Sunday, July 06, 2008

Peachtree Road Race 08 Race Report

I love the Peachtree Road Race!

Not because it is a sure fire PR (see Silver Comet 10k and half marathon for that). But as a native Atlantan I've grown up with the Peachtree. I love it's tradition and that every year there is something new to experience.

When I was a kid my dad ran it every year-- you know, way back when it was a tiny race, not the 55,000 human tsunami that rolls down Peachtree Street race that it is today. He would proudly don his t-shirt when we would go watch fire works at Lenox Square. And that was back when there was green space in Buckhead and no sky scrapers. Told you guys I was getting old.

In 1985 Lala even ran it. I remember that because I loved her Peachtree t-shirt. It was gray with just a peach on it and had the BMW emblem on the back (I had thing for BMW's). Best of all it was a real small t-shirt not the small race t-shirts you get today which are really more like mediums.

But even though I have grown up with the Peachtree tradition this year marks only the 5th Peachtree Road Race that I have run in. Remember though, I wasn't a runner until I was almost 27. And the only race I ran in the beginning was the Atlanta half marathon-- which, by the way, is my favorite race. In case you were asking.

The first year I ran the Peachtree was right before I turned 30--2001. I was still fat from having Carmella --recall that I gained 60lbs with her. She was 4 months old and I had about 10 or so lbs still to lose. However, I had been back to running since she was 3 weeks old and had been working my butt off (literally) to get my body back and be back in shape. Trust me on this: Running after having a baby while carrying around 35lbs of excess weight and nursing equals months of crappy runs. It was hard!

I don't really remember much about running the race that day. As a first time mom who was nursing exclusively pretty much around the clock I was so focused on the logistics of how long I would be gone. Certainly running 6 miles didn't take much time but running the Peachtree involves much more than just running. Getting to the start, waiting in your corral, running then 6.2 miles and then navigating back from the finish can be a 3 hr ordeal if not longer. Seriously, I spend more time at the Peachtree than I do any other race and that includes marathons.

Ryan had driven me to the race that morning and we parked at hotel Nikko (now Grand Hyatt). I nursed Carmella in the parking lot at the very last possible second and then ran to get in my corral. I was very stressed out about not making it back to my baby in time. My boobs were a 3 hour time bomb as Carmella nursed every 2-3 hours during the day. As it was it turned out it didn't matter how quickly I got back to her. The adrenaline and the heat caused me to leak the whole race. I was totally grossed out by my sweaty milky stinky self. Honestly, I have no idea how long that race took but I think I came in under the hour. And that year was by far the hardest 10k I have ever ran.

Here is a picture Bubbles took of me running that day (please note the old school headphones and radio). They were spectating over by R Thomas:

Here is Carmella spectating the race with Ryan:

I didn't run it the next year because we were out of town. And then I didn't run it the next year either because I was 36 weeks pregnant and couldn't run. My bladder could only take running until I hit the 34th week and then it was done. Running is not so much fun when you are peeing all over yourself. That just kinda takes all the glory out of it.

I was out of town again in 2004.

But the next year, 2005, I ran it. I ran under someone else's number. I believe I was back in the 7's corral again. I met some guy who said he was gunning for around 48 minutes. I thought that sounded good so I drafted off him. He was like 6ft 5 and I just tucked in behind him and followed. I don't know if he even realized I was there until I breezed past him in the final stretch. Came in right over 48 minutes.

In 2006 I got a qualifying time by running the Chatthoochee Challenge in February in 47 minutes and change. Finally, I was in Time Group 1A. Wow. What a different experience. Biggest perk is getting to use the potties at the Ritz. Unfortunately I didn't know to check my timing chip and apparently I ran under someone's name. That sucked because I actually ran a 10k pr that day.

In 2007 I was trying to get a sub seeded number but came up short with PR time of 43:47 (you need 41:49 or faster). So still in Time Group 1A. I knew that a PR wasn't going to happen so I didn't even try. I was just jockeying to get to the Park Tavern in a timely fashion so to reserve tables for all my friends. I ran it that year in 44:45. Not too shabby and my fastest Peachtree yet.

This year I wasn't planning on running. I really want that sub seeded number and I want to wait to run again until I've got. Also, they changed the course this year--which I give a HUGE thumbs down to.

And, lastly, as much as I love the Peachtree --let's be honest--it is a pain in the ass to get up at the crack of dawn and deal with getting downtown just to run 6.2 miles. I pretty much run that far-- if not further-- everyday.

But my father in law (Poppy) had an extra number in the 3's and I figured oh what the heck. Then my neighbor had an extra number she wasn't using so I asked Sam (running partner) if she wanted it. No. So I half jokingly asked Ryan-- as I am always trying to get him to do stuff with me. He said yes if I promised to run with him. So I did and I got to experience a Peachtree I have never seen since usually I am so focused on getting from point A to point beer as quickly as possible.

