Today was a qualifier race for the 2006 Peachtree Road Race. This means that if you run under 55 minutes and get your application in early you get in time group 1-B and under 49 minutes you get in time group 1-A. And under 42 minutes you get subseeded and under 40 minutes you are the shit. Really all this means is that instead of just getting a random number that places you anywhere in a pack of 55,000 runners you get placed in front of about 50,000 runners.
Really the Peachtree isn't a great race. It is an Atlanta tradition though. And it can be fun for the camaraderie or just so you can go have beers (notice the plural) after the race in your Peachtree t-shirt. It is on the 4th of July, in the middle of the Hotlanta summer and it is a hilly course, so you got: heat, humidity and hills-- at least three of Dante's rings of Hell I am sure.
Now after doing the Atlanta marathon and half-marathon I personally see the Peachtree's only true challenge is the crowd and the heat. I can't do anything about the heat or humidity but I can try to get somewhere at the front of the pack rather way in the back where I have been in the past. That was what today was about.
This morning when I woke up it was cold and rainy. I am a fair weather runner. I don't mind the cold as that is about dressing right and I can manage that. But I don't like rain and I definitely don't like to be cold and wet. I figured it was only 6 miles and I could do it. I knew I would hate myself if I wussed out of it so I laced up my shoes and drove over to the Nature center.
I had to run a mile in the cold rain, dying to pee, to pick up my number. Then I had to jog another 1/4 mile to the start. So pretty much by the time the race started my shoes were soaking, my toes numb--which isn't really a bad thing, and I was cold. I really wasn't thinking this was going to be my day. I was out late the night before at a cocktail party and didn't get much sleep and did I mention that I don't like to run in the rain?
After the usual pre-race banter and typical discussion of the weather we are off. I tried to get pretty close to the start since the timing was from the gun start but I did stay back as I know I am not a 6 minute miler.
The first mile I went out too fast. At the split they called 7:20 so I pulled back some. At the 2 mile split I was 15 minutes flat. Still faster then I think I should have been. At 3 miles I was 22:40. At 4 I was 30:27 and that was about where I expected to be. At five I was 39 minutes but I may not have heard him right as he was a bit of a mumbler so could have been 38 and some change. I was feeling great and cheered on the winners as they passed me by on the return loop. I just carried my pace through and finished at 47 minutes and 35 seconds. Give or take a few seconds. I was pretty pleased since my goal was a sub 48 10K and I didn't have to kill myself to do it.
And no, I didn't run a negative split but I don't care because overall I am still getting faster and that is what counts.
After I crossed the finish line quite a few people came to congratulate me and say they tried to catch me but couldn't or that they used me as a their pacer. The girl who breezed past me at the end and beat me by a few seconds said "Wow! You were everyone's pacer." I am choosing take it as a compliment that I was the one to follow.
I'll have to keep that in mind during future races when my only desire is to stop and walk for a minute--I'll have to think that I will be letting down the people behind me who are chasing me and think I have some sort pace plan going on. If I stop I'll ruin their race too. Ah! The pressure!
So I got my sub 48 and I got my race shirt and then I ran the mile back to my car in the pouring rain, needing to pee, again.