Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Peachtree Road Race 10K Recap


It's been a bit of a tradition in our household to run the BolderBoulder each year. The race is the United State's second largest 10K, topping out at about 55,000 runners. The course is fun, the crowd is always awesome and the weather is generally awesome (It's Memorial Day weekend). Well this year since we were all the way in Georgia we decided that there would be no BolderBoulder. Instead I decided to try out the largest 10K in the states--the Peachtree Road Race. Let me tell you, there was some poking and prodding to get me to sign up for this. The Peachtree happens on July 4th, in Atlanta. There are over 60,000 runners--all sweating their way to the finish line! Every time I hear about this race--I hear that it is incredibly fun, but in the back of my mind I keep thinking "Dudes, it's Atlanta, in July--hot and humid...are you nuts!?"

Anyways, this year has been basically a theme of pushing myself to try new things so I figured, "hey, I tried fried okra, and liked that--might as well try this race and see how that goes too." I entered the lottery to get into the race in March, waited anxiously and then in April found out I was in the sub-seeded or second wave. Realizing that I had a good 3 months to prepare for this diddy I set a few goals (finish, finish in the top 100 for women and get a decent time for the amount of time I have to run right now and finish in the top 10 for my age group)

So, fast forward to race day. The hubs and I drove up to Atlanta the night before and stayed at our favorite Bed and Breakfast--the Social Goat. I highly recommend this establishment as a place to stay when visiting Atlanta. It's in the heart of historic Inman Park, steps away from the zoo, a huge park, the baseball stadium, and a number of good bars and restaurants. It's a perfect example of an urban farm (yes, there are animals!)--and the B&B is comfortable and cozy. The owner Kristie and her partner are super nice and knowledgeable about all things Atlanta. Plus, it's close to a MARTA station--good for us on this trip since we needed to trek on down to Lennox mall to the start of the race.

On race morning the hubs and I got up early--5am early, put on my super duper race outfit:

Super Duper Race Outfit
got to the MARTA and traveled with our fellow racers--and about three regular people down to the start.  First stop: the bathrooms. Nice bathrooms, long lines. Something I'll never understand is that I saw a LOT of people in very late corrals in line before me--like a "Y" corral trotting on into the was 6:30 AM--their start wave was predicted at 8:45! Sleep in! Come a little later--poop in the comfort of your home! Maybe they just wanted to be part of the action.

With the bathrooms out of the way I pinned on my number, and got up to my wave. I started feeling a little nervous as the announcer started telling us every minute we had until start time, but I just kept focusing on what I needed to do--stay relaxed at the start--remember what I'd read about the course: down hill the first 3, then a hard hill at four, and rolling through 6.

The gun went off and off we went...within a couple seconds one person dropped a roll of $20 bills on the ground! I mean like probably $200. People started trampling to get the money and while I saw it..I was also afraid of getting stepped on, so unfortunately it was someone elses lucky day!

I got going on the course and just like they said, deep downhill the first three. It felt easy and relaxed, which is good but also I felt like means to also hold steady and remember what is coming ..we got to the 5K and I looked at my watch and was surprised to see that I was at around 19 min for the 5K. In a position for a pretty  good time! I could feel the urge to start to push coming over me--and then I saw it..This hill, I think they actually call it Cardiac Hill. A big descent probably about a quarter of a mile. This was a push that required my good old cue words "Not fast but steady, not fast but steady" all the way up. I felt like I conquered the hill but paid the price on the pace just a bit.

4-6 were good miles, rolling hills--nice pace..

I actually ended up accomplishing all my goals for the race--top 70 for women, top 10 in age group and I got a better time than I expected. In the end I got done and I was thinking to myself I had more to give, but wasn't exactly sure where I was at--so I played it safe and smart the entire way. In my "training" I've really just been hammering out runs--no real structured workouts to gauge where I'm at. Half the time I don't even wear my Garmin, I just go by I basically guessed a goal time.

Here's what my thoughts on the race itself.
Good organization with water stops, lots of fans, good corral set up and enough bathrooms etc. The course is point to point so it's hard for fans--The hubs missed me at every single point and was racing along in the MARTA to even try to get to the finish line. Basically you have to split up and decide that your fans are going to be at the end or the beginning.  You could station them at the end--and they could push into the course (say mile 5) and then get to mile 6 to see you, but don't think they will be able to see you start and finish. No way--unless you have a bike. We are strongly considering this.

The course is pretty fun. I liked the descent at the beginning and then the rolling hills--also the way it went through Atlanta--and not the crappy parts either. I liked that it was point to point and I actually enjoyed that it was challenging. It kept me engaged the entire time. I thought that was great. 

Maybe I missed it but I saw the mile markers at 2 miles and 5K--NO WHERE ELSE. I literally thought I was finishing when I came upon the HUGE overhead photographer station which apparently is located at mile 6 (not labeled btw)..this resulted in a great picture of me (finally breaking 40 min hooray!) then realizing wtf, I'm not actually done! I was passed the station at that point-- I wish they had gotten that memorable moment. In short--no clearly labeled mile markers makes Cody very confused and unhappy.

Confusing finish area. I *think* there was some sort of corporate party area..this wasn't clearly labeled. We got lots of peaches and ice cream--then left. At the BB everything is clearly labeled--plus you get a tee shirt AND a lunch bag. ::Shrug:: I really missed the lunch bag this year :(

This guy--Made the race:
Peaches and Sweat!

