “change agents”

In 2000, GOTR came to Atlanta. Over the past 10 years, 6,000 metro-Atlanta girls have participated in GOTR programs. The girls “graduate” by participating in a 5K with their GOTR team mates and coaches. As a volunteer for GOTR’s Fall 5K, I got to see first hand the pure joy girls experienced completing the race. I’ve run a lot of races and none matched the excitement and fun these running girls brought to the event.

As a runner and a mom, I’m grateful for people like Molly Barker and the hundreds of volunteers who help girls escape the confines of “the girl box” and stay true to their real self.

Thanks Molly!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Don’t Let Distracted Drivers Run You Off The Road

As a self-proclaimed social media junkie and corporate blogger, I’m a big fan of technology. But the growing problem of drivers using mobile devices creates a dangerous situation for runners.

According to Runner’s World, nearly 20 runners were killed by drivers in the first 10 months of 2009. And the Department of Transportation states that 80% of all car accidents are caused by driver distraction.

Atlanta roads present their own risks. Along with our famously congested roadways, sidewalks can be scarce in some neighborhoods. It can be scary – which is why it’s important for runners to plan ahead.

Here are some tips to consider:

· Think About Your Route – Parks can offer safe pathways away from traffic. If that’s not an option, choose a course with sidewalks. Run against traffic to see cars and to react to drivers who may not see you.

· Be Visible – Wear apparel that makes you noticeable to others. Reflective vests and bright colors are helpful any time of day. If you’re running during dusk or dark, add a light to illuminate yourself.

· Stay Alert – Leave iPods and headphones at home. If you have to cross a busy street, do so at a stop sign or traffic light when cars are forced to stop. And be sure that drivers see you before you cross the road.

· Wear I.D. – If the worse happens, have identification with you. Road ID is a great choice – you can have your name, emergency contacts and insurance information engraved on a shoe pocket or wrist band.

Be sure to check out recommended safety gear from Runner’s World – lots of great ideas for apparel and reflective items.

Stay safe Atlanta!