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A2A 2001 report

skatey-mark's picture

(Posted this on my website a long time ago... Reposting here for Blake's A2A history project.)


On Sunday, October 7th, I skated 86 miles from Athens, GA to Atlanta, GA. This was the culmination of much training and the accomplishment of a major goal I set for myself over a year ago. It's also pretty cool that, having just turned 30, I'm probably in the best shape of my life.

Like so many prior accomplishments, I did this totally on my own. So it seemed appropriate, familiar even, that I drove down by myself, entered the race by myself, etc... In fact, during much of the race, I was skating completely by myself -- surprising considering the number of skaters involved. I'd say that for at least 4 out of the 9 hours, there weren't any other skaters in sight... So this was a totally self-directed challenge. I did it to prove to myself that I could, and that's it. Achievement is truly its own reward.

Anyway, I took a minicassette recorder with me to record some of my thoughts during the race. (And prior to the race.) So here's a transcript of what was on the tape...

4:00 PM, Saturday: Just got done with registration. Went smoothly, once I found the right place. There was sort sort of "clog dancing" event going on at a different part of the building. Had to ask where the skate registration was. What a bunch of weirdos... Clog dancing...

"Skate Expo" was pathetic. There were only 2 booths there, Nike and Rollerblade. Nike skates look kinda cool though.

Drove around & found where to park in the morning -- streets near Classic Center are going to be closed off. Found a parking deck a block away and figured out how to get to it from the hotel without going on any of the closed streets. It costs a whopping $2 a day to park there... :)

Found out only bananas and oranges are given during the race -- no PowerBars. Gonna go find a Kroger and buy some PowerBars.

Found out hotel restaurant doesn't open until 7:00 am -- too late for me to get breakfast before the race. Gonna grab some instant oatmeal while I'm at Kroger also.

On my way to Kroger, passed by "The Varsity" restaurant, which evoked memories of a Grateful Dead concert in Atlanta some years back. After the concert, we went to The Varsity in Atlanta and while there, I threw up in front of a cop. Doh!

Beginning of the course may be hillier than I thought -- there are lots of hills around my hotel and the Classic Center (where the race starts.)

A little worried about tomorrow, but I think I'll be okay. I'm concerned about transport back to Athens though -- if it's not until after the awards, I won't get back here until at least 8:30, which means I won't get back home until 1:30 am.

4:43 PM, Saturday: Still need to kill some more time before the meeting at 6:00. Guess I'll watch some tv.

Next year, definitely need to have someone else along to provide "support" along the way. Bring food, etc...

7:50 PM, Saturday: Had a "pep talk" at 6:00, but I don't think it did anything except worry me about the race. The dude kept talking about all the hills we were going to have to climb during the race. He did mention the one big hill that we go down -- I don't recall what the top speed ever recorded on that hill was. But apparently, the speed limit (for cars) used to be 25 mph in that area. After many years of clocking skaters going 40-45 mph down the hill, they finally raised the speed limit to 45 mph. I'm actually in the truck right now, on the way to the store to pick up batteries for the tape recorder... Don't want to worry about the batteries dying on me during the race. Mmmmm... Dairy Queen... Might have to get some ice cream... Nothing else interesting at the meeting. It's the 20th anniversary of the race, yadda yadda yadda... Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, yadda yadda yadda... Talked to a chick at the Nike booth for a little while about their new line of skates coming out. They're going to be in stores in November. They look pretty cool, but I think I'll probably hold off until they make a 5-wheel skate... They should have them at Dick's, so maybe I'll swing by there and try a pair on at least. They look really comfortable... After the pep talk, went and got a bite to eat at a place called Harry's Sports Bar and Grill. Had a beer and some Buffalo Chicken Tenders, which were mediocre... Football game was on -- got to watch Louisiana State get their BUTTS BEATEN SENSELESSLY by Florida State. Got a little satisfaction out of that, since Nick Sabin is the coach for LSU now, after defecting from Michigan State. Serves him right.

Done shopping, got fresh batteries for the recorder now. Got behind the dumbest person in the world in the checkout line, of course... Time for some Dairy Queen action now...

5:30 AM, Sunday: So incredibly tired. Realize I don't have a spoon to eat the instant oatmeal I bought last night. But Dairy Queen cup is still sitting on the table, so I use the spoon from that.

6:00 AM: Just got out of the shower. Didn't sleep well last night -- kept waking up. Kept thinking the alarm wasn't going to go off and they'd forget to do my wakeup call. Had a dream that I woke up at 7:30 and was scrambling around trying to get ready in time for the race. Got plenty of time now.

6:52 AM: Just about ready to go. Took a preemptive dose of ibuprofen. Got several other doses that I'll take during the race. Hopefully that will keep down on the pain. Gonna eat my first PowerBar of the day here shortly. Getting ready - got everything packed up. I think that's it. Ready for the big thing.


