I normally do not admit to this, but this race report is way over due. Work and life has been very busy and very stressful and this race report has suffered the consequences. This Peachtree Road Race will always be a special one because I was able to line up and run it with both of my daughters, something that may or may not happen again.
As with every Fourth of July for the past 5 years my day started off much earlier than any sane person would allow. I have been awake and out running earlier than this, but always with a reason that I was training for a marathon or something impressive like that, but the Peachtree Road Race gets me out of bed that early so I can make the trip to Lenox by 6:30 to prepare for a 7:30 race start.
We had prepared as much as possible the night before to allow us to sleep as long as possible, but this was still not enough for my daughter Ashlee who had spent the day at the lake and not made it home till around 11 pm. She did get up with my first call, however I didn’t know till later that she had woke mom to see if she would lend a compassionate ear and take her side in her petition to go back to bed and skip the race. Needless to say, that didn’t work in her favor and shortly after we were on our way to Marta.
The trip to Marta, and then to Lenox was uneventful and we made it in plenty of time to find some friends including some from our Tuesday Night Running Group and just chill out for a while before the race began. Since Payton and I ran together last year she had made plans to run this year with a friend of hers. We kept looking for that friend but she never showed up, or more appropriately, we never found her.
Time was running short so we headed towards the starting line to take our spot in with the others who were fortunate enough to be wearing a bib for the “A” wave starting group. We wandered around the group to see if maybe Payton’s friend was already lined up, but we still couldn’t find her so we settled in near the left front of the group where I found a friend that I have seen every year at the starting line.
The national anthem played and the very impressive flyover of fighter jets was right on time. It still amazes me how they can time the flyover so perfectly considering just seconds before they were probably miles away considering how fast they are going.
Just 10 minutes before starting time CBS Atlanta Reporter, Rebekka Schramm, walked up to my girls and asked if they were twins. After a little bit of small talk she asked if she could interview the three of us. Moments later we had a camera in our faces as she started to ask us questions. The camera felt like it was 2 inches away from our faces as we were being interviewed. The usually tight surroundings spread out a bit to give us room, and I am sure all eyes were on us for those few moments. I remember saying a few things that I hoped they didn’t use. I am sure I said quite a bit that made me look goofy at best, and at the worst like a moron, but that is the fun of being interviewed without any warning. She finished the interview asking us to run along the left side of the road because her camera man wanted to get a shot of us running by together.
Just a few minutes later 7:30 had arrived and we were off and running. We were watching for the camera man and we saw him, but he was facing the wrong way and turned just as we passed. Payton never did find her friend so she slowly left us as she went off to run her own race. Ashlee and I were pacing around an 8:15 pace and she was just soaking in the surroundings. Before too long we came up on one of my girls Cross Country and Track teammates who was running with her mom who is an ATC Elite runner. She was running with her daughter as I was so we ran together for a little bit. We talked about the upcoming season and also about their interaction with Ryan Hall before the race as they were volunteering at the starting line.
Less than a half mile later Payton’s friend found us and joined us. She told us how she sprinted to the starting line from Marta since her dad had held her up a bit since he wasn’t starting till some time later. She got to the starting line just as the “A’s” were leaving and she joined the back of the group as they started the race.
Ashlee and I kept a pretty good pace, but I cautioned her and kept telling her to slow down. She was not ready to run 6 miles as she had not been running as much as she should have been lately. Everything was going good until a bit before mile 3 when Ashlee crashed. She had not been taking water at the first couple water stops against my prompting and was starting to feel it. She asked when she could stretch which I knew was a sign of things to come. She stretched and we were off again for a little while. As we neared “The Hill” she said she couldn’t keep going. She apologized for ruining my race and said I could go on because she was going to walk the rest of the race. I told her I was committed to run the race with her, and that meant that I would not leave her. We were on at the bottom of the Piedmont hill and someone was handing out water bottles so I told her to take one and that we would walk the hill.
We made our way to the top of Piedmont hill and started to run again. Things were going slow, but we were running. A couple more times she said she could not go on, to which I replied that we would walk the water stops and any big hills, but we were not giving up. We kept running by holding to the plan of walking the water stops and before we knew it we were rounding the 10th street corner. We were on the home stretch and the finish was nearly in site. I prepared her for the cameras and told her that the overhead scaffolding was not the finish line as many people mistake it for, but then the first thing she said after we passed the cameras was – where is the finish line?
The last half mile came and went and we crossed the finish line in 55:30 (Ashlee, Me). This was no where near where I usually run the Peachtree, but I was able to help my daughter Ashlee finish her first Peachtree which is worth much more than keeping my time consistent from years past. I was able to run beside her as she experienced the Priest with the Holy Water, the drunks handing out beer and jello shots, and all the other things that make the Peachtree what it is.
We collected our coveted shirts and made our way to find Payton to see how she did. We finally found her and talked a little bit about the race and how she did. Payton took it easy and ran it in 46:16. We wondered around a bit, got some food and drinks and talked to some friends and it was time for us to make the walk back to Marta and head home. As we were leaving the park we saw the CBS Atlanta reporter and her camera man again. Being the nice guy that I am I decided to go over and give them a hard time for missing us as we ran by. Moments later as they said they never get to see the same people after the race, the camera was back in our faces and they continued the interview. We talked a little bit about our race, how we did, and finally about the heat before they wrapping it up.
The walk back to Marta is long and there are seas of people going the same way. As we started our walk an older man started talking to me, and asking about the girls. I wasn’t comfortable with some of the things he was saying about the girls as he seemed a bit too interested in them for my comfort. He was very talkative and the conversation turned to other subjects making it a little more comfortable. We walked past some condos with a big dog sitting in a third flight window with his front paws hanging out the window watching all the runners walk by. I have to wonder how long that dog sat and watched because there was going to be non-stop people for the next few hours walking down his street.
As we walked up to Marta I thought we were saying goodbye to the older man who had walked with us the entire way to Marta. The girls were a bit relieved and they told me they were kinda creeped out by the guy as well. We sat down on the Marta and who do you think walked up moments later and sat down beside us? It was a long trip back to the station we parked at, especially since he didn’t stop talking the entire way. I started to wonder more about this guy when stop after stop passed and he was still sitting there and talking to us. He finally exited the train one stop before our stop and we were once again relieved to finally have some silence.
The race did not go like the other Peachtree Road Races that I have run, but I would not have it any other way. To have my daughters beside me at the starting line makes everything worth it. I am not sure if Ashlee will run another Peachtree, and if she does it will probably be with a friend for social reasons, but this one was mine and still brings a smile to my face.
Following the race I cleaned up and told my wife all about the excitement. We talked for a little bit and then it was time for a nap. As I was sleeping I was abruptly woke up by my wife hitting me and screaming at me. I opened my eyes to see myself on TV saying probably the smartest thing I said during the entire interview. It was really cool to see that I was on TV, but we were all a bit disappointed that neither of the girls were in the clip. I wrote a quick post about it with the video and a link to the article on July 5th and it can be found here.
I emailed the reporter to thank her and she replied and asked if we saw the clip they ran at 5pm on the 4th that was just about me and the girls. I was not even aware of that clip and it is not online. She is sending us a DVD which I and the girls are anxiously awaiting.
Once again I am very sorry for the delay in getting this post live. Work has been very stressful and busy lately causing long hours and very little energy to get posts like this written. Unfortunately this stress and long hours has been taking it’s toll on my running as well as you know if you hang around the 26.2 Quest Fanpage much. I hope to get back to regular posting in the coming days and I hope the running takes the same course.
Until next time…..