Before I show you my photo journal of the race I want to yet again say that MARTA sucks. It was the only bad part of the whole race. Which in my experience is almost always the case when I take MARTA. I HATE MARTA! It is not smarta. I'll get to why Marta pissed me off later but really Marta pisses me off just thinking about it. Makes my blood boil just going into their parking decks.

Ryan had a very unpleasant experience involving Marta and now I think he is on board with me as to why Marta sucks. When we finally arrived at the Buckhead station he needed to use the restroom and went to wait in line. This is where I left him since I needed to head south down Peachtree and him north anyway.

Let me cut to the gist. Basically the men's Marta station restroom has 2 potties but no stalls. All open. So Ryan is in there peeing and another guy comes in and starts laying paper on seat to sit down and. . . well you know, the only reason men sit down on a toliet and it isn't to pee. Needless to say Ryan rushed out there ASAP and was certainly not loving his Peachtree experience thus far.

Though I must say I did warn him that Marta never proves a good idea.

Okay, now that I have gotten the obligatory Marta rant out of the way, let's move on.

Since we had numbers in the 3's and 8's I gave Ryan the 3's and I took the 8's and decided I would jump in past the start. I've seen other people do this in past years but I was still very worried that this was going to be a problem. But apparently everyone and their brother does this as there was tons of people around me jumping in.

I am glad I did this because I got to see the race from a perspective I never get to see it: as a spectator--however brief. Here all the high lights (as I didn't take any pictures on MARTA so I have no low lights):

Getting to see the male leaders. Lala calls them animals because how effortlessly and fast they run doesn't seem human. I blinked and they went past.
The women leaders. I think it was the the girl in black with white shorts in the middle that you see that won for the women:
People that were jumping in. : Critics, please note. I do not advocate jumping in a race post start. In any other race that is known as cheating. But the Peachtree for most is just a cattle call and you are not timed or recorded. So if you paid your entry fee and you want to jump in, just be sure to do after all the people who worked their butts off to get a qualifying time go by. They are running a race. Don't ruin it for them. Wait until you see the 2's or 3's to hop in and for crissakes don't jump in and start walking. Walkers in the back please.

After the leaders and the seeded and sub seeded comes the wave of humanity:
I was surprised. 2 people called out my name. John, a triathlete that I see all the time, everywhere (gym, trail, road, pool) training. I was really surprised he picked me out and called me by the right name since about half the time he thinks my name is Melanie. And Kevin also saw me and called out to me.

As the early time groups passed I yelled out to friends who I knew were in those groups: I yelled for Steph to beat Doug! And when the 2's went by I yelled out for Fishstick and Mr. Stick.

I was lucky and caught Poppy going by. I almost missed him:

Tara had come down from the start to jump in with me. We had some guy take our picture. He didn't have a number but wanted to jump in. Someone had given Tara an extra number so we passed it on to him and told him now he could get a t-shirt.

Finally we started seeing the 3's go by and started looking hard for Ryan. When we saw him, after a quick picture we jumped in the rolling wave and started our race.
Shortly after that I saw Tracy:
Tara and Tracy.

I spent a good bit of the race running backwards so I could get pictures. I also tried to collect as much swag as possible. I got a Moe's t shirt (which I threaded through my top, V8 hat and some mardi gras beads (no I didn't have to show my tatas).

We lost Tracy when Ryan and Tara stopped to grab some water. Then, awhile later, Tara needed to pee so made good use of the porto johns. I am so glad we did because otherwise I would have missed getting this gem: That is one brave dude.

I missed getting a picture at Jesus Junction. I did see the priest in front of St Phillip's sprinkling the holy water but we were on the otherside. I wish we had been able to run over there because we could have screamed "It burns! It burns!" when he tossed the holy water on us. Oh well, next year.

Then we started our decent down Peachtree to Peachtree Hills. This is a great down hill. No matter what race I do I am always feeling awesome at this point. Then right after you get all those hills that take you into midtown and downtown and you start seeing smiles turn to frowns.
See how estatic Ryan looks:

Tara snapped one of the two of us:

Around here we lost Tara. She ended up meeting up with her sister and they finished together pretty much right after we did.

I had started looking for beer in mile 2. It wasn't until after mile 3, maybe 4 I found some. These people gave me some:
I kept running back and forth up and down the hills to encourage Ryan. I know I annoyed the crap out of him but he kept running and ran up every hill.

I saw these people right before mile 5:
By this point their body paint was melting off of them. It was getting very hot.