0 hrs, 7 min: 7 minutes in, feelin good. Got a good pace going. Just about out of town. We'll see how it goes.

0 hrs, 37 min: Climbing up hill right now. (gasp, gasp) Got a real nice view of the behind on this chick about 15 minutes ago. Pretty cool. Still feeling pretty good. Talked to someone else who said these hills are just the beginning though. This is a lot hillier than I thought it would be. (gasp, gasp) I think I'll be alright though. I'm pretty far ahead of a pack of people, so I'm definitely not the slowest guy here. We'll see what it's like later though.

2 hrs, 30 min: I think I'm getting blisters on my insteps. I should probably stop and take a look. Plus my toe hurts. About a half hour ago, we had to skate over this god-awful rough asphalt for about 40 minutes. Lost all feeling below my knees. It was really bad. That's when my big toe started hurting. Still feeling good. Had another PowerBar. Should be coming up on the next checkpoint pretty soon. Weather is awesome today. A little chilly when we first started out, fingers got pretty cold. It's probably about 10:00 am right now, and the temperature is perfect. Probably about 65 degrees. Had a skating buddy there for a while, but she's fallen behind. Haven't seen her in a while. I suspect I'll see her again eventually.

Just tried to get out of someone's way, and got in their way instead. The turns are marked pretty well, so that's good. I think I see my skating buddy about 50-100 yards back. Just see one guy in front of me right now. I'm a little worried about the last part of the race, where we actually skate through the city of Atlanta. Haven't done much in-city skating. We'll see how that goes.

3 hrs, 0 min: Just passed some people that said it's 10 miles to the halfway point. But it's not really the halfway point, because it's 38 miles. The rest of it is supposed to be flatter after the 38 mile point. So hopefully it'll take about the same amount of time to do the second half, even though the distance is longer. ETA will probably be 4 hrs, 15 minutes. Probably right around 9 mph that I'm skating.

4 hrs, 0 min: Just passed the 38 mile checkpoint. Making good time so far. I'm gonna have some major blisters when I get done. Hopefully it'll be a little smoother from here on out. Refilled the CamelBak. Got a couple PowerBars ready.

4 hrs, 15 min: Been a long time since I've seen another skater. I was starting to doubt that I was on the right trail still, but I think I am because even though they asked us not to litter, I see an occassional water bottle, banana peel, or powerbar wrapper. So I think that's a sign that I'm still on the right path.

5 hrs, 0 min: Just passed mile # 50. Making damn good time. Just got onto a four lane road. This looks like it's gonna suck.

5 hrs, 30 min: Waiting at an intersection for the light to change. No cop at this one to stop traffic. Feet are really starting to hurt, but I think I'm just gonna have to suck it up and go. I'm afraid if I get the skates off, there's no way they're going back on.

5 hrs, 35 min: Just passed checkpoint 4 -- 56 miles... 30 miles to go...

6 hrs, 30 min: Lots and lots and lots of PAIN. Probably got about 20 miles to go. I think I can suck it up and finish at this point.

6 hrs, 46 min: Finally see some more skaters. Haven't seen any since the last checkpoint. So that's somewhat encouraging.

7 hrs, 13 min: Just passed a checkpoint. 71 miles... 15 miles to go. At this point I'll definitely finish before the course closes, because I have over 2 hours to do 15 miles. Not a big deal. Definitely will finish in under 9.5 hours.

8 hrs, 2 min: I am so ready for this to be over. Haven't hit the last checkpoint yet. Only 8 miles to the finish after the next checkpoint. I hope it's coming up soon.

8 hrs, 3.5 min: Just passed the checkpoint. 8 miles to go.

8 hrs, 20 min: Still alive. Glad this is almost over.

8 hrs, 27 min: Hitting Atlanta city limits. F--k my feet hurt. F--k I am tired.

8 hrs, 59 min: Just passed someone who said there's a 1/2 mile left. Thank God!


11:26 PM: Driving my ass back. Don't know how far I'll get tonight. Original plan was to drive all the way home. But I'm getting pretty drowsy. Gonna keep talking to try to keep my mind alert. To recap the end of the race... Get into Atlanta and I'm cruisin along and bam -- more of that rough-ass asphalt again. It was bad enough at the beginning of the race when we had to go over 6 miles of it and it took 40 minutes to get through it. This wasn't that long, maybe a mile of it, but at that point my feet were so sore, it was just torturous goin over that s--t. So basically you're skating along wondering when you're gonna get to turn off this damn road. And you get to the next intersection and the marker says to go straight through and you're thinking "F--k man, when are we gonna get off this road?" Eventually we did get off the road. The rest of it was fairly uneventful. Came up to another intersection with pretty heavy traffic. It was at the entrance to Piedmont Park, where the finish line was. So I'm waiting at the light, and I'll be damned if I didn't go to cross the street and I fell. I made it the whole damn way, then I trip in the last quarter mile. But it wasn't bad -- landed on my wristguards. Didn't hurt anything. Got up and made my way to the finish line.

