PRE-RACE: Very good friends Jeff and Kendra have lived in Atlanta for 20+ years. During that time we have visited them taking in the Aquarium, a Browns/Falcons game (Browns won), Golf and the Hard Rock Cafe. Once running and racing took over much of my interests it was only natural that running the Peachtree Road Race would find its way on to my bucket list. This summer our family schedules came together and Michele and I applied for race numbers through the lottery system. It was a big day in April when we received word we got into the race. The trip to “Hotlanta” was officially on.
Michele and I drove down I-85 with an overnight stay in Spartanburg, SC. Up early the next morning we made our way to Atlanta and the Peachtree Expo. Packing for an extended race weekend is always a balancing act of bring the right stuff without over packing or forgetting something. Making this task easier this time around was that I had switched my running kit over from a cramped duffle bag to the runner inspired Performance Duffle Bag by Apera. To tell you how awesome this bag is would take over this race report so look for a featured product review coming soon. (Hint Hint, spoiler alert, I love the bag)
Going into this race I was coming off a very busy spring. I ran races of 100k, 100 Miles and 75 miles during a 24 Hour Race. All of these long races took a toll on my lower body. Especially beaten up were my feet. After the 24 Hour Run in April, I developed a bit of tendinitis in my left foot/ankle. I nursed this along the best I could but after the Windermere marathon on the 1st of June I had to take a little break. Going into the July 4th classic I had not ran a single mile the 30 days prior to the road race. With just a little bit of fear I had no idea what to expect.
EXPO: The expo was outstanding. Michele and I walked around for two hours, stashing our bags with every freebie we could get (we are not proud). We also managed to purchase a few items along the way. I was impressed at the size of the Expo and how welcoming everyone was. We found a great mixture of vendors, food, running gear, clothing, exercise equipment, power drinks and local products. Even if you’re not running Peachtree I would recommend visiting the expo for all the great deals on running and exercise related items.
WEATHER: Atlanta has a reputation for hot and steamy conditions. Going into this race I feared a hot and muggy day. Race morning greeted us with cool temperatures and near perfect race conditions. The local paper reported that this was one of the coolest starting temperatures in the history of the race.
(After the 10k)
Blue Umstead 100 technical short sleeve shirt
Black Nike dri-fit shorts
Bright Orange Nike Air Pegasus shoes
8 Layer white socks
Garmin 201 GPS watch
Blister prevention by RunGoo
Red Star Trek Command Running hat by Brain Storm Gear
Race Primer supplement by Runners High Nutrition
Travel bag by Apera “Performance Duffle”
RACE: Getting to the race, like the Marine Corp Marathon was a logistics battle as the race kicked off near downtown and parking was extremely limited. Our friends who are familiar with the mass transit system recommend we use the MARTA (subway). This worked out great getting us to the start location 1 hour ahead of my wave A start time. The drawback would be that we would not have the ability to get to any forgotten items once we left home.
Along the ride to the race staging area, we got to chat with a few local runners. One interesting fellow noticed my Umstead shirt and started a conversation. What I noticed was that this older guy was going to run the 10k in full blown firemen gear including the oxygen slung over his back. Ii wish I would have gotten a picture of him…but I did not think fast enough.
Michele, Jeff and I walked around the starting area which had plenty of port-a-potties, photographers, and pre-race festivities. We enjoyed our time hanging out soaking up the energy and getting into our race Zen. Being the 4th of July this race and the crowd that ran it offered up plenty of USA themed pride. At 40 minutes prior to start I drank my Race Primer Supplement by Runners High as we walked up to the wave sorting point. This is a well organized race and with nearly 60,000 runners…it has to be.
I started in the A wave, Michele and Jeff started in the N wave. The starting area was well organized but also locked down tight security wise. Michele and Jeff wanted to see me off and watch as my wave began the race, but with all the security in place only “wave allocated” runners could get close to their wave positions prior to race start.
START: Standing on the starting line I could not believe how nervous I was. I kept thinking to myself, you’ve run a 100 mile race, you’ve run 320 miles in five 24 hour races and finished 12 marathons. Why are you nervous? Truth is with my left foot/ankle having an issue I had no confidence in my abilities. I feared pulling up lame or not being able to run the race I wanted to run.
