Friday, July 11, 2014

Peachtree Road Race Recap

Peachtree Road Race, Atlanta, GA
Field: ~60,000 runners, walkers, fitness enthusiasts, people in costume, and running reporters
Spectators: Tons. The course is lined with fans the entire way.
Start/Finish: Starts at Lenox Mall and ends at Piedmont Park. The start has over 25+ corrals.
Course: A closed point to point road course.
Schwag: The coveted cotton t-shirt and fresh peaches.
Other: Entry is through a lottery system, with guaranteed entry for all Atlanta Track Club members. This year the race served as the US 10k National championship (Spoiler alert: I didn't place). To raise money for the track club's Kilometer Kids program, Meb started 10 minutes after the last start wave and earned money for each person he passed (goal of 22,500 people). They even had the hashtag #MebPassedMe to track his movement around the course.
Hmm, might need more flair next year.
This year was my 5th Peachtree Road Race and it is by far one of my favorite races of the year. The whole city basically shuts down to run, walk, or cheer for those completing the race. Peachtree is also the one race every year that the Jayhawk and I run together. This year I offered to help pace him using the Galloway method.  He had a nasty hamstring pull last year and is finally back to running on a regular basis and having purposeful workouts (long run, tempo, etc).  He has been using an interval style method and consistent crosstraining to rebuild his fitness and strength.
This was the crowd walking from the MARTA station to the startline. It's a big race.
The Jayhawk didn't want to run with the garmin. Mentally it was better for him if I just told him where we were intervalwise ("Walk", "Run", "Whoops, start running").  He obviously could see the mile markers on the course (there were no clocks) and knows the course well enough to know what to expect. I did my best to maintain a 2min run: 30 second walk interval, and once we were in the big hills, we did alternate in a few 1 min walk breaks.
It's a shoe. In the middle of the race course.
Having only once flirted with the Galloway method, I spent the first mile just trying to get use to the system and get the math right. I love math, but I think I get slightly dumber when all my blood is diverted to my muscles during a run, that or all the fans and runners in spirited dress were distracting me. Sure, I could have been logical and set intervals on my garmin, but that wouldn't allow for changing up the intervals late in the race if he was feeling strong (which was my whole goal). I did a solid job on my intervaling (maybe one or two timing mishaps, but I didn't tell him), told ample stories, made some movie references, had a few horrible attempts at a during race selfie, reminded him when Meb was on the course, and pontificated about life. I may have a future as a pacer. I'm available if anyone need my pacing services.
I don't think I can take one standing still let alone running. Won't do that again.
Though Peachtree Road Race is the largest 10k in the world, it's not an easy course. You start with a 2+ mile downhill, and then climb for the next 2+ miles before enjoying a slight downhill into the finish.  This is all while enjoying the heat and humidity that is Atlanta in July. With corrals starting as late as 9:05am, it can be down right brutal.  This year we were incredibly lucky with race time temps barely breaking into the 70s and a light breeze.  Hopefully we don't pay for it next year.

