Wednesday, July 6, 2011

2011 Peachtree Road Race - Race Report

The night before the race Susan fixed a delicious spaghetti dinner.  We ate early so we could get to bed early and make up for staying up until 2am on Saturday night.

A Splendid Table
Spaghetti and Meatballs
After eating dinner we watched a little television.  I was in bed by 10pm after taking a half tablet of melatonin to help me sleep.  The melatonin doesn't really put me to sleep but it does help me fall back to sleep if I should wake up during the night.  I set the alarm clock for 5am.  My clothes and other race essentials had already been set out for the morning.

We had decided during the evening that, since the family was spread across several starting waves from sub-seeded to "Y", I would travel alone to the race and the family would follow later.  We would all somehow meet up in Piedmont Park after the race.

As I stepped outside the house I realized it was raining cats and dogs.  I put a trash bag in the truck and several trash bags in Susan's car, just in case.  I left the house at 5:20am en route to the College Park MARTA station.  A bagel and a bottle of Gatorade were the extent of my breakfast which I consumed during the drive.  No smoothie - No coffee!  The parking lot was just starting to come alive when I arrive.  I grabbed my stuff, entered the station, and bought a round-trip MARTA Breeze card at the vending machine.  The change from my $10 bill was a handful of heavy coins.  Great!  Something else to haul around all day.  The Breeze cards are paper so, if you sweat at all and don't have a plastic bag to keep it in then, it's likely to get damaged if you're not careful.  My Breeze Card in hand I headed to the train platform and awaited a train on the Doraville line to the Lenox station.  The train arrived and in about 30 minutes I was exiting the Lenox MARTA station toward Peachtree Road.  An hour later a MARTA attendant would help Susan buy an $8 day pass that she didn't need and she would have even more coins to carry around all day.  What a racket!

I had some time to waste before the race so I stretched and took a little jaunt around the Lenox Square parking lot to warm up.  That's when I noticed the baby diapers on the asphalt in the empty lot.  Four diapers skattered in one small parking lot.  What kind of person does that? 

The American flag over the start at Lenox Square
At around 6:55am I decided to head to my corral.  Inside the corral I did some stretching, ate 2 GU packets, then worked my way to the front near the seeded runners.  A minute later I moved back to the rear of the corral next to the "A" wave runners.  My thinking was that, when the race started., I'd hang back and let the sub-seeded runners clear out before I crossed the starting line.  That didn't work well because just as my corral was let loose so was the group behind us.  I was swamped by a sea of runners from both waves.  I would have to thread my way to the front or at least as close to the front as my old bones would carry me.

The course cleared out after a mile or so with the first 3 miles being relatively down hill.  I was running at about a mid-6 minute pace at the 5K point.  Cardiac Hill slowed me down a bit.  The temperature was 76 and the humidity was 79%.  I was drenched in sweat.  Last year's race was cool and dry but not today.  I plodded on passed the bands, water stations, and sea of spectators, mile 4, mile 5, left turn, mile 6, only 1000 feet to go.  I overheard a teenage boy tell his father who was running beside me to sprint to the finish.  I instantly thought, that's fine but he's not passing me.  I had been checking my watch at the mile markers and knew early on that I probably wouldn't break 40 minutes this morning.  I finished the race in 42:40 at a 6:52 pace.  That's 54 seconds off of my 2010 PRR finish time of 43:34.  Since the conditions were less favorable this year I guess that means I'm improving.  I hope so!  I finished the race 793rd overall and was 53rd in my age-group.  Last year I was 1066th overall.

The 2011 Peachtree Road Race t-shirt
After the race I grabbed some warm water and my t-shirt.  Then I took a tour of the Publix food stations before heading over to the Atlanta Track Club hospitality tent.  The ATC area had cold bottled water and breakfast biscuits from Waffle House.

My race bib with the Atlanta Track Club Hospitality Tent sticker attached
An image of the crowd with the stage in the background
Another image of the crowd
A huge dude in a peach suit
There were boxes of delicious peaches for the runners after the race.

Keith and I after the race
I met up with my family at the F-G balloon around 10:30am.  From the balloon we walked to the Midtown MARTA station for our return trip home.  The difference in the north side and south side of Atlanta were clearly evident on the platform.  The entire length of the platform for the north bound trains was occupied with runners standing 12 deep.  The south bound platform was virtually empty.  One can only guess what this means but it suggests that there are far more runners on the north side of Atlanta.

The tired crew taking MARTA back home
It was a long sweaty morning and we were all ready to get back home and take a shower.  Luckily for us there were plenty of seats on the train.

Keith, Me, Susan, Diance and Cody sporting matching t-shirts at lunch
Before Keith and Diane left for Jacksonville we ate lunch at O'Charley's sporting our new t-shirts.  We left the house looking for Mexican food but our usual place was closed for the holiday.

Some of my lessons learned are 1) don't wear a hat or sunglasses because I won't need either of them 2) wear an old t-shirt that I can throw away during the run and before I put my PRR shirt on for the ride home 3) figure out an alternative to MARTA for transportation to the race 4) try to get a better wave starts situation for the family so they can at least start together.

Some of my suggestions to the ATC to improve the race are 1) have cold water and Gatorade or equivalent, at the water stations and at the finish 2) include MARTA pass in the race registration fee 3) re-work the process to allow family members or groups a better way to indicate wave start preferences.

All in all, if you're looking for a big 10K distance race with world class competition then the Peachtree Road Race is for you.  With over 55,000 runners it's as well run an event as you could expect and Kudos to the Atlanta Track Club and their volunteers for pulling it off.  A word of caution, if you plan to run (not walk) this race you'll need to make sure you plan months ahead to get into a corral as close to the start as possible.  That means running a race and submitting the qualifying finish time with your registration.

Maybe next year I'll qualify for the seeded corral.

Thanks for reading.