Saturday, July 4, 2009

"THE" Peachtree Road Race

I'd like to preface this post by saying I had more fun at this race than any other race that I have been a part of.

  • 3:30 a.m. I woke up to eat my morning banana. I usually eat a banana at this time so I can make sure I can have at least one bowel movement before the race. No need for my stomach to be a factor in the race. I got myself ready and then I got my poor son ready who was sleeping deep in a slumber. My sister Lyn woke up at 4:30 and was ready in 30 minutes.
  • 5:00 a.m. We left the house to pick up my sister, Janel.
  • 5:30 a.m. Picked up Janel and headed to the train station.
  • 5:45 a.m. Arrived at the MARTA train station and left for the Lenox Mall stop
  • 6:00 a.m. Arrived at the Lenox Mall stop and headed toward the start line. Eventually we find the starting line and we hang around here. I call Sean and he tells me he'll be down and warming up by 6:40. So Janel and I hang around the starting line soaking it all up. Eventually a FOX 5 Atlanta news correspondent flags us down and asks us if we'd like to do a live demonstration on TV on how to use the D Tags. I almost decline because in my head I'm thinking this will probably interfere with our warm up time and throw us off, but I look at my sister and I can tell she wants to be on TV so I agree.
  • 6:30 Janel and I are on TV on FOX 5 giving a demonstration on how to put the D Tag on our shoes. Nice... Too bad we couldn't record it :(. I'll have to see if I can get a copy of this, but most likely it is gone forever since it was live.
  • 6:50 I call Sean and he tells us where he is at but I'm having problems finding him. He tells me where the elite area is at but I don't see anything. Eventually it is after 7:00 and my sister and I are a bit anxious. I ask a volunteer where the elite area is and luckily she opens a partition and whalla, there it is and there is Sean. We rush and put our things in the elite van and go warm up for the remaining time we have left. I introduce my sister to Sean.
  • 7:25 My sister and I are all lined up. I wish Sean good luck (He has a nice spot at the front of the pack). The elite women are lined on one side and the elite men on the other side. I soak it all up. I'm lined up within ear shot of Brian Sell, Abdi Abdirahman, James Carney, and Anthony Famiglietti amongst other world class runners I don't recognize. The countdown begins...
  • 7:30 The gun goes off!

The race is on. The first thing I try to do is just relax. A lot of people run out ahead of me but I just try to stick to my plan of coming out of the first mile in 5:15. I'm not really racing anyone in particular in this race, just my expectations. The weather is nice and cool and I'm feeling pretty good. I get through the first mile in 5:14.

During mile 2 everything is starting to solidify. The pretenders are starting to drop back and I start to key on several elite women around me. I can also see that they are keying off of me as well. Every move I make, they also make. One of these women was an Ethiopian and the other was a shorter tiny lady from New York. For most of mile 2 I'm running behind both of them. The course begins its first drop in elevation and I hammer it. I start passing people left and right and the 2 women tuck in behind me. I complete mile 2 in 5:03.

Mile 3 is more of the same...downhill. I speed up slightly and continue to pass people left and right. I'm feeling great right now because I'm not having the slightest of issues and my breathing is as smooth as if I was standing still. Everyone else is breathing heavy and fast around me. In my head I'm thinking I'll have a lot left in the tank at the end of the race. I finish mile 3 in 5:01.

At the end of mile 3 and the start of mile 4 is where the uphill battle starts. At first I just try to fight through it and keep a decent pace. Not long after this I look at my Garmin and notice I'm running 5:47 pace, AHHHHH! Nope, I can't afford 5:4x anything at any point in this race so I just try to push through harder. At this point I notice the 2 elite women start to pull away from me, including an elite masters gentleman, Tracy Lokken. I realize that this was the determining point of the race where it would be either a good race or a bad race. So I blocked the pain and difficulty out and just started pumping. Forget the watch just pump up the effort. If I wore myself out, then whatever happens...happens. At this point my easy breathing became very deep and eventually turned to grunting as I tried to will myself uphill. Eventually I came to a downhill at the halfway point of mile 4. This provided me some relief but I wasn't fully taking advantage of the downhill because I was so tired. I realized this and forced myself to go faster downhill. I had to make up the time I lost on the uphill. I was still breathing deep and grunting but I was gaining ground on the 2 elite women. I finished mile 4 at 5:34 pace.

