On April 18, I completed my first 5K here in Atlanta! It was the “Run Like Hell 5K” at the amazing Historic Oakland Cemetery. While the race was fun…and HILLY… I had no idea that Atlanta was full of steep hills and it was a real learning experience… I really enjoyed the experience of walking around the cemetery and seeing some of the famous and non-famous gravestones. The cemetery is absolutely beautiful and full of history, and I already can’t wait to go back and take one of their tours.
I didn’t even come close to a PR for this race. In fact, I was truly lucky to finish in just under 50 minutes, HAHA. To think I was so close to getting under 40 minutes back in Florida, running & walking on the completely flat streets there… well, it’s going to take some practice, to say the least. I’ve now focused my Orangetheory treadmill training to really include those inclines so I can be better prepared.
If you haven’t read my blog before, I should tell you, I’m not even close to being a fast runner, and I never will be! I enjoy the races for the fun and exercise, but I will never win any awards. 🙂
As for the morning of the race, it was very cloudy, cool, and had recently rained. It was the perfect setting for running in a cemetery! Here I am just before the race.
I ended up putting my jacket back in the car because I knew I would warm up plenty by the time I got started running. I arrived very early, and I was so happy that I did, since it gave me the opportunity to get situated and walk around exploring the cemetery and taking pictures. I absolutely love history, and you can just feel the history surrounding you here. It is an amazing place.
I had done absolutely zero research about the cemetery before coming here. Which, if you know me, is not like me, but considering we had literally just moved to Atlanta two weeks prior, and I was understandably very busy. I didn’t even think to look anything up beforehand. I had no idea that there was an entire section dedicated to the Confederate soldiers of the Civil War who died in the Battle of Atlanta. It was amazing to see this old military graveyard. National cemeteries are always an amazing, haunting, and humbling sight to see, and while this isn’t exactly a “national cemetery”, the area dedicated to the Confederate dead certainly felt and looked like one. It was one of those moments that took my breath away and made history truly come alive for me.
When I was in middle school, my American History teacher, Ms. D’Andrea, and my Language Arts teacher, Ms. McNeely, taught an incredible unit on the Civil War. Ms. D’Andrea, especially, was a huge Civil War buff and made sure that we were little 7th and 8th grade experts. Basically everything that I know today about the Civil War is due to it being drilled into my memory at 12 and 13 years old by those wonderful teachers — twenty years ago. I found myself thinking about Ms. D. and Ms. McNeely that morning wishing they could have shared the experience with me.
Pictures of the Confederate section of the cemetery are below.
Then it was time to start! 🙂
The race went through the beautiful and historic Grant Park Neighborhood of Atlanta. There is an actual city park, Grant Park, which is the oldest park in Atlanta, and the neighborhood is a Victorian style of design, which was such a pleasure to run through. I wish I had taken some photos of the neighborhood itself during the race, but I was kind of more concerned with huffing and puffing up the hills, hahaha. As I said before, I somehow didn’t know that Atlanta was so hilly. It makes sense, with us being at the foothills of the Appalachians, but I somehow didn’t put two and two together… needless to say, I was pretty sore afterwards, though I did have a great time, and I plan to do the race again next year!
Here I am after the race! I survived! That sure was a whole lot of effort just for a water bottle and a banana. 😉
Once I was properly hydrated, I stuck around for a while longer to explore the cemetery a bit further. I was delighted to find the Old Jewish Burial Grounds. It was small but so interesting. I loved seeing the beautiful gravestones with Hebrew writing. Some stones listed the person’s country of origin. So many in this section (like many all over the cemetery) were the graves of children, incredibly sad.
This one was just heartbreaking!
This view from the side of the Jewish Burial Grounds shows the famous bar – Six Feet Under – a popular spot in Atlanta next door to the Cemetery.
There were many other fascinating, sad, and interesting gravesites throughout the cemetery.
This one, filled with plants, was beautiful and eye-catching. Then I realized that it was the grave of a parent and a small child. 🙁
Here is the grave of one of the first mayors of antebellum Atlanta, James E. Williams.
This set of graves was so interesting to me. Mother, Father, Son – with the inscription, “My Only Boy,” and their daughter, with a smaller grave than the rest.
Not only was everything green, as you can see in the photos above, but the colorful plants and flowers had also begun to bloom. Their fragrance was beautiful!
Finally, I enjoyed this last view of the cemetery. A mix of old and new – you can see the skyscrapers in the misty, cloudy distance, layered by the MARTA train passing by just a block away. It’s easy to go to places like this and feel like you’ve been transported to another world or time. That’s why I love that we moved to a city with such a rich history behind it. I love learning about the past and being in places where I feel like I am just a small piece of something huge that happened long ago. A fraction of a moment in the timeline of the universe.
All photos taken with iPhone 5s, edited with instagram and Pic Tap Go.