Hayriye Ayhan remembers her first Atlanta Marathon

Barbara Christopher
Industrial and Systems Engineering
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Hayriye Ayhan remembers her first Atlanta Marathon. She got so tantalizingly close. But at the 19-mile mark, she suffered severe leg cramps and did not finish. Undaunted, and with the knowledge she could do a marathon, she ran in Jacksonville. She finished, but the downside is that the Jacksonville race was only three weeks after the Atlanta race, held on Thanksgiving each year. It was very upsetting not to finish the Atlanta Marathon, said the 33 year-old industrial engineering professor at Georgia Tech. "So I ran in Jacksonville three weeks later. That," she laughs, "was not a very good idea."

Four years later, Ayhan has learned as she continues running and preparing for the Atlanta Marathon on Thanksgiving. It will be her fourth. This is the 41st running of the Atlanta Marathon and about 1,000 racers are expected for the 7:30am start. An additional 7,300 people will run the Atlanta Half Marathon, which begins at 7a.m. Marathoners will follow the 1996 Olympic course from Turner Field to Chamblee, which is also the half marathon start. Then they'll head back to the stadium along Peachtree.

The final five miles are hilly. "It is not the most challenging marathon by any means," said race director Julia Emmons, "but the thing to remember about Atlanta is that it's in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and you can't do a thing about that if you're running 26.2 miles." Ayhan and her husband, Anand Srinivasa, began running about nine years ago.

"The first time I ever ran, I could only run for five minutes," she said. Her job and her research pretty much confine her to a sedentary workday. She wasn't getting any exercise. "Running is part of my life now. The marathons, they are entertaining and engaging, but now I do just one a year," she said. She says she tries to run between 30 and 40 miles per week. Her husband used to be a running partner but injuries have kept him out of distance events. They still run together when she is not training for a distance event. She enjoys running in the mornings but has to work her running around her teaching schedule. The weather is never a factor. "If it is real bad outside, I just run on a treadmill," she said. She also does a little weight training twice a week for upper body strength. She says she has modest goals in terms of competing in distance races. "I have hopes to be under four hours and if I can, then that will be very good for me," she said.

As seen in Dekalb at Play from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISYE)

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  • Created By: Barbara Christopher
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Nov 15, 2002 - 8:00pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:07pm