So, the much anticipated details of the Peachtree.... I got up at 4:30, met my Dad, off to Marta by 5:20. We caught the train at the Avondale station. There was a pretty light crowd there so we were able to catch a seat on the train. Not to be once we transferred northbound to Lenox. The train was paaaaaaaacked. There was no way to fit another person on it. By the time we got to Lenox, all of the oxygen was depleted from the train and several people were already sweating from the heat.
We wedged ourselves out of the train at Lenox and made the trek to our corral. After a last minute stop at the "Happy Cans", Dad met his friend Steve and they took off walking shortly after 7:00. I head to my corral and take a seat on the asphalt. I was in time group 1A which was definitely a different class of runner. These people clearly took running very seriously or at least were just naturally fast and fit to boot. I felt like a fish out of water. I down a GU gel (Side note, I was really sick immediately following the ING half and have been experimenting with what food works and what doesn't pre-race. I think the main thing that has helped is to avoid any type of diet soda 24 hours prior to the race). GU gel down, wait for the start.
The benefit to time group 1 is that you are able to cross the line within a minute or two of the start (as opposed to time group 9 which I hear was over an hour after the race started - there are that many people). I tried to pick a person that I felt I could use to pace myself. That worked for about the first mile and then I just kind of went on my own pace. I think I saw the Kashi guy that is running in the commercials - could be wrong - he had a Kashi shirt on, sort of looked like him and he was high fiving kids that were on the sidewalk as we passed. He stopped/slowed down significantly at mile 3 so maybe it wasn't Mr. Marathon Kashi man after all. Either that, or all the celebrity obligations might have slowed him down.
Overall, the run felt pretty good - or as good as it can feel. Do you ever get past that feeling that you might not be able to make it to the end? It doesn't seem tot matter what distance I am running, I always have to mentally psych myself up to keep going. My only other experience was my last Peachtree in 1998 so compared to that one, it felt like I was done in no time. I will say the last hill was BRUTAL. On first approach it didn't appear to be all that long and then I got a better look at the top and it just kept going. So cruel as it was right at the end. Towards the end people kept yelling, you are almost there, almost there. I guess their idea of "almost" anmd mine are two different things... That last mile seemed really long. Time: 55:53. I really wanted to break 55 minutes. Oh well. I definitely did better than my last Peachtree effort in 1998. :)
After the finish, you go through the various areas (turn in the timing chip, pick up the shirt, grab a water). I was supposed to meet my Dad back at the Mich Ultra Party. Somehow I walked right past it and on to the civic center. On the bright side, I was able to grab a couple of free Larabars. I HEART larabars, especially the Key Lime and Cherry Pie flavors!
The funny thing about not being able to find the Mich Ultra party was that my Dad was very specific in telling me how to get there before the race. After the rave, I had not a clue where it was. I asked a couple of volunteers at the civic center, no idea. I finally happened upon one with the official race map and she told me how to get there. Headed back through the crowd like a salmon swimming upstream and eventually bumped into it after several wrong turns. I still managed to make it back to the tent before Dad and Steve so I just hung out and watched the people go by.
They finally showed up and we went in to take advantage of the 3 beers and all you could eat for $10. Pretty good deal. If you were hungry... We hung out there for about an hour, caught a ride back with Steve to the car at Avondale and were back home by 11:30.
The Peachtree is not about setting any kind of records, it is more about being part of the event. I definitely enjoyed the sights and am glad I did it. Maybe I can break 55 minutes next year ;)