As I predicted the weather was warm and damp. I was quite moist at the end of the race as was everyone else around me. I cannot imagine how the people in later waves must have felt.  It wasn't horrible though--and 60,000 people must think it's okay..when you go through the numbers--it is a TON of local people. All these Georgians running this race. They obviously haven't gotten the memo about Atlanta in July ;D.

Oh. Afterwards we went to Fox Bros BBQ--it is one of the best BBQ places I have ever been to.
The entire trip was really fun! In short. I would recommend and repeat this race! 


When asked to identify "exceptional performers," often times people will name someone other than themselves. They often name someone famous, a great athlete, an actor or performer. It's hard--even uncomfortable to look to yourself and say "I have greatness inside me. The potential is there."

 I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Or more specifically what makes what separates "great" from average? When I think of truly great performers, they all have two things in common: the first--a clear goal. And the second--they know the goal, why they want to get it--and are willing to take a risk. Sometimes that goal appeared to be HUGE (I think of Roger Bannister--breaking the 4 min mile, Sir Edmond Hillary climbing Mount Everest, my friends who have wanted to go to the Olympics etc)--and even the people closest to them have said "IMPOSSIBLE!" and yet, they believed in themselves--and took risks to get there. Some risks were big (Look--people thought if you ran faster than 4 min you would explode) and some--a bit smaller (one friend of mine moved across the country--to a place she had never been and a climate she had NEVER experienced before!) to get to their goals.

These two things--A goal, and a risk--it seems pretty simple, yet it can be so challenging--you get to a barrier to your goal: Time, money, moving, kids, your job--and all the sudden: you have to take that risk--and ask yourself: is my goal worth it? Everyone I can think of who has gotten to this fabled "greatness" has said it was.

When I look at the quote above, I think it's awesome. I agree. We all have the ability to reach our own definition of greatness. It may not be climbing a huge mountain, or breaking a barrier, or going to the Olympics--it's YOUR definition of greatness! It's about setting that goal, and then knowing that when you set the goal there will inevitably be a risk to achieve it.

If when faced with the risk, you identify it, and decide the end state of your goal is worth the risk--even in the face of failure to see what CAN happen--THAT is when greatness occurs, and boundaries are pushed.

Good luck finding your greatness and taking those risks.

---This is how I find my greatness. How do you find yours?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The long road...

Wow, it has been a moment since the last blog. I just looked at the last date of the post and it was November 17th!
Things have been so busy around here and I feel as I am just now starting to "settle" into life in Georgia. That doesn't always mean relaxed but at least I know my schedule and have somewhat of a routine down.
Since that last post a lot of things have happened: I was essentially playing where in the U.S. is Cody. I traveled from Georgia, to Colorado, to Oregon, to Colorado, to New York, to Georgia (did you get that?) We celebrated our first Christmas in Georgia, and I started to really get involved in my new job.

While doing all this traveling, I picked up some sort of terror illness. I seriously have never been so sick in my life. A hacking cough, hard to breath, something that would not ease up, at some point, while coughing it seemed I cracked a rib (no really).
I got sick around Thanksgiving, and the illness prevailed until...well mid-January! This, along with all the traveling essentially created forced down time for me..which was good and bad. I needed the rest, but wow. I hadn't planned on it going on for weeks and weeks and weeks, sapping my base down to nothing. It was pretty disheartening. The cold had settled in my lungs, which was also limiting my exercise options to some degree.

In mid-January I finally started running 3 times a week, first for about 35 minutes and I'm now up to about 4 days a week, with my long run at 9 miles--this week probably pushing to 10. It hasn't been easy! That's why this post is titled "The long road..."

Usually when I have come back from down time there is a certain amount of anxiety and excitement that goes along with it--and those feelings have resulted in me losing a bit of composure and pushing too hard--my schedule will tell me 20 minutes and I will blow that off, run 50 minutes, at a super fast pace and pay for it the entire next week.

This time, because I have been sick..and at times my lung capacity actually limits my potential, I am taking it as an opportunity to practice patience, and some self-talk. When I feel anxious or even negative about a run I work to reframe the situation. On one run I moaned aloud..."I'll NEVER be in shape again! This is a losing battle!" In this case I worked to re-frame the situation, telling myself "Okay you feel weak, but you still got to 50 minutes today..feeling weak is not the same as your aren't performing as weak as you think." I ran faster at the beginning than at the end, so I took that as a positive from the run as well.

Right now, in each and every run--I'm working to take two to three positives from each run to build confidence in myself and the training base I'm working to rebuild. "I ran further," "the pace was a bit faster," "I maintained that pace for longer today." I know if I can maintain, say 7:35 pace for 5-6 miles I can set a mini-goal to try to average that for 7 to 7.5 miles on the next run. This has been extremely helpful for building up my confidence and showing that I can indeed still run. I've actually told myself, "it's still there, you still have it."

The next step in this long road back is finding a goal to shoot for. I'm contemplating a couple different races coming up in the area. One thing I am thinking about is what would I really like to do? There are a variety of types of races around my area: road races, trail races, mud runs. I've done a lot of road races, and right now I'm sort of contemplating doing a trail race just to spice things up and have some fun trying out something different. I have a goal time in mind for the half marathon for 2012, but right now coming back from down time, I'm thinking this time is more appropriate for either the summer or fall of 2012, and the spring could really be used for building strength, endurance and exploring some other types of races, so that is what I'm thinking about right now in terms of goals and race selection. I'm going to be deciding this fairly soon because it will also drive a bit of my training, and also of course give me something to look forward to!

So, there is where I'm at on the long road that is running, illness and recovery.

Have you ever experienced a set-back in your training?

How did you deal with it?