During the start of mile 5 another uphill climb starts but this one is not as steep, but it is longer. It lasts a whole mile. But by this time I was able to gather myself and start to feel better about myself. I was still breathing loudly so the other runners around me probably figured I was going to be done soon. It was at this time a strange occurrence happened. I had passed the two female runners but only the Ethiopian runner was with me. She motioned for me to get in front. Being inexperienced, I wasn't really sure what to do. So I just got directly in front of her and let her draft off of me. She said thank you. That was nice. But then I heard something behind me, was it go faster? I wasn't really sure, so I just said forget this. She can run behind me if she wants but I'm just going to run this race and just worry about myself. So I just took off. During the run I thought I heard my sister Janine say "Hey Bill" from afar. I knew she could be along the route since Janel's apartment is on the route. So I spent the remainder of mile 5 debating with myself whether it was Janine or not. Mile 5, 5:28 pace.

During mile 6 I was in a "net" downhill area so I knew I had to pick up speed. So that's what I did. I started passing more runners and eventually I came upon another elite female who was being escorted by local runners. I had to run around her and the escorts but then I positioned myself directly in front of them. It might have annoyed them a bit, but I didn't care, every man and woman for themselves. I finished mile 6 at 5:16 pace.

Now here is where the funny part starts. In the distance I see can see an orange mat that looks like a finishing mat. So I kick it in to full gear and start passing people left and right. Maybe 10-15 people. I'm really hammering it. But then I begin to worry as I start to get closer and closer to the mat. Because I see the runners continuing to run. Eventually I come close enough to realize that it is NOT the finishing mat. I'm done. I try to maintain at least a decent pace till I can gather myself again but I can't. So I slow down for a bit and many of the runners re-pass me again. I block it all out because I know the race isn't over yet. Eventually I feel comfortable enough to have a another go at it. So I kick it in again. I pass some of the runners that re-passed me. I continue the kick until the end of the race. Eventually I see the race clock above me and see 32:48..49..50 and I'm done. My official time ended up being 32:48. A PR and also under 33 minutes. I felt a sense of relief and happiness. My last .2 was at 4:39 pace. Looking back I feel I could have chopped at least another 15-20 seconds off of my time if I didn't have the early first kick.

After the race I waited for my sister. She ended up PRing herself by over 2 minutes @ 36:28! After the race we entered the elite area which was a clubhouse where we got some light food and were able to get our bags and change if needed. I met up with Sean for a bit and talked a little about the race and then we did a cool down. Eventually we made our way back to the clubhouse. I met up with my sister again and found out that she won an award. First Georgia female! This was a great experience for her because now she has the experience of being an elite runner, winning an award, and will have a lot of motivation for next year. I spotted a few elite American runners in the clubhouse. John Carney and Abdi Abdirahman. I ended up taking a picture with Abdi and 2 other Kenyan runners. Abdi ended up winning the American Men side of the Peachtree Road Race. Eventually I ended up getting a much needed massage. I asked the lady about how my legs felt and she basically said that my legs felt "horrible" and her eyes widened like I had an emergency on my hands. The massage was utterly painful and only confirmed her observations.

Looking back on the race I really had a blast. The great result was icing on the cake. Running in the middle of all of the world class athletes was an exhilarating experience. This experience will stay with me for a while. Here are the splits:

Mile 1 5:14
Mile 2 5:03
Mile 3 5:01
Mile 4 5:34
Mile 5 5:28
Mile 6 5:16
Last .2 4:39
Total Average Pace 5:15

Here are some pictures that tell tell the story:

I had time to clown around and take pictures with my sister before the race:

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All clowning ends as the race starts. I battle through the first uphill. In the second picture I am near the end of the race.

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You can tell how disoriented I am after the the race as I have my singlet on backwards.


After the race we had access to food and a clubhouse.


We also had access to massage therapists. Here you can see Abdi Abdirahman having a few words with John Carney while Carney gets a massage.


I manage to get a picture with some of the top runners including Abdi (Nike), Elkanah Kibet (Auburn Runner, 159), and a runner whose name escapes me.


My sister shows off her award, 1st Georgia female.


Top American Awards


What 50,000 people at a park looks like.


The walk home.



Anonymous said...

Hey Bill,:-)

Congratulations to you (and your sister) on the PR. Did you find out if that was your sister Janine at mile 5? Great race and great report, as usual. BTW, the race results show that both you & Janel had the same age-graded efforts: 83.2%. That's pretty awesome.


junebug said...

you know for once in my life, i got nothin' to say :P

wow bill wow.

incredible experience for you and one you (nor your sister) will ever forget. its awesome that you got