My entire weekend in Atlanta was absolutely amazing, and you can read about it in Mizuno Takes Atlanta: My Weekend Experience, but the number one reason I was there was for the AJC Peachtree Road Race (10K) with the awesome ambassador team from Mizuno Running.
We all woke up the morning of the race and met in the lobby of the hotel to head to the race start line together. I made sure to bring my flat run bird along with me (Mizuno’s logo) for lots of photo ops, like this one with so many beautiful Mizunos.
Of course, with a group of bloggers we stopped to take multiple pictures along the way. It was raining a bit at that time, but it did not bother us because it cooled things way off. I was racing that morning in my new rocking Mizuno hat, new running clothes from the night before, and my speedy Wave Sayonara 2.
With a race made up of 60,000 people I must admit I was worried the start line would be a cluster; however, I was so pleasantly surprised. There were tons of hotels near the start and a MARTA station right near by so everyone was able to get into the location pretty easily. From there I parted with the other girls who were in corrals A& B and headed back to my own spot in letter E. The first two corrals were fenced off and heavily guarded so you couldn’t get in without the right number on your bib; however, after that you could pretty much jump in any corral. I stuck to my E corral and wondered if others would try to sneak up. I was so amazed by the honesty of the people in Atlanta, I think I only saw 2 or 3 people who had snuck up into the corral.
While I waited in the corral I snuck some prerace pictures and then put my phone back into my super high tech Ziploc bag to protect it from the rain. The rain had picked up a bit from a light sprinkle to a steadier fall, but it still wasn’t horrible, and knowing what the heat and humidity can be like I happily took the nice cool rain that made it barely 70 degrees that morning. That beats 90+ with blaring sun and horrid humidity any day in my book.
As the corrals moved up one by one every 5 minutes I took in the atmosphere and thought about my AFJ Peachtree Road Race goals – have fun and run sub 60. Soon enough we were off! I had to weave in and out of the crowd a lot the first few minutes, but after that I was good to go. It seemed everyone in corral E was running about the same pace as me so occasionally some one would weave around to pass me and occasionally I would have to weave a bit to pass them, but it was pretty much smooth sailing the entire race. I must admit I was amazed by how well the grouping and corralling was done. My local 10K, the Cooper River Bridge Run, has 40,000 people (20,000 less than Peachtree) and it is a mess – so jammed up and packed you usually can’t run for miles. I was beyond impressed with the way this race started off. So organized!
The first mile was a bit tough. See, I come from Charleston which is pancake flat. It is a town where we have to drive to bridges to run hills and heading up a speed bump is considered an incline. Atlanta is not like that at all! The whole place is hills! Not always big hills, but rolling hills the whole race – down just a little, up just a little, down a little, up a little, down a LOT, up a LOT, down a little, up a little…
Mile one felt super tough because I was not use to those hills, but I was able to still hold on to the pace I wanted for a sub 60 finish. I think after weeks and weeks of running in ridiculous heat the cool rain was really helping my pacing.
By mile 2 I started to feel my legs kicking in (it always takes me a while to get going) and I was shocked with how fast I sailed through the mile – a sub 9 minute pace in a 10K what? The thing is that while it felt like I was pushing myself, it felt comfortably hard, like a pace I could hold the whole race so I thought let’s try mile 3 and see what happens.
Boom! Mile 3 also came in well under a 9 minute mile pace and I was still feeling fabulous. Suddenly I started to wonder – Could I PR on this crazy hilly course? Was I that much stronger and faster than I used to be? My 10K PR was a 55:something at the Cooper River Bridge Run a few years ago and I realized that if I could hold this pace I would come in right under 55.
Mile 4 was the killer. It starts at the bottom of Cardiac hill and you push yourself through to the top. I was so thrilled about my possible PR that I took that hill like a beast and stayed right where I needed to be time wise for my big PR push to the finish.
There was one problem though, Cardiac hill and the hills before it had shredded my legs they were dead. On a flat course I would have nailed that PR on that day, but this was not to be. I pushed with everything I had those last 2 miles, but my legs were done for. Each mile was a minute slower than it needed to be. I realized I wouldn’t hit my PR, but took solace in the fact that I was able to run as well as I did on such a hilly course. I beat my sub 60 goal and finished in 57:41.
I snagged my finisher’s shirt along with water and food at the finish line and, since the rain had picked up a lot by that point and I was soaked, headed for the MARTA station. Getting on the MARTA was no problem. I was envisioning hour long lines like the Metro at the Marine Corp Marathon, but I hopped right on with no problem and was on the way back to the hotel.
Overall, I LOVE this race.
– It was easy to get to and from via MARTA.
– The corrals were super organized.
– There was very little weaving needed at the beginning.
– Crowds were great even in the rain!
I really hope to get to do this race again, I must admit I would choose it over the Cooper River 10K anytime as the travel, logistics, and organization at the AJC Peachtree Road Race are just so much better. Sorry Cooper River.
Truthfully, I’d even take the rain again next year. I really preferred rain and 70 to 90+ and humid. My post race hair may not have felt the same way about the rain, but that is just the type of sexy I am. (Someone please remind me to braid that junk next year – it took me 30 min to get those knots out!)
Have you ever run the AJC Peachtree Road Race? Would you like to?
Would you rather:
Run in 70 degree, but it is pouring rain – or – It is beautifully sunny, but 90 and humid.