Our slowest mile was the first. We were consistent through the next three, and the negative split the last two (pacer win!). We went through the first 2 miles slowly, just trying to weave our way out of the pack and not get overzealous on the downhill. As we started to climb uphill at mile 3, I noticed we were passing a few more people and as we crested the top of cardiac hill, the Jayhawk mentioned that it wasn't as bad as he remember from previous years. Climbing through the last set of hills, his spirits were still up and pace was still consistent.
The finish line party. Not kidding.
When we rounded the corner onto 10th street (there is exactly 1 turn in the entire race), I let him know it was time to push. With just over half a mile to go, there was no way I was letting him walk again.  I knew he was about to trim minutes of his time from last year (something he didn't think was possible pre-race) and I was out to get him every last second.  I may have got a little over enthusiastic as I noticed we were running sub8:40 pace, but we took a little pressure off the gas peddle and cruised happily into the finish. Over 3 minutes ahead of last year.
Pre-race smiles. Some of us wear more than the minimum flair.
We hung around the finish line long enough to hear Meb come in and joke about how he needed experience playing football to get through the crowds on the course (I guess he isn't use to back of the pack life), had a peach or two and then walked back to the car parked 2 miles away at the MARTA station (it was our cool down). Overall, another fabulous year at Peachtree.
2014 Peachtree shirt
Though the Jayhawk isn't where he wants to be fitness wise, he ran the perfect race for his current fitness level.  He nailed his pre-race plan and finished strong with a smile on his face (and with no swearing in the hills). It was a huge confidence builder and the training motivation that he needed! He was even so pumped by his finish that later that day he registered for his first half marathon this fall at Chickamauga. I'm sure I will have a little input in that training program and keep you posted on his progress!
Even my post race refueling beverage had flair.
In the many times I've 'raced' against Meb, this is the first time I got to the finish line before him.  Sure he started over an hour after me, but that is just a minor detail. If you want to read more about how Meb pulled off his awesome run, this is a great article about it. The amount of money he raise for the Kilometer Kids program is pretty staggering!  Thank you Meb!

Have you ever run a super big race? What is your favorite 4th of July tradition?

16 comments:

  1. Love the race idea with Meb. Great race recap. Excellent job as a pacer, are you going to be in AZ any time soon lol. Coming off an injury, the biggest win is that the Jayhawk finished injury free and with a smile on his face, that is huge. Cudoa to him for signing up for his next race, I'm sure he had TONS of confidence. We have been to some big races, people everywhere so we don't use those races as PR attempts.

    My favorite 4th tradition is going to our grocery store parking lot, you can see fireworks that are about half mile away. We take snacks, play games, so much fun.

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    1. Thanks Schlub! I would be happy to pace you! I've never been to AZ. I don't use big races for PR attempts either. Just run and enjoy the craziness!

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  2. My dad finally "gets it" that walking in the race is okay and actually can provide you with a lot more juice to get to the finish line strong! Nice recap.

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    1. Thanks Miranda! And thank you for all your help this weekend!

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  3. Your race outfit is amazing, and so is what Meb did. Congrats to Jayhawk and that is awesome he signed up for his first half! My favorite 4th tradition would have to be just hanging with the family and having a bonfire at the end of the night.

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    1. Thanks Courtney. I try to add a little flair every year. Oooh, does your bonfire involve smores? Is there any other way? :)

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  4. If you paced me, you couldn't wear those red glasses - laughing at you would take too much energy! Congrats to you both!

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    1. Haha, they would distract you for miles Tina! Thanks!

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  5. Wow. Cooper River has about 40,000 and it is crazy. I cannot imagine 60,000. So cool that Meb was there trying to pass people.

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    1. I didn't realize Cooper River was so huge! Honestly, I don't think I would notice the difference between 40k and 60k. It's a ton of people either way.

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  6. Yaaa for a great race! Glad to hear the Jayhawk did so well. I never thought I would be a fan of the Galloway method, but I am. The small break really conserves energy, what a great way to get to your goal. I love your flair! The pic of you too is so darn cute :) Want to come to Richmond in November and pace me for my half?! I have run the Monument Ave. 10K the past few years, that is the biggest race in Richmond each year :)

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    1. The Galloway method is working really well for him. I quasi-Galloway during trail races (i.e. walk the unrunnable stuff). I would love to pace you! I might be booked that weekend. The Jayhawk has first dibs for his half! :)

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  7. Wow, that looks awesomely fun!

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  8. was it ever mentioned how much $$ Meb raised? I can't believe you were able to run in all that flair considering the heat.
    I bet Jayhawk was very appreciative of the 3 minute PR- way to bring him in quick :)

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    1. His goal was 75k and I think they are still taking donations.

      There are years I get a little sick of my flair. I'll be honest.

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