Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Peachtree Recap: Found Time

As a stay-at-home-mom of 2 small children I am often searching for found time. Found time is time that you didn't know about-- or, even better, time that you have found that no one else knows about. You get things done in found time. Often, I pray that someone will invent a day that falls between Wednesday and Thursday and no one but me knows about this day. It would be a whole big day of found time. On this day of found time I would play catch up on all the stuff I never have the time to do and I would get to go for super long runs unburdened of responsibility.

Found time, you see, is usually a good thing. However, found time is a bad thing when it comes to races. Sadly, the powers that be-- a.k.a the Championchip -- found some time in my Peachtree 10K and ruined a documented 10K personal best for me. I am beyond pissed.

Tuesday I ran the famed and hugely popular Peachtree Road Race. Earlier this year I qualified for time group 1A with my previous recorded personal best 10K time of 47 minutes and 35 seconds. Since then I have been working hard to get faster and even though it has been hot as hell lately I have improved. I am faster. I know it. Garmin knows it. But I wanted proof. In my training runs I am rarely over 50 minutes for the 10K distance. On the treadmill I am even faster--clocking in at 45-47 minutes when I can stand to do 6 miles on the mill.

Granted, the Peachtree is a tougher course than my previous 10K personal best and certainly tougher than my flat, air-conditioned runs on the treadmill. I was counting on race day magic to get me my Peachtree personal best. And I did it. I ran the hell out of the Peachtree this year. I kicked some serious hill ass yesterday. And those hills deserved it, believe me. Those are some of the same hills that kicked my ass in the marathon. Them hills and I have history and them bitches were going down.

Everything about the Peachtree is grueling (people really have heart attacks every year during/after the race):
The course-- as I have already explained--hilly.
The heat (you know, it isn't a coincidence that the Kenyans always win). It was already 75 degrees at 5 am yesterday morning and I have no idea what it was at the start or finish but I am guessing above 80 below 90.
Then there is the huge crowd that runs it: 55,000 runners. It is packed and it is a party. People hand out beers in Buckhead.
Then there is getting to the start of the Peachtree Race. This can be a road race in itself. It is an absurd obstacle course created by traffic, MARTA, cones, crowds, fluorescent orange tape and little signs white signs directing runners with these numbers here and runners with those numbers there. I left my house at 5:15 am and even then I still panicked a bit about missing the 7:30 start. Luckily, I managed to be at the start by 7:15. I will say being in time group 1A was awesome. I got to use the potty at the Ritz Carlton rather than waiting in lines for the porto-jons with the other ranks.

The gun went off as planned at 7:30 am and I foolishly started my watch right then and started my ipod shortly after (my playlist was 47 minutes flat). In retrospect, I wish I had waited until I crossed the timing mat (or at least had started my ipod first)but at the time I cheerily thought, after realizing my mistake-- oh well, I can depend on my chip to give me an accurate time! Hahahahahaha

I ran the first mile in under 7 minutes. I felt great and while it was a hot morning it was no hotter for me than any of the other times I have run lately. At the 5K point I was at 21 minutes. I told myself to slow down but didn't really listen since I know this course well: It is also part of both the Atlanta half marathon and the full and the bike ride to capitol. The Peachtree is not a course where the goal to run a negative split is realistic-- well, unless you walk the first 5k and then run the last 5k, then yeah, maybe. Besides, I knew the hills would slow me down, and sure enough they did, but I just kept pushing at that wall as much as I could. My buddy Garmin helped me keep it at a sub 9 minute pace as I ran up those tough hills. Even up the famed "Cardiac Hill" by Piedmont Hospital I stayed around a 7:50 pace. Really, that hill isn't the bad one. It is the one that tops out by Peachtree Christian Church that gets me every time, in every race. I slowed there but still, I ran the whole time.

I never even stopped for water and I ran hard and tried to stay focused. I hardly chatted with anyone except maybe the one guy who asked me if my beer money was in my amphib pouch and when I assured him it indeed was we high fived and rallied a "see you at the after party."