Someone was announcing "here comes another skater" over a PA system. Could see the finish line. HUGE sense of relief. Finished strong -- I was determined to look semi-cool when I crossed the finish line. It was about 9 hrs and 6 minutes. Not bad at all -- would have been nice to do it in under 9 hrs, but I'll take 9:06 any day. Especially it being my first time, and the fact that I just wanted to finish fast enough that they didn't have to pick me up in the truck if I had fallen too far behind. Just wanted to complete the race on my own -- the whole thing -- which i did.

Of course I didn't have shoes or anything with me. And I had been skating since about mile 10 knowing that I was getting blisters. Took my skates off and I had massive, massive blisters on the instep of each foot. It's gonna take quite a while for those to heal. I'm guessing no skating for at least 2 weeks, not that I'm in any hurry to skate. In fact, there probably won't be much exercise of anything for the next couple weeks. Just about any exercise I do requires my feet. So then they were out of Subway sandwiches, which we were supposed to have. So I grabbed a couple bananas -- I was totally sick of eating PowerBars all day.

So I ask where we're supposed to go next and apparently it's the Sheraton, about two blocks away. So I start making my way over there, barefoot. Get in there, and I'm pretty f--kin hungry. So I ask where the restaurant is, and I'm looking like s--t at this point. They point me upstairs, and it's this little sports bar type of thing. Got a table -- was actually surprised they seated me, looking the way I did. Ordered some wings and some nachos. Wings came out first, so I ate those. Only ate about half the nachos -- got full pretty fast. Stomach will probably be a little weird for the next day or so. Not used to this sort of thing. Got done, made my way downstairs and found a seat in the room, and the awards ceremony started within 3-4 minutes of when I sat down. Good timing...

They gave out awards for the overall winners, then the winners in each age group. They had so many prizes, they kept going and worked their way down to 5th, 6th, 7th places... Even after all that, they still had a bunch of videos left. So then the guy says anyone who wants a price, come on up and grab one. So there's a mad rush up to the front of the room... I did get one of the videos... Awards ended around 7:00 PM. The bus to go back to Athens didn't leave until 7:30. Then we got going, but had to turn around and go back because they forgot someone or something. Got into Athens at almost exactly 9:00 PM.

So I made my way over to the truck and changed into a fresh set of clothes. Started driving about 9:10. It's about 11:35 now. The directions on Mapquest sucked. Fortunately, I had printed out directions from the website for the Athens Classic Center. So I was able to follow those (in reverse) to get back to the main highway out of Athens. But I did miss my turn and ended up taking a slightly longer route back to I85. Once I realized I had probably missed my turn I pulled into a gas station and checked the map. Got lucky and the road I was on went straight to I85. Got gas, a soda, and started driving again.

Was getting really tired and pulled into a rest area. Was gonna take a nap, but kept thinking someone was gonna try to break into the truck while I was sleeping. So got back on the road and started driving. After about 15 minutes, started nodding off again. I've pretty much decided I need to pull over and find a hotel for the night. Called Amy and told her I wouldn't be back tonight. Just talking to someone on the phone woke me up a little bit. Blew right past the exit I was gonna take. Thought my new found alertness might last long enough to get me to NC border. Still tired - need more caffeine. I don't think caffeine will be enough though.

Getting super tired again. Barely can keep my eyes open. Should stop now, but really want to get to North Carolina.

Alright - f--k it. I'm way too f--kin tired. Next Days Inn I see I'm gonna stop.

8:46 AM Monday: Got up and got back on the road. Stayed at a Comfort Inn last night. Dumbass at the Days Inn had the doors locked and I didn't see a window to go to or anything. He should have been able to see me from the counter, but didn't seem very interested in helping me. Of course, i probably looked like a hooligan or something. Gonna stop at McDonalds before getting back on I85. Breakfast at the Comfort Inn was pretty pathetic. A little table out in the lobby that had a waffle maker and some donuts on it. Drive should be uneventful...

10:18 AM: Definitely taking another nap when I get home. Pretty tired. Today will be pretty much a "do nothing" day, which is basically what I planned on anyway. No danger of me nodding off at the wheel, but I definitely need some more sleep.


THAT'S IT!!!!!



sommemi's picture

Wish I had thought of a tape recorder...

That was awesome. You know, that was the same thing I did... the first A2A I did was RIGHT before my 30th birthday. It was kind of my goal... I wanted to do something big. Well, I didn't tackle the whole 87, but it still felt good. Thanks for sharing! I loved reading that!

eebee's picture

Mark's 2001 A2A Report

Ok that was absolutely hilarious! Thanks for posting it!

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