Wednesday, July 22, 2015

(Belated) AJC Peachtree Road Race Recap

Over July 4th weekend, Carla, and I met up to run the AJC Peachtree Road Race 10k in Atlanta. This race had been on my bucket list for years, and since July 4th finally fell on a Saturday this year, we were able to make a long weekend out of it.

For this summer race, I had humidity acclimation in my favor, and Carla had hill training in hers. Also, most of our best race times are pretty close to each other, and my 10k PR (48:24) is only about 30 seconds faster than hers, so we were interested to see who’d get the “twin win” that day. However, Carla talked a lot of trash in the days leading up to the race, and between the fact that she’s a couple of months into marathon training and that my Houston hill practice had been next to nil, I was fully expecting her to take this round. I hadn’t done any speedwork in months, so my goal was to start conservatively, hang on and keep Carla in my sights for as long as I could.

Carla also took care of finding us a sweet Airbnb apartment in Midtown so that we could take the MARTA train to the race start in Buckhead and walk back from the finish in Piedmont Park. Although we got to our corral with only minutes to spare, I would still highly recommend taking mass transit over dealing with traffic and parking for huge races like this one.

It was raining lightly when we got to the start, and five minutes after the first corral was released, we were off. The first three miles were mostly downhill and the rain was more than welcomed over the Houston-like heat and humidity we were actually expecting to get. I couldn’t stop smiling as I high-fived tons of little kids and dodged the people trying to hand us donuts, beer and ice pops. I worked to stay about 100-200 meters behind Carla, and miles 1 and 2 ticked off in 8:10 and 7:53. As I neared the end of the third mile on a smooth downhill on Peachtree Road, my watch said 7:41 and I felt like I was flying. (Note to self: Find a net downhill race, stat!)

Just before the halfway point, we hit the notorious “Cardiac Hill,” and that split actually ticked off in 7:47, followed by an 8:25. Yep, that hill hurt, but by that point, the worst was over. Cardiac Hill didn’t kill me, the downpour felt awesome, and I somehow got a second wind and finally passed Carla. The next 2 miles were over before I knew it in 8:12 and 8:01, and I crossed the finish line in 50:30, “winning” this round of twin rivalry by 1 minute and 10 seconds.

All done, and totally soaked!
There was a loud thunderclap when I had about 1 kilometer to go, and we later heard that more than half of the runners lined up behind us ended up getting a delayed start. But even with the downpour, the streets were lined with the loudest spectators all the way through, and I can only imagine how much more awesome the Peachtree must be on a nice day. And even though we totally missed seeing her, it was exciting to hear that Shalane Flanagan was the top female and that Team USA took second place in the inaugural Peachtree Cup.

“Twin win” and good fun aside, this race was a confidence booster more than anything, especially after mostly running slow and easy in the weeks leading up to it. Sometimes I feel like I never truly become acclimated to the heat and humidity, but sucking it up and training through the Houston's summer will only make you stronger. Getting a solid race out of it only makes me more anxious to kick off Houston Marathon training in the next few weeks.

I loved the Peachtree Road Race and would absolutely run it again. I’m already considering it for next year since it’ll fall on another long weekend. But for now, I’ve been taking an extended break from racing since the Peachtree. I’ll be back it for Run One (Mile!) Houston on Aug. 30.