Happy Birthday America. The good old Red, White, and Blue. There was no better way to celebrate than with my family & 60,000 strangers. I’ve been registered for this race now for 6 months or so and it was finally hitting me that it would soon be over with. I had these same feelings the first time I ran a half marathon and the time I ran a half while 6 months pregnant. I get so amped up about races that I forget how quickly they are done and over with. This is why I try to remind myself during the race to look around, really acknowledge the people around me, and to make memories. Otherwise, I’ll look at my watch, the person in front of me’s head, and only think about how much running hurts. That never leads to a fun race recap either. So when I went to bed the night before the race, I kept telling myself how important it was that I get up early, go explore the starting line, check out other racers, get a million pictures, and during the race to really be present.
I did my normal routine before bed of laying out every single thing I would need so that nothing would be forgotten. I drank tons of water and left a bottle by the bed so I could drink it throughout the night as I got up with Valerie. For dinner that night we went to a place down the road for Taco’s and a beer! One beer the night before a race is not going to hamper my results, promise. I tried to tuck into bed as early as the girls would let me so I could get as much sleep as possible. Luckily, Valerie only woke a few times that night, leaving mommy to get some decent rest. I truly can’t wait to see how well I can run when she starts sleeping through the night. I only have like a year to wait, haha. When I dream, I dream of real sleep.
That morning I got up early and headed out. Drank some nuun, had a granola bar, stretched, foam rolled, and made my way to the starting line. I bought a ticket for the train the day before so I wouldn’t even have to stress about it. I had visions of the train being jam packed with people and it being crazy. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My station had maybe 10 other Peachtree Runners waiting and that was it. I had a smooth ride to the starting line. The entire walk to the start line there were people from MarathonFoto taking pictures. I let them take as many of me as they wanted. You all know how much I love and cherish race photo’s so I thought the more I had taken, the more likely hood of me getting some really good shots and memories. I even played around with the photographers doing silly things like jumping up in the air. Not all race photo’s have to be super posed! I also paused and took pictures of the sunrise and the skyline of Atlanta. It was a gorgeous morning, I had wished the race started at 6:30 am before the sun came up because the weather was perfect.
Once I managed to find my wave, I ventured around. I checked out the starting line and grabbed some pictures. I walked all the way down to wave F, grabbed some water & used the potty again. Then I took a nice warmup loop of about 1.3 miles. The only problem at the end was that there were a lot of people standing around so I had to take my warmup slower than I normally would have liked to. I knew the adrenaline was going to help with the race so I wasn’t worried about not being warmed up enough. I took even more pictures and just soaked in the atmosphere. There was music playing loud, people were pouring in from every angle to find their starting wave. It was all so very exciting and the volunteers were doing a great job of keeping people organized and in their correct corral. I did see a few people trying to sneak into corral B with other friends and they were immediately turned away at the gate. Good job volunteers!
I watched as the wheel chair groups took off. I looked at my watch and realized I had about 15 minutes before my wave would start so I headed to use the bathroom one last time, MISTAKE. I should have headed to the bathroom much earlier than that. All the lines for the port a potty were super long but I knew I needed to use it before I headed out. You don’t have to start with your assigned wave as long as you start farther back. So I knew that there wasn’t any problem with me not being with group B so I held off and stood in line as I watched my wave head out. I was scheduled to start at 7:35 with group B but I texted Tony to expect me about 10 minutes behind the original plan. I went to the bathroom and managed to join in wave D which started at 7:45 so I wasn’t far behind when I should have started. I didn’t think there would be any problems with this until I actually started the race.
Mile 1: 7:32 My thoughts went from “wooo!!! I crossed the start line, this is so cool!” to “shit, get out of the wayyyyyyyyy.” The problem I faced at the start was one I didn’t have at the Cooper River Bridge Run. Remember that the waves are based on your time, how fast you run. They try to group people in same time frames so that way there aren’t clusters and faster people aren’t running you over. Imagine if Kara Goucher was put behind me. She’d run over me faster than I could manage a few strides. So now I was behind large groups of runners that weren’t at the same pace as me. Having to weave in and out of people and attempt not to step on anyones heels but maneuver around them so I could get into my own groove was really hard. I wasn’t able to break away and feel free until around 3/4 of a mile into the race. Sidenote: Next year I’ll be in wave A unless they change the qualifications for the waves and I’ll know better than to use the bathroom with only 15 minutes to spare. The rest of mile 1 was good and full of energy. I soaked in all there was going on around me, the costumes and outfits, the music, and all the smiling faces. I knew those smiling faces would diminish by mile 4.