At about a 1/2 mile from the finish I realized if I sprinted it I could finish in 45-46 minutes according to Garmin. I tried to pull out my hat trick and sprint hard but I couldn't manage a pace much faster than what I currently had been doing-- which while I had picked it back up the last mile or so to a sub 8 minute pace it still wasn't enough.

After I passed the bridge with the photographers--the bridge that in the past I thought was the finish-- I pushed everything I had left out. I passed one guy and I guess it pissed him off because he picked it and we raced it out to the end. I glanced up at the gun clock and it said 47:11. I stopped my watch and it said 47:08. My playlist still went on and was finished by the time I picked up my bottle of water--so at least I beat out the list. Garmin said my average pace was 7:30 minute mile. Whoo Hoo! My fastest pace was a 5:20 mile. Yeah me! He doesn't tell me my slowest pace but I saw at one point a 8:45 minute mile pace.

I returned my chip and got my t-shirt. I looked for the tent I agreed to meet Steph at but didn't see it. So on to meeting place plan B. On my way to the Park Tavern I ran into a guy who I had shared pre-race banter with and we compared our time; his was just a bit slower than mine. Yeah me again.

I headed into the Park Tavern for the post race party. At this point it was 8:20ish. Not even an hour after I started and maybe it was too early for some but I got a beer and grabbed myself a table. The place was empty except for a few runners and people who didn't run but staked out tables. Remembering it is bad etiquette to drink alone I made friends with a guy who finished in an impressive 41 minutes. We shared a few beers and chatted it up until my sister and Wes finally showed up-- an hour and 3 beers later.

Their times were both a respectable 54 minutes. Wes actually beat Pookie by one second.

I am super impressed with Wes who is normally a cyclist and commented that morning before the race that he may have once walked 6 miles before. Wes was uncharacteristically loquacious. It drove Pookie, the unmorning person, crazy. I, a very chatty morning person myself, thought it was funny. I think Wes thought maybe he was going to be quizzed on his knowledge of the Peachtree and running know how in general as he filled our pre-race chatter and post race celebration with Peachtree trivia. Further showing off his knowledge of the race packet he commented on several occasions about other runners who obviously had "not read their packet"--like the slow ones who did not move to the right during the race or those who ran in costume despite being told not to.

I had a great race and was understandably devastated when I went to find my net time on the ATC website this morning. I searched to find my name in the 47 minute range. Not finding it there I excitedly searched in the 46 minute range and then not finding it there, I searched for it in the 49 minute range. I then looked unrealistically in the 45 minute range and still not finding it finally searched all the women's times. I could not believe it when I found my published time: 59:29 gun time 58:36 net time.

Talk about a bad example of found time. Who wants to find time in a race? The goal is to lose it, beat it, whatever but not gain it and most certainly not gain 12-13 minutes of time for that matter. I can't believe the slander! I have already sent the race officials an email asking to have my time amended. And worse, I feel completely cheated out of my personal record since I have no idea how long it took me to get to the start from where I started. I am guessing anywhere from 30 seconds to a full minute but possibly more as there was some walking and congestion in my group after the gun went off til we reached the timing mat and everyone started running. I know I at least ran at 47:08 10K but no one else knows it. I probably even ran a sub 47 minute 10k but I can't really say that since I don't know for sure that I did.

I just don't know what happened. Bad luck I guess. Either my chip was assigned to another runner (as I did not check it since I did not attend the expo and never saw anywhere at the start to check it), or possibly there was a malfunction in the mat or even the chip itself.

I learned 2 things yesterday: one don't start your watch til your feet pass the timing mat, and 2, check to make sure your chip matches your name.

I hate that not having an "official time" mars my Peachtree experience this year but there will be other Peachtrees and other races. Besides I vindicated myself this morning by running 7 miles in 57 minutes. So there.


  1. We know that you rock - regardless of that damn chip!

    Update when you hear back from the race folks.

  2. You were robbed. And you can totally get away with 27 years when someone asks.