Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It was a fabulous fourth!

On New Year's Eve, Nathan and I joined Fitness 19 and agreed we would do the Peachtree Road Race together. A 6.2 mile run, the Peachtree is the traditional kickoff for Atlanta's fourth of July celebration. Matter of fact, we decided to make a weekend of it. I booked us a room in my favorite downtown hotel, the Ellis, and we started training.

I was doing great until I got sick. Since our cruise, I have done little besides teach piano and sleep. It just didn't seem wise to work out while I was coughing and wheezing. Then Nathan got sick, too. We weren't sure whether or not we would be able to follow through with our plans.

But we were feeling a little bit better by the weekend, and we decided we could be miserable in a luxury hotel as easily as we could be miserable at home. And since first night was already paid for, on Saturday afternoon we loaded up the Honda, drove downtown, and checked into our lovely room at the Ellis.

Unfortunately, although I had booked a room with two double beds, the room we were shown to had only one. The sweet receptionist, Michelle, had no explanation for this; my confirmation, dated December 31, 2009, clearly showed that I had reserved two double beds. Unfortunately, there was little she could do to remedy the situation, as the hotel was completely booked for the night, and there were no other rooms available. But since I wasn't willing to settle for an apology, she offered to let us stay in the room for half price. Two nights for the price of one. I was delighted.

The Ellis is located just one block down from the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, and it has long been a dream of mine to dine in the revolving Sundial Restaurant and take in the view of the city from 723 feet. So we made our way to the hostess station in the lobby of the hotel. We didn't have a reservation, and it turned out we we weren't wearing the appropriate attire, either. Instead, the hostess gave us the option of having a light bite and a drink in the Sundial Lounge above the restaurant. A perfect compromise.

The scenic glass elevator is still being repaired following tornado damage in March 2008, so we had to content ourselves with riding up to the 72nd floor in a regular elevator. Believe it or not, our ears popped! When we reached the top, we took a seat; Nathan ordered a Coke and I sipped a Georgia Peach martini (vodka, peach schapps, and orange juice). The day was clear and it was a lot of fun to look out the windows and identify city landmarks and outlying residential areas. Naturally, I embarrassed Nathan by whipping out my iPhone and taking lots of pictures.

About an hour later, after completing one entire revolution, we left the Sundial and made our way down the street to Mama Ninfa's Mexican restaurant.

Like good little athletes, we loaded up on carbs; then, with full tummies and sleepy heads, we retired to our room, climbed into our soft bed and drifted off to sleep.

Morning came early. We got up at 6:30, changed into our running gear, walked across the street and boarded the MARTA train, and rode to Lenox Station in Buckhead. We followed the crowds and figured out where to go. Our wave started shortly before 9AM. We were off!

I don't run; I walk, so it wasn't long before Nathan left me in his dust. But it is impossible to feel lonely surrounded by 55,000 other participants. The streets were lined with volunteers,
radio station vans, live musicians, local business people, politicians, and well-wishers, ready with hydration and encouragement. There were sprinklers and hoses and fire hydrants open, too - along with a handful of youngsters armed with Super Soakers and an Episcopal priest sprinkling willing runners with "holy water."

You have to see it to believe it.

Halfway there!

I took my time; I stopped once in a vain attempt to score a free t-shirt from Moe's Mexican restaurant, and once to use the potty. But slow and steady finishes the race, too; a little more than an hour and a half after I started, I crossed the finish line.

Only those who finish the race receive a t-shirt. I am very proud of mine.

After the race, we indulged in free fruit donated by Publix and free ice cream and popsicles donated by Blue Bell. Then we made the long hike to the Midtown MARTA station and rode the train back to our hotel. Refreshed following a shower and a change of clothes, we felt inspired to go back to Lenox Mall and have a light lunch in the food court and do a bit of window shopping. Eventually, we made our way back to the Ellis Hotel and our soft bed and indulged in a well-deserved nap.

We started our evening with dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, just across the street from the Westin, and then headed to Centennial Olympic Park for the fourth of July celebration there.

Waiting for the fireworks

There was live music and refreshments. We arrived just in time to hear the headliner band, Smithereens. I grooved to the music and people-watched. I should have taken my notebook with me. There was a lot to see.

Finally, darkness fell and the show began - arguably the BEST fireworks display I have ever seen, with rockets coming from three directions and a semi-patriotic soundtrack. Then, just when we thought it was all over, we were surprised with the REAL grand finale.


As it does every July 4th, the night ended too soon. I was grateful not to have to fight the crowds and traffic to get home; instead, we made the short walk back to the hotel and our comfy quarters. We were asleep in no time.

We slept quite late, and I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that I could barely walk when I first woke up yesterday morning. My legs were wobbly and my back was sore. The pain was a little less this morning; determined to keep up the momentum, I dragged myself to the gym this afternoon. But I didn't kill myself; I did just 30 minutes on the elliptical machine. It felt good.

All in all, it was a great weekend. I knocked items 27 and 51 of my Amazing Life List, and made some wonderful memories with Nathan. Who could ask for more?

I am on call for jury duty for the next two weeks. Thankfully, I didn't have to report yesterday nor do I have to report tomorrow. Will my luck hold out? Time will tell. In the meantime, I plan to ease back into my daily routines - morning pages, exercise, writing - and to finish up some beading projects and get a few items for sale in my Etsy shop by week's end.

And stay healthy.

I would love to hear how you celebrated Independence Day. Hope you are having a wonderful summer!

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