This year was the 43rd running of the race that winds down Peachtree Street from Buckhead to Piedmont Park in downtown Atlanta. The first race was won by Jeff Galloway and included 150 runners. This years race included 60,000 runners. It is one of the largest annual road races in the world. Every year, thousands of hopeful runners register for the lottery to try to get a slot in the race. Why? For the shirt, of course. For years, race organizers didn’t print enough shirts so only the fastest runners could retrieve one at the race’s end. The PRR shirts are to be worn proudly around Atlanta.
This was my first time running this race. I put my name in the hat last year but I didn’t get selected. I found out that the only way to guarantee an entry was by joining the Atlanta Track Club (who runs the event). So I joined the club and was able to register for the event back in March.
The race is a point to point run, so logistics really come into play. My wife and kids, as well as one of my wife’s very good friends, came along to watch, so I had them drop me off at a Marta Station (Atlanta’s rail system) so that they could head on over to Piedmont and find a place to park and camp out for the race.
The race atmosphere was everything I could have hoped for. The packed train ride to the start. The giant American flag hanging over the starting line. All of the runners in their costumes and Patriotic outfits. It really was a great buildup to the start of the race.
The race started at 7:30, with my wave (group B) heading out at 7:35. There were about 25 start waves, with the last group starting 1 hour and 35 minutes after the first group. I was concerned that having so many people on the road would make it impossible to spread out and actually run the race, but the performance-based time slots really did a good job of opening up the course.
The course is pretty hilly on the second half, so I new that pacing myself early was critical. I ran the first 3 miles around 7:30 per mile. The hills at the end were not oversold. They were brutal. Cardiac Hill, the hill leading up to Piedmont Hospital, is quite long and steep enough to really get your thighs burning. I managed to get through the finishing miles about 8:30 per mile. My Garmin added about 2/10ths of a mile around mile 4, so I was a little confused about distance. As I turned onto 10th street to race to the finish, I could see a decorated, portable bridge stretching across the road. Assuming this to be the finish, I picked up the pace and kicked hard to the end. When I got closer to the bridge, I saw that it was set up for the race photographers and the actual finish line was still about a quarter of a mile away! I continued to push hard, high-fiving my wife and Brenda as I passed them to the finish line.
I ended up finishing the race in about 49:45. While I had hoped to be about 2 or 3 minutes faster, this was still a PR at this distance by almost 3 minutes, and it puts me in the top 3,500 or so runners. Not bad out of 60,000. I will take it!
While I was collecting my shirt and snacks at the park, my wife was interviewed by one of the local news stations about the race. When we got home, we set the dvr up record the news, just in case. We then had the pleasure of watching my beautiful wife over and over and over on the news, while she received random texts, calls, and FB posts all afternoon saying “I saw you on the news”!
I have two real takeaways from the race:
1. Hills. I am running a full marathon along these same city streets in October. I obviously need to incorporate more hills training into my workouts. My thoughts right now are to run at least half of my long runs on the streets in my neighborhood. It’s only about 1.25 miles around, but it has a couple of long hills and a couple of short steep hills. I love running on the Silver Comet Trail, but since it follows the old rail line, the grades are very easy on the legs. I need something harder, but I don’t know if I can run 10 or 15 laps around my neighborhood. Most of my neighbors already think I’m nuts, but I’m afraid I will bore myself to death.
2. Last night when I went online to check my official time, I discovered that apparently my timing chip in my bib didn’t register that I started (or finished) the race. There is no “official” record that I ran. Honestly, this really bummed me out. I had been looking forward to this race for over a year. Heck, I even joined a track club to make sure that I got in! As of this morning, still nothing. Anyway, I know that I ran it (I have the shirt, right?) and I know that I PR’d and got in under 50 minutes. To paraphrase Bart Yasso’s words from yesterday’s post, the reward is completing the journey, not seeing your name and time on a web page.
I didn’t think that I would need to apply those words so soon.
Do you incorporate hills or strength training in your workouts?
Have you PR’d or just finished a race and didn’t get a timed result?