Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Peachtree Road Race

I guess its about time that I wrote up a race report for the Peachtree Road Race. This race had been the main goal of my first half of the year. The race itself is an Atlanta tradition and is the largest 10K road race in the world with 65000 entrants. I'd geared my spring to build up the mileage to be able to survive the day and had a couple of 10K races under my belt so I felt confident that I'd finish without a problem.

I'd been stressing a bit for the days before the race because I wasn't sure of the best plan to get my family down to the course and meet up with them after. We decided to take the Marta together to the start, then my family continued to the art museum area where they'd watch the race at about mile 5. Then afterwards I'd come back up the course to meet them and take the train home. So with that plan worked out, there was nothing left but to do it.

I was a little frantic getting the family up and out in the morning. The race start was at 7:30, but my wave didn't go off until 8:09. I'd gotten train tickets the day before so we skipped that line and I kissed the family and got off the train near the start right at 7:30. The energy from the train platform on was amazing. It was a short walk from the train to the start area and the organization of this race was amazing. Volunteers at every corner directing people to the proper place. With 20 start waves and 65000 runners, its one heck of a job, but they do it well.

I found my wave and as a group we creeped forward to the start. There was music and announcements playing through the PA and each wave started of with loud cheers. Finally wave J made it to the front, heard the countdown and took off.

It was pretty warm, but not unbearably so, probably around 73 when I started. The sun was low enough in the sky that for most of the route, there was plenty of shade. The first half of the race is mostly downhill. I settled into a comfortable pace that was probably too fast, but the energy was irresistible. There were spectators lining the road everywhere and music playing on almost every block. Bands were set up, DJs from the radio stations, DJs from the bars and lots of cowbells.

I was feeling pretty good, pacing some runners, watching others fly by me, but the pace that I kept was too high and as we started hitting the hills of the second half, I was struggling. I went through waves where I felt great and moved along, and other parts where I could barely push myself to keep going. I walked about half way up the famous "cardiac hill" and then kept moving. There was plenty of water on the course and they had hydrants open spraying the runners. I was pouring water on myself and ran through one of those sprays, but I think that was a mistake. I felt a bit waterlogged near the end of the route.

After cardiac hill you could tell who was hurting and who was strong and i wasn't one of the strong ones. But I kept moving because I had my family to look forward to. I knew about where they would be, though not exactly, so I kept looking ahead for where the art museum would appear. I knew the train station was on the right side of the road, so I was staying to the right, assuming that they wouldn't have crossed the street. But they had. Fortunately, I looked over to that side and caught sight of them. I cut across the entire road and snuck up on them. Time for a quick hug, a picture and some kisses and I was off again.

At this time I was hurting, and then when the road turned left to the park and the shade went away my energy drained. I was in the last mile and I had to walk for a bit. Then I saw the "fake finish" they set up for pictures and I started running, waved to the cameras and continued on to the real finish. I came across the line and stopped my watch, 1:17:30. I was disappointed because I know I can go faster, but this race wasnt about time for me. I grabbed my t-shirt, took a picture and went to meet up with my group from work for our group picture. There were 6 runners from my office out there and we found each other and shared our stories.

I made a few mistakes today, for sure. Not the least of which was after the race, where all I grabbed to eat was a banana. I felt lousy for the rest of the morning and I should have tried to get more protein to help recover. The finish area was a bit overwhelming, everything was so spread out and I didn't want to end up walking 300 yards across a field in the wrong direction. Because of this, I felt pretty lousy for the rest of the morning, to the point where I was dizzy standing on the train home. But once we made it home and had some Cracker Barrel, I felt much better.

The race was a lot of fun and I do look forward to running it again and again.

Some observations:

- On the way to the start I saw a woman with the following written across the back of her shirt "Does this shirt make my butt look fast?"

- Lots of costumes, including two guys in my start wave wearing nothing but their captain america underwear.

- A man wearing a shirt that said "I'm 93 years old, what's your excuse?"

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