This originally appeared on my soon to be phased out blog mssoulpower.com
On July 4, 2011 the 41st running of the Peachtree Road Race had the the largest field of runners/walkers/crazies collected in one place at 60,000 registered and 55,090 finishing. This one was unlike any of the previous 12 I’d participated in, but they never are.
Pre-Race – it’s all mental
All the training was done. I was set to take about 2 minutes off last year’s time. Did the whole hydration thing on Sunday to the point of floating away, simple meals with vegetables, protein and carbs and adequate rest. I was ready as far as my body was concerned. My mental state not so much… Disgusted, disappointed, depressed and dismayed YEAH all the D words but what the hey, it wouldn’t be life if stuff didn’t go wrong, but I digress. When I woke up race morning I was fairly skittish. The temperature but more so the humidity this year was not going to be in our favor. In some of the hot races past, I’ve seen people pass out on the course, toss their cookies and though I didn’t see it, I was on the course a few years back when an otherwise healthy man had a a heart attack and died. So by the time I hit the car I was in full froth, lathered up with anxiety. In fact I almost turned around at Jimmy Carter Blvd because my stomach was really acting in lieu of the turnaround I put on My Favorite Things (John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner et al) and proceeded to Doraville station. I’m a wily veteran, I did some heat training. No PRs (personal records) today, I would slow it down, complete the race and get my shirt.
There’s plenty of visual stimulation at Peachtree. At Doraville station, the end/beginning of the Northeast line, it was the usual mayhem. Long lines queued up to get Breeze cards, police directing traffic, folks running late and using all their energy to run for the train or back to the car for forgotten items, families prepping, people telling war stories of Peachtrees past, and the train conductor who always sounds bored to tears to be working on the holiday. Upon arrival at Lenox station and heading to the start waves it gets even better.
There are costumes, flags waving, plenty of silly head gear and something that I’ve never really paid much attention too but did this year, folks looking for race numbers. I stopped and talked to one guy, who had a number but whose buddy, a member of the armed services wanted to run with him but didn’t have a number so he was hustling to get one for his friend, which was really cool. I suspect that he got one as well because some of the other folks I saw hustling for numbers ended up on the course with one.
There’s a number of radio stations, live bands and people along the route who cheer all of us on. It’s fantastic. I’ve been in the very back before with an 8:50 start and they cheer and play just as hard for the whole 50-60k people. This year’s musical selections included Temperature (Sean Paul), Power in the Blood (of Jesus), Jungle Boogie (Kool and the Gang) and all other manner of genres of music as well as bongos, congas and such. I had a chance to talk to a lady while queued up for the start who also had been running Peachtree for some years and she shared that all though she’s done this numerous times, she still gets nervous this year she even felt sick at one point we laughed together and at each other for the silliness.
There’s no way to get around it, the race was an absolute BEAST this year. 75 degrees and 78% humidity dashed all hopes of making my time so I took it easy. By mile 3 (where you climb to Justin’s restaurant and Piedmont Hospital) I was on pace to hit my time, I was feeling good. By mile 4 I’d slowed considerably and considered walking because something just was not right. Even though I had run through all the sprays (including the holy water) I just couldn’t get right. Then that silly thing called EGO kicked in and said hello…. you can run 7 miles, what’s 6.2? What’s your problem? Finish running this thing and get that shirt. 4 to 5 was a struggle. Miles 5 to 6 were a bit better but I just didn’t have the juices going to push me in the last .2 between the photographers and the finish line, I made it though.
I was supposed to meet up with some of the Shed fam to take pics after the race and had a little time to kill. I proceeded to pick up the coveted shirt, took some pictures and then it hit me, my HEAD was SPINNING. I said ok, I just need some Powerade, maybe the blood sugar is low or something. So I headed all the way back to the street to get the Powerade and started to head back to get one of those finisher photos. On my way, and after drinking some of the Powerade I felt worse. Turned right back around and went straight to the medical tent, which was next to the Powerade. I have NEVER been to the tent, EVER!!!! They checked my blood sugar, normal, blood pressure fantastic. It was a little bit of heat exhaustion, which made sense because at a certain point before I headed back to the medical tent, I couldn’t hear anything anymore, and I was a bit disoriented. The folks in the medical tent were the BOMB.COM. They got me cooled down with multiple applications of icy towels and regular Powerade (not the 0 cal stuff I was drinking) and eased my nerves. Once I was sufficiently cooled and advised to keep drinking I was released and headed home. Unfortunatley I didn’t get to meet up with the gang, but they were real cool and tried to locate me at the tent (thanks, Alicia, Shauna, Jeff, Dominique).
Thoughts on #13
Well it HAD to happen, I mean 13 is supposed to be an unlucky number. I did all I could to make it go wrong in the beginning but it didn’t happen, it never really did. Heat exhaustion doesn’t qualify as a “go wrong” and 13 really didn’t prove really unlucky at all in fact I was fortunate and blessed. First I ran the entire course, finished and got the shirt. Second, the Creator gave me the good sense to know that there was a problem and as such sent me to the tent to help me avoid ending up face first in the grass. Third, they have a bang up group of volunteers in the medical tent who get you back on your feet to make the sojourn home and fourth I got some great friends who had my back and undoubtedly would have found me had I remained in the tent.
So #13 is a wrap, it wasn’t the best ever but it was an experience and at the end of the day, it is all about the experience, whether good, bad or in between. You can believe that if I’m on this earth in 2012, I’ll be headed down Peachtree street again with 59,999 of my closest friends.