Peachtree Road Race 10k – An Atlanta 4th of July tradition. A.k.a the party in the morning with 60,000 of your closest friends! This year was my 3rd year “running” it and 4th year taking part in it. It was also my 6th year of being present in the race – running or cheering.
In “Training” for Dopey Challenge
The Peachtree road race was to be my training run. Not for the actual run, but in the run to make a good costume! I wanted to make something simple but standout and decided on the USO girl. As always, costume was complete at 9:30pm the day before!
Getting Ready to Party!
Unless you are a speedy runner with a higher corral number, it is very difficult to run the race for time. By the time the slower people start the sun comes up over the buildings, the hills feel longer and steeper than they did a day ago, and the mass of people can completely halt you in your tracks. But more importantly, the festive atmosphere overtakes you and there are so many things to have fun and enjoy about. How can you not stop to enjoy at Atlanta’s largest street party?
Yes, I am still talking about the Peachtree Road Race 🙂
The race day started off with me completely ready to rock some fun! Drove down with friends, met some more friends while waiting for corrals and pictures!
I caught Amy just in time as she was finding her way into the corrals and we planned to have so much fun running together! And we did too! We started out the first mile taking pictures and selfies, until a not-so-evil thought entered my head and I sort of derailed our fun plans.
I was trying to find my Dopey buddy, Barry, with whom I ran last year. He found us within minutes of the race starting, but we soon lost him. I was sorry to see him go, but he was totally upstaging our costumes so maybe it wasn’t that bad after all 😉
After the first mile, it suddenly hit me that the weather was unusually great and suddenly made up my mind to run. I reckoned that I’d try to run a “tempo” pace of 12:14 for the remaining 5 miles since I anyway had 4 tempo miles in my plan for the Divas Half Marathon. Of course, it certainly helped that the next 2 miles were downhill and easy to hit that goal. I didn’t get too carried away with the downhills and tried to keep it in control. No point in trashing my legs downhill only to find that they wouldn’t carry me uphill. More than the loss in pace, I knew that the toll it would take on me mentally would be harder to overcome.
After those 3 downhill miles, started the long steady climb of “Cardiac Hill”. About 3/4th of the way up is the Shepherd Center. As Amy told me, “Just when you think that Cardiac Hill is too hard to climb up and you are ready to give up, you see the people of the Shepard Center.” The highlight for me, was seeing “AP” Andrew Powell, the manager of the Big Peach Running Co. Kennesaw store, out in front cheering. I ran up to him and grabbed his hand and said, “You don’t know me, but I’ve heard all about you and you are awesome.” Wishing AP a speedy recovery!
Julie found us as we were passing her on the Buckhead hills. She calls it #SmithaAndAmyPassedMe as a parody on the #MebPassedMe that the race was promoting to raise funds for Kilometer Kids along with Meb Keflezghi, the 2014 Boston Marathon winner.
When mile 4 hit, it was time to get serious if I was going to make any effort. Hills over hills over hills. I kept telling myself to focus and not give in (talking out aloud, poor Amy must’ve thought I was being crazy!).
There is a very fine mental line between pushing yourself and giving in to a host of excuses. And every single one of those excuses plus some more were running through my mind, including the fact that this wouldn’t be a “true race” since I hadn’t started seriously since mile 1 and that the Peachtree road race is all about fun and having a great time, not necessarily a great chip time. Once again I had to talk myself out of giving in and kept telling myself to just bring in an effort I’d be proud of.
The garmin told me that my HR, that I’d kept at tempo zone 3 even up Cardiac hill, was now creeping up towards Zone 4. I had NO idea if this was a good thing or a bad thing, all I felt was heat radiating off of me and the feeling that my heart was in my throat.
I kept thinking that I’d been spending $$$/mo on CrossFit and all those squats better carry me up!! My legs were surprisingly good over the hills inspite of the HR and I’d take random 20 seconds break to catch a breather before setting off again. Having Amy by my side was great! She’s a better runner and I didn’t want her to see me not able to take this on. The crowd seemed to get worse in the last 2 miles and I weaved through a lot more people than before!
Soon it was the last turn into 10th street, the fake photo finish line (I hate hate hate this with a passion – there is still 0.3/0.4 miles to go after this and its an immediate uphill after the fake finish), and then I could see the real finish line. Almost. I may have asked out aloud WhereTF the finish line was. Sprint, walk 10 seconds, sprint more, walk 10 seconds and repeat.
The fake finish line set up for the photographers is my most hated point at any race. Especially at the Peachtree because its a small but feels long and steep uphill after that.
1:15 came and went and I immediately shifted to getting under 1:16. And at the exact moment I saw the finish line, my garmin read 1:15:39 and the ONE thought in my head was 20 seconds, you can run as hard as you can for 20 seconds. And I did.
Final Garmin Stats – 6.39 miles in 1:15:59 @ 11:54 (12:54, 12:16, 11:28, 12:49, 12:02, 11:07, 9:25 for the last 0.39 miles)
My previous best 10k time (also at Peachtree road race 3 years ago) was 1:18:24. A PR by a good chunk!
The rest of it to pick up the coveted TShirt and some delicious food was all a blur. I was on a high and kept telling so to everyone who would listen 🙂
I know I missed out on a lot of photo opportunities because I put away my phone after mile 1. But the fact that I pushed myself at the end and didn’t give up made me proud and I’m glad I made the decision to race that day, even though belatedly.
More importantly, after the race, I reckoned that I could “run” if I needed to. Maintaining a 11:07 and then 9:25 pace on those final mile hills were no joke. The fact that I ran the first three miles conservatively reinforced that I still know how to pace myself to a strong finish. And I guess Crossfit helps up the hills, after all, at least in a shorter distance race.
Did you run the Peachtree Road Race (or any other 4th of July race)? Amy from Moms Magical Miles, Julie from Run Walk Fastpass Repeat and I are hosting a Link party. Post your recaps here or leave a comment!