I am a long distance, endurance kind of girl, but I have to admit that I like the opportunity to run fast. Running fast is kind of new to me, and I am still learning my limits, especially as a post-partum runner. For this Fourth of July, my husband and I signed up for our second AJC Peachtree Road Race 10k, which is held every Fourth of July on a hot, hilly, crowded course through Atlanta. It’s a fun race, but not one to take too seriously. With that said, this is a pseudo race report because this was a race for fun not a goal race by any stretch. I’m training for a 100 mile race in September, so my training has left my legs relatively tired, and I wasn’t sure what level of effort I wanted to put into this hot race.
My husband, baby, and I spent the night at my parents’ house 45 minutes north of Atlanta because what babysitter wants to show up for a job at 5:30 am on a holiday? 🙂 Cadence is still getting up in the night, and I like to be there to nurse her instead of pumping/giving a bottle. It’s our new normal in this phase of life, and it also means that I live in a constant state of sleep deprivation. Ha! We are so thankful to have parents who love to babysit and support our activities.
I did not sleep well on Sunday night, finally getting up at 4:30 am. Even that early, my phone said that the temperature was 75 degrees (it turns out that this year was the hottest year since 2005). It was going to be a hot, muggy day! We left the house by 5:45 am and headed to MARTA to take the train to the start of the race. MARTA is an extremely inefficient transportation system, and that was once again confirmed as thousands of other suburban commuters converged on the same rails.
We were really cutting it close on time when we got off the train, so Jon and I ran to the porta-potties and then ran to the start in order to make it in time. I had a minute to spare before the gun went off, and I was already dripping with sweat. At the time of the start, I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to race or just run for fun.
My legs had been feeling like lead on all of my training runs leading up to this race, so my expectations were pretty low. At the start of the race, my legs felt fine, but there were so many people crowded at the start that no one could run too fast. I broke semi-free from the crowds by the second mile, and my legs felt fine. I was really comfortable with my pace, and realized that I could potentially PR if I continued to feel this good, despite the heat and crowds. I knew that my PR 10k was a 6:38 pace and I was easily clocking the 6:20s.
Then mile 3 happened and I started feeling like even the downhills were an effort. At that point, I decided to just enjoy the race and not trash my legs. I settled into an easier pace and just focused on feeling strong for the hills. When I reached mile 5.5, I looked at my overall average pace and it was 6:39. Now I had a decision: either push a little harder and go for a PR after all, or just keep cruising. I didn’t have any excuses not to try to PR, so I sped up just past uncomfortable and tried to sustain that for the rest of the race.
When I finished, my watch said that my overall pace was 6:34 in 6.33 miles, but my time was 41:40. I had missed my 10k PR by 20 seconds, but my pace was faster than my PR race time (because of the extra 0.13 miles that I ran).
For races this crowded, it’s hard to run the tangents, and sometimes, the course just gives you a little extra. (This also happened in Boston, which is a super crowded course.) I had a great time running, and I got the best of both worlds by racing part of the course and relaxing for part of the course.
My husband finished shortly after me (he was in a different wave), and he also ran a really fast race. My favorite memory of the race is actually what happened after the race. I loved walking around Piedmont Park with my handsome, sweaty husband talking about our impressions of the race. Jon is just recently starting to run more races, and it makes me so happy to share this with him!
It turns out that I finished 30th female out of 28,677 and 521 overall out of 56,914. All finishers in the top 1000 get a free mug at the local running store, so that is a fun treat that I will pick up later this week. In the meantime, I can’t help but wonder how fast I can run on a different course in cooler weather. 🙂
My biggest takeaway from the race is to always maintain a positive attitude. There will be surprises in any race, and heat, hills, and crowds are all part of the experience. At the end of the day, running is a gift, and it is a way to praise our Creator with our legs. We spent the rest of the day at my parents’ house at the lake, and then finished up the evening at our neighborhood pool party. And that’s a wrap on the Fourth of July 2016!
Did anyone else run a summer race recently?
Does the heat discourage you from trying to give it your best?