Finally in the last mile I found the Holy Grail of the race. PBR!:

I drank it that last mile. It tasted great! I toasted a few people around me that also had beers. Ryan had a sip but later said it was the worst tasting beer he has ever had.
Ryan approaching the finish. He isn't sure when he started but the clock is gun time. I think we were 65-70 minutes.

Me after the finish:

The party this year was O'Terrill's. It was fun but not as much as the past few years at Park Tavern. The Tavern is just bigger and the spread better. New this year you paid your $10 and got 3 tickets. I guess the days of drinking 10 beers and eating as much food as you want are over.

Steph and Doug had met some guy, Bob, that was so inappropriate in his humour ( I thought Ryan was going to kill him) but he had snagged a table and offered to share. He was a seeded runner and ran in 37 minutes. I teased him about his "tiny number" for quite awhile. He tried to get us involved in his ticket stealing scheme but it fell apart. I felt like we were underage teenagers up to no good shennaigans not 30 and 40 something year old adults who had just finished a 10k. Keep in mind all this is well before 10 am.

Here is (from left to right) Tara, Katherine, Ryan, Bob, Doug, and Steph (note how no one really wanted to get too close to Bob and his tiny number):
Katherine, Tara, Steph and Me:

Guy who's name I forgot, Ron and Steph:

We left O'Terrill's after our tickets were used up and started the death march through the maze of Atlanta streets to a Marta station. I saw this guy who had recently finished his race: Again, this is a race very few people take seriously. This race is Atlanta's Mardi Gras.

As we were walking to Marta I spotted an old friend. Laci. She grew up right up the street from me. I knew she was running but havent' seen her in years. And half the time I never see anyone I know at local races so it is pretty funny that I ran into her and so many others.

And Laci, if you are reading, Tara and I are definitely up for getting together for some drinks.

Finally we made it to Marta but a train was broken down and no trains were getting through. There was a huge delay. Not to mention it was 8 million degrees. On a cold day Marta stinks so you can only imagine what it was like with 100's of runners in the station.

So Katherine called her friend Lindsey to come pick us up. She said she would meet us over by the Aquarium and to call her when we got there.

We all went into some bar--which I can't remember the name of-- to wait for our ride and had another round. It was finally 11 am. Just before leaving Ryan insisted I go check out the men's room. After startling some guy who wasn't quite finished, I went and took a picture: Those are TV's over the urinals. I really don't think you need to be encouraging men to hang out in the restroom so I totally don't get the purpose of it.

And thus ends this year's Peachtree tale. Lesson this year is (again) to not take Marta and to (again) definitely send in a qualifying time so I can be in Time Group 1 if not (hopefully) sub seeded.

Last week's totals:
Running: 40 miles
Cycling: 71 miles
Swimming: 1 mile
Hiking: 2 miles

Previous week:
Running: 43 miles
Cycling: 100 miles
Yoga: 1 hour


  1. Sounds like you at least had a good time. I agree about Marta. Never new there was a website to tell just how bad it sucks.

    When I got home, I had told my wife I think next year I may just go out there and do the beer run and have fun instead of running for a time.

    Atlanta half your fav? Wow! I only did it last year but Id have to call it my least fav.

  2. Great Pictures and sounds like you all had a great time!

    Happy Birthday to You,
    Happy Birthday to You,
    Happy Birthday Dear Ms Natalie,
    Happy Birthday to You!

    Hope you have a wonderful birthday!

  3. Happy Birthday Natalie!

    You know, I think we (I) have met Bob before. He and his friend seemed awfully familiar to me.

    We saw my old boss and another friend from work on the way back to Marta - it's neat how you always see someone who you've not seen in years at the race. We saw Melanie Phillips pre-race. I haven't seen her in 10 years and she looks exactly the same.

  4. Sounds like you guys had fun! Sorry I missed you. I wouldn't have been much fun to hang out with. I'm definitely not taking the race seriously next year. That's what the other 10Ks are for.

  5. De-lurking here! I've been reading your blog for a week or so now and I think we're long lost sisters or something! Happy Birthday to you! My birthday is tomorrow 7-8-81, and I live in Georgia (about an hour south of Atlanta). I'm really enjoying all of your posts - you are an inspiration to me! :)

  6. What a fantastic report, I felt I was actually spectating there! Someday I MUST run in Atlanta, sounds like so much fun.

    I'm still laughing with your "it burns, it burns" Maybe next year you could also spit out green pea soup and have your head spin around.

    Give Ryan a pat on the back for me.

    Happy Birthday, before you know it you'll be in an easier age group!

  7. Lala thinks she ran and got that shirt in '84-she also ran again sometime in the 90's with pop and cousin Ray.(the shirt was orange that year)

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