My husband and I signed up for the Triple Peach race series through the Atlanta Track Club in the beginning of the year, and the second of the three ATC races was held this past Sunday. The series includes the Fourth of July AJC Peachtree Road Race 10k, the PNC Atlanta 10 Miler, and the Thanksgiving Half Marathon. After just running the Yeti 100 at the end of September, I have been taking a mini break from running in October, focusing on cross training and strength work. But I was curious to see what kind of speed my legs had in them after pushing my limits on a 100 mile race three weeks ago.
Plus, I am determining my next race goals, so I wanted to see what a sustainable fast pace would feel like. I did not go into the 10 miler with a goal to “race”, but rather to get a feel for my legs to see if November would be practical to jump right back into training. On Saturday the day before the race, I “hiked” 5 hilly miles with the dog and stroller and then did 2.5 hours of strength work. The PNC Atlanta 10 Miler was not a goal race, so I was not concerned about tired legs from the strength work.
We woke up the morning of the race, got dressed, and dropped the baby off with a babysitter. I pumped in the car, and then we sat in race day traffic trying to get into the parking deck at Atlantic Station, where the race start and finish were located. Once parked, Jon and I ran to the start area with the hopes of finding porta potties on the way. I wanted to try to go before the race started, but unfortunately, the lines were really long, and the porta potties were very poorly located right in the race line-up traffic. Jon waited with me in line, and then we hurried to line up for the race as it was starting.
This race was a “self-seed” but we were so late that we ended up running with Wave C, not my first choice. As soon as we lined up for the start of our wave, I realized that I had forgotten my music in the car. I really love to run with music, especially if I am going to put forth effort on the run. Given that we were starting with the C wave, I knew that this wasn’t going to be an A race anyway, so I shook it off and waited for the gun.
The weather was perfect for a fall run in the low 40s with sunshine. The race started for our wave about 5 minutes after the first wave was released. I raced ahead out of the crowd and pretty quickly reached the previous wave participants who had already reduced their paces to a jog or walk. This course surprised me in how hilly it was, and I had a little more challenge weaving around other slower runners on the uphills in the beginning of the race. Within a few miles, I was relatively unhindered by my wave start and did not have to weave quite as much as we all spread out.
For an early, cooler Sunday morning, crowd support was fantastic! There were several posts with great cheerleaders dressed in different themes along the course. Water and fuel were provided, but I did not pay attention to the frequency, as I did not need to hydrate or fuel for such a short distance in the cooler temps.
I felt strong for the entire race. It was hilly, but I enjoyed the hills. I stopped looking at my paces on my watch because the ups and downs of the hills made paces so hard to track for an overall average, and I was really just focused on seeing how my legs felt, not how fast I could run. I was putting forth effort, but I never felt like I was exerting for a race pace.
After just running 100 miles, 10 miles really does not seem like that far, even if it is with a greater intensity. When we reached mile 9, I picked up the pace a little and finished strong. I had no idea where my place among the females would be, as I started in Wave C. After the race, I found out the results that I finished 8th overall female and 2nd in my age group. My overall pace was 6:44 min/mile, which makes me feel more confident about my future race goals for the marathon.
Overall, both my husband and I had a great time running the Atlanta 10 Miler. 10 miles is a middle distance right between trying to run really fast but still maintain some steam for endurance. The ATC did a great job putting on the race, from packet pick-up to race execution. My only complaint was that the porta potties were placed in a very bad location so that the lines were cramped near the start. It was our fault for arriving without time to spare. Life is very different with a baby but we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Have you run your first fall race of the season yet? Cooler temperatures are glorious!