Running the Publix Half-Marathon

I saw the sign
The author near the finish

“Don’t poop your pants.”

This certainly is sage advice, though I’ll admit I was surprised to see it imparted on a handwritten sign, held up by a spectator, at the Publix Half-Marathon this past Sunday.

Though I’ve run several races in the past, including a sprint triathlon and two 15Ks, this was my first 13.1-mile road race.

I woke at 5 a.m., a full three hours before my two kids and well before the sun, to take MARTA to Centennial Olympic Park. There was a place to check our gear, and though the line was long for the porta-potties it didn’t take long to get through it.

It was perfect 50- to 60-degree weather and a well-organized start. The other runners were polite and efficient, even the guy with the bright-green mustache taped to his face (that couldn’t have been comfortable once the sweat started). Along the route, which went through a variety of Atlanta neighborhoods, the usual marathon-related garbage was lightly scattered in the road (empty paper cups, spent packets of Gu, banana peels, sequins from costumes) along with some non-traditional race debris like chicken bones, a lonesome sock, and two smushed squirrels.

Posted all along the course were enthusiastic spectators, many of whom were dressed in green and swigging beer from Solo cups in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

I saw some signs of the typical variety: “Go Mom,” “You Can Do It,” and the like. But some fans took it to another level. The poop one, for instance, was pretty inspired. Here are some of my other favorites from the race:

“Run, stranger, run!”

“You’re all Kenyan to me.”

“Gina, you look skinny!”

“Runners have balls. Other athletes just play with them.”

“If this was easy, it would be called your mother.”

“Nipple chafing turns me on.”