Mile 2: 7:08 Now I was in my groove. I wasn’t feel overly hot yet but I knew that it would be coming. I tried to power through some portions of this mile. I did my homework and knew that after mile 3 I was going to be faced with hills. I could either reduce my pace now and hope to save energy for the hills or say F*** it and give it all I had and use mental strength for the hills. I tried to do the later and pushed myself. It was 90+ degrees outside and there was no shade for this race. I ran by a bunch of bars that were handing out beers and I was super envious of the runners who grabbed one and chugged it while maintaining a 7 minute mile pace in that heat. My hat goes off to you all, I just kept dreaming of the beer that I would have at the end of the race.
Mile 3: 6:57 I was laying it all out on the course at this point. I fed off of all the energy from those who were on the sidelines cheering us on. I kept looking for signs to read them and see what the most clever one was that I could find. I’d power to the next sign I saw to keep my feet running light and fast. I saw a lady with a bunch of dogs and a sign that read “run like you have 4 feet.” I also ran by so many other cool things like a man on stilts. There were also sprinklers up all over the street. I ran through a bunch of sprinklers that got me completely soaked but it felt sooooo good. We ran by a huge church that had a sprinkler set up and a man outside blessing the runners. All of these things were helping me power through before we were about to hit Cardiac Hill. I kept reminding myself that I was halfway done with the race already and it would be over before I knew it. I wanted to enjoy it as much as possible.
Mile 4: 8:17 Hello hill. Hello calf muscles. Hello heat. Hello humidity. You’re all a bunch of bitches! Yeah I took it there but if you were at mile 4 of this race, you’d be saying a lot worse curse words than I’m writing out here. It was at this point that I just kept reminding myself how little I had left to go. I wanted to give up and slow down, a lot. I just kept refocusing on the fact that the hills would eventually stop and I’d be disappointed if I didn’t give it everything that I had. Thank god I ran by some really cool people who had super soaker water guns. I waved at a girl and spread my arms wide and let her drench me. I had already started to dry up from the last sprinkler I ran through and all these little water stops were making this race bearable. Y’all it was HOT.
Mile 5: 8:17 I was keeping the pace steady with all of these rolling hills. Every time that the thoughts of just throwing in the towel hit me, I would see a small downhill that I would use to bring myself back up mentally. I knew I had less than 20 minutes to go and I knew that Tony & the girls were stationed at the 5.5 mile mark so I just let that keep pushing me. The sooner I got to the girls, the sooner I’d get another wave of energy, the sooner I’d be done with the race, and the sooner the cold beer would be in my belly. I wasn’t allowing myself to be disappointed with these miles. The hills were killer, so much worse than the bridge run. The bridge run is a steep incline for 3/4 of a mile. This race is constant rolling his from mile 3 on and some of them never end. Not to mention the heat + Humidity had us at a level red so I was just happy to be surviving.
Mile 6: 8:05 I was smart enough to book a hotel room that was right on the course. This made it super easy for tony to bring the brings down to the road to watch me. I didn’t have to worry about where he would be and if I’d get to see them as I ran by. I knew exactly where my girls were and I was getting so pumped to run by them. As I approached my hotel I got on the outside of the road so that way I could blow the girls kisses. Sure enough there they were, dressed in their adorable red, white, and blue. I yelled to Fiona and blew her a kiss and to the finish line I headed. Of course seeing the girls gave me the boost I was hoping for and I was able to speed up a little bit. The final stretch of this race is when you make your one and only turn onto 10th street to head to the finish. I saw the photographers up above our heads and did some cute poses for them. Michelle pose for a camera? No way! ha.
.2 6:53 I loved all the signs and people coming to the finish line. I could see it from far away and just started yelling with all of the other runners to push it out! The comraderie at the end of the race was fantastic. I had turned my music down at this point because I just wanted to hear, feel, see everything going on around me. I crossed the finish line with a time of 48:31.
Age group: 69
I’m extremely proud of myself for that finish time. Between the blistering heat and those hills, I am just happy to have finished. I knew this wasn’t going to be a PR race and I know now it NEVER will be. I’ll always do better at the Cooper River Bridge Run than I will at the Peachtree Road Race. It’s like comparing apples to pasta salad, two completely different races that deserve to each be evaluated in their own way. My goal next year is to finish under 48 minutes for the Peachtree road race while my goal for the Bridge Run is to finish in under 45 minutes. It’s amazing the difference weather and a course can make on your goals.
Anyways, that’s my recap of what I can remember. The race flies by and I always say to myself during the race “remember that for the recap.” and then I always tend to forget those things. I need to invest in wearing a go pro on my head to remember these things. I hope you enjoyed hearing about this fun race and the pictures that I got.
By the way, my favorite sign was a man holding “Free motivational ass slaps”