We left Warren and Holly's house at 5:30 A.M. We drove a short distance to the MARTA station, and then we joined several thousand more people and rode the MARTA train to downtown Atlanta. At 6:00 in the morning on July the 4th, all of the MARTA passengers were runners like us! This was Olivia's, Julie's and Clay's first time to ride public transportation. We were all still a little bit sleepy, but it was still exciting!
Julie, Olivia, Jimmy, and Clay at the MARTA station
Me and Jimmy riding the MARTA train
When we arrived at the downtown station, we joined even more runners and walked a few blocks to the starting line area. As we approached the starting area, we saw the beginning of the wheelchair race. How humbling and inspiring to see these competitors.....it made me very grateful for my health!
The Peachtree 10K is the largest 10K race in the United States. This year over 50,000 runners participated! With this size race, everyone does not begin running at the same time. The elite runners start at exactly 7:30, followed by 11 more corrals of runners. To be included in groups 1A or 1B, you were required to submit proof that you had previously run a 10K in under 55:00. Jimmy, Olivia, and Julie all had race times that qualified, so they were put in group 1B. Their starting time was 7:37. Clay actually has run a 10K under 55:00, but I either I did not turn in his time because I felt like it was safer for him to run with me, or he was put in a slower group because of his age......I really can't remember.....registration was back in March! Anyway, the rest of the runners are randomly assigned to groups 2-9. Clay and I were both assigned to group 7. Runners receive their race numbers and electronic timing chips in the mail a few weeks before the race. Each race number was color coded, so you had to stay in the correct corral. The 70,000 #s (group 7) numbers were pink! I was delighted to wear a pink number. I am not sure if Clay was as pleased!
Julie and Olivia at the starting line
Clay and I told Jimmy, Olivia, and Julie goodbye, and then walked several blocks to our corral. When we arrived, we joined the other people in group 7 and sat down in the road.....and waited....and waited.....and waited! Water and coffee were provided to the waiting runners. Around 8:20 we were directed to slowly move toward the starting line. By 8:35, we were there! The announcer gave us the command, and we were off! But it was a S-L-O-W start! We were trapped in between slow runners and many, many walkers.....I looked down at my watch and saw that we were jogging at a 14:40 minute/mile pace. Clay and I had set a goal of finishing in under one hour, and I knew that if we kept this pace, we would never meet that goal! I was disappointed! Gradually, holes in the crowd appeared, and Clay and I weaved in and out of the crowd, dodging runners/walkers, and slowly but surely we were able to pick up the pace. I felt a ray of hope! Maybe we could meet our goal.
The run was overall a pleasant one, and Clay remarked several times that this was his favorite 10K. I agreed. It was a lot of fun running down the streets of downtown Atlanta, and down the street was literally what we did! The first 3 miles of the course were downhill! We quickly made up for our lost time during the first quarter mile of the race. Then we encountered Cardiac Hill, which we had been warned about! Thankfully, Cardiac Hill proved to be relatively minor! These people apparently haven't run the Bodock 5K! Now that race has a cardiac hill!
Each mile of the race offered a water sprinkler which Clay and I both gladly ran through. There was also plenty of water stations (both for drinking and pouring over our heads), and strangely enough--snacks! Pizza, watermelon, and do-nuts! Who could eat while running a 10K?
Around mile 5.5, I grew extremely weary of weaving in and out of all of those runners. I quickly became claustrophobic. I was ready to get away from the massive crowd! Then, we saw the finish line! It was a downhill sprint to the finish---as much as a sprint as we could do with thousands of people running shoulder to shoulder!
We did it! My time was 59:06, and Clay's was 59:07!!!
We walked with the masses through the water bottle line and then to the t-shirt line. This is one race where you are not given your t-shirt just for registering. You must earn it by crossing the finish line. Clay and I picked up our shirts and then searched for Jimmy, Olivia, and Julie, who by the way finished with fantastic times!! Jimmy--45:57; Olivia--50:58; and Julie--46:00. We quickly found them, enjoyed some post-race refreshments, and then walked a LONG way to the MARTA train station.
Look at all of those water bottles on the tables!