Thankfully I managed to forgot about this for a few minutes as “Neil Diamond’s “America” played in the background. This song always takes my breath away, and with the monster sized US flag in the background I decided to take a selfie with the Red, White and Blue flying behind me.
10 minutes or so before race start a nice girl named Rachel noticed my Umstead shirt and asked if I finished the 100 miler. I told her I had. A few people standing around us noticed our conversation. It was fun chatting with her (them) as she told me about a great web site “Run Bum Tours.” After we got done talking the nerves really set in…here I’m talking about my ultra running dreams of future 100s and I’m scared that my left foot will let me down. After the Women’s and Men’s 10k elites took off it was time for the starting command. I could not wait to STOP thinking and just run.
MILE 1: – 8:03 The start was great. Considering the large crowd it was pretty easy to get up to speed and get rolling. I felt great, but knew from the first step my foot issue was going to come back. 30 days only allowed the issue to calm down it did not fix it or allow it to heal. A lot of runners passed me during this early stage. Going into this race my goal was to run at least a 8:00 minute mile pace the whole day. Mile one…check.
Mile 2: — 7:24 Finally settled into a nice grove mile 2 provided an opportunity for the pack spread out. Peachtree is a inner city 10k and it was fun to look around at the sites of Atlanta and the other runners around me. Since this was my first race in GA it was a bonus to see all the new (to me) race and club shirts as I passed them and they passed me. The scary part of mile two was the very noticeable downhill section. According to the elevation chart the long downhill dropped 315 feet. This helped considerably with the pace. BUT I also knew what went down….must come back up. At one point during this section I remembered someone told me there would be crowds of well wishes lining the course the entire way. I took notice of this the crowds were awesome! Thank You Atlanta.
Mile 3: — 7:08 Just prior to mile marker 3 the road turned uphill. This hill is affectionately known as “Cardiac Hill” by the locals. At the 3.5 mile mark the hill crested after gaining 135 foot. I kept up a good pace and was proud of the fact that I passed a good number of runners here. In the back of my mind I wonder how this effort would affect me later on. With a good mental picture of the course in my mind I knew the later miles would offer up some nice rollers right into the finish. For an interesting report of how this hill affected the race winner click here. And from second place.
On a side note: If I’m mentioning how a little 135 foot climb affected me I have a lot of work to do before tackling Leadville or Western States.
Mile 4 and 5: — 8:08/8:13 The rollers thou the city started at mile four. I was feeling pretty good up to this point. My pace was a bit faster then I wanted although I felt like I was running pretty well after my extended down time. Midway thou this section it felt like we went from hill to hill to hill. Towards the end I felt like a little zip was taken out of me. I would guess the final miles offered up approx 400 of elevation gain right into the finishing chute.
Mile 6: — 7:43 Hitting mile 5 I knew it was time to push the pace. In this final mile I wanted to use each runner in front of me as a mini-goal to chase down and pass. I had hoped to catch and pass as many as I could. That worked for a half mile then slowly I began to feel my legs come out from under me. I chose to not run without my hand held water bottle and ran past every water stop. Although a cool day, around this point in the race I began to feel really dehydrated. Not wanting to give up a fairly well ran race I dug in and held on the best I could.
Finish: — 49:20/6.35 Miles, I placed 3829/57171 The finish came none too soon, as I was really running out of steam. Crossing the finish line I was so very happy to finish this bucket list race, to run a race in my 14th state and to finish under full power with out letting up because of my foot. I did feel some slight tenderness because of the tendinitis and figure I’ll be living with this issue for a little while yet.
Michele and Jeff fast walked the 10k (Jeff’s first) in 1:32:11 and 1:32:18 respectively
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Peachtree road race is a GREAT event. The Atlanta Track Club has hosted this race for 45 years including the very first running of the event in 1970. I highly recommend this race to anyone who may be in the area and anyone who may have the opportunity to visit the Atlanta area over the 4th of July Weekend. The crowd support was very up-lifting and the volunteer staff was welcoming.
My 72 race in 14 States…