This past Saturday. July 4th was the 40th annual Peachtree Road Race. It didn't disappoint me like it did last year when I had to walk it. One of the things about running with a seeded time (not sub-seeded) is that the cheaters don't start jumping in as much till after we passed.
This was my third Peachtree, the first one just a short two years ago. The 2007 Peachtree was my first 10k after starting to run as an adult. I crossed the finish line in 2007 in 1:03:59. Last year I walked the Peachtree because I was tripped and broke my collar bone just a few short weeks earlier. Well, this year I was once again able to run it and I almost set a new PR.... almost! I came across the line in 48:32 (chip time)
The day started bright and early with the alarm clock at 4:30 AM. I consumed some oatmeal and a piece of toast, lots of water and a small gatoraide and was ready to hit the road by 5:00 AM. I still had a few items to finish getting ready in the morning because I neglected to make sure the clothes I wanted to wear were clean until about 10:00 PM. That being the case I had to wait for them to wash and dry before putting my number on my shirt and having everything laid out neatly. I did get the timing chip attached to my shoe the night before which I am glad I did since it was pretty complicated for a feable mind like mine :).
My neighbors and I left at 5:00 AM and as we were leaving the neighborhood saw another neighbor walking his dog. Funny thing is that I saw this neighbor two more times at the race..... of 55,000 people. What are the odds?
We arrived at the Marta Station at 5:30 and it was not nearly as busy as it was in previous years. I think the fact that they announced the times that each time group would be taking off this year meant that a lot of the higher time groups stayed in bed longer. This was nice because we were able to park right near the station and then walk right onto the train. We made it to the starting area by about 6:15 and had plenty of time to just relax and use the port-o-potties before any lines formed.
When standing around in a parking lot I just happened to glance over and saw my buddy Kevin. He and I have lined up together both years I have run the Peachtree. We didn't have any way of meeting up this year since we both didn't have phones with us, but wouldn't you know we both ended up hanging out within just about 10 feet of each other. While we were standing here talking guess who walked up? Yup, this was siting number 1 of my neighbor that was walking his dog this morning. Need I remind you that this race is 55,000 people?
The morning weather was perfect. Low 70's, with relatively low humidity. We actually made a comment that it was border line chilly. Not cold by any stretch, but nowhere near a July 4th in Atlanta.
We still had some time to waste so we watched the wheelchair races take off. These are true athletes. To be able to power those wheelchairs with just their arms for the 6.2 miles including some decent hills absolutely amazes me.
We decided following the wheelchairs that we should take another pit stop. We walked back down to where the 600,000 (slight exaggeration) port-o-potties were and lined up. We quickly realized with the lines, how fast they were moving, and the time, that we were not going to make it and decided to forgo that plan.
We lined up in our time group 1A about mid way back in the pack and waited for the start.
I was very fortunate to again be in time group 1A. You have to have a qualifying time from a qualifying race of less than 50 minutes to get in time group 1A. In March of 2008 I ran the Shamrock and Roll 10k in 48:03. This was my first and only sub-50 10k. It qualified me to be in 1A last year (when I had to walk) but was also still within the timeframe so I was able to use that time to qualify again this year. Since I had been off running for 8 of the last 15 months due to the broken collar bone I had no chance to re-qualify so this was a blessing.
The horn blew at 7:30 right on time. The elites took off and the sub-seeded were right behind them. It took us a little bit to cross the starting line, but I later compared my watch time with the clock time and we only took 30 seconds to cross the starting line after the horn. This made it nice the rest of the way because I didn't need to keep looking at my watch, and I could just add 30 seconds to whatever time they were yelling out at the mile markers.
The first couple miles felt good, but felt slower than they actually were (as is always the way it goes) My buddy Kevin was not too far in front of me, and I think I subconsciously tried to keep up with him even though I know he is faster than me.
My first mile was 7:45 which I was happy with, but then I started to speed up too much. My second mile was 7:19 and the third mile was 7:01 according to my watch. I am not so sure about this third mile. At some point in the race I think my MyTach GPS watch measured one of the miles a little short, and this may have been that mile. That coupled with the fact that my MyTach GPS watch ended up measuring the entire race as 6.3 miles tells me that something went wrong in one of these early miles.
It was sometime in the second couple miles that sighting number 2 of my neighbor occured. He ran past me and I quickly yelled at him for passing me. He turned around and smiled and took off through the crowd. Just a few minutes later I saw Mike Beaudreau fly past me weaving in and out of people trying to make up some ground.
Somewhere during the middle of the race I heard a bump and scrape.... and then a "runner down" and then "are you ok?" I turned around to the left and I saw someone picking themselves up off of the ground and walking to the side. My heart dropped, I felt so sorry for this person. I know too well what that feels like, and I just hope that they didn't break anything like I did when that happened to me.
I was able to continue at a good pace and did cardiac hill without too much problem and my 4th mile clocked in at 7:50. It was after the 4th mile that I started to feel it. I have two reasons that I can think of that I started to feel it at this point. 1. I had run the past 9 days straight without a day off, including the day before the race & 2. I ran the 2nd, and 3rd miles a bit too fast.
During the 5th mile I did the dreaded, I gave in a walked a bit. I had trouble slowing down because everyone around me was running a steady pace and so if I ran, I tended to run with them at their pace. I didn't walk long, but ended up walking about 3 times for a total of about 1 minute. This can be seen in my time for that mile of 8:42, a good minute + slower than all my other miles.
I finally got myself going again for the last mile. Mile 6 clocked in at 7:16 and then the last .2 (.3) clocked in at 2:40........ Here is where the whole splits thing kinda messes up again, because my MyTach watch showed .3 (and a total distance of 6.3) so the last .2 at 2:40 was probably more actually .3 at 2:40. I would guess that the watch marked one of the earlier miles too early and it threw the rest of it off. I could transfer 1/3 of the final .2/.3 (about 53 sec) to mile 3 and this could all kinda make sense.... would it? (OK - sorry I got a bit geeky)
The end result was 48:33 according to my watch, and 48:32 according to the official chip results which can be found at the AJC's results. According to those results I finished 2,725 out of just over 50,000 timing chips that crossed both the start and finish lines. 55,000 registered runners, some probably didn't show up, but some also cheated and didn't start at the starting line.
My actual splits can be found on my Running Ahead Log and are:
Mile 1 - 7:45
Mile 2 - 7:19
Mile 3 - 7:01*
Mile 4 - 7:50
Mile 5 - 8:42*
Mile 6 - 7:16
.2 (.3) - 2:40*
* see above for explainations
***A fun additional bit of information. Each registered runner gets the Peachtree Road Race Magazine a few weeks before the race. Mine sat for a couple weeks and then my neigbors mentioned that I was on the cover. I didn't believe them, but went and looked. Everything I recall from what I wore to where I would have been (because I was walking) points to that actually being me. Here is a link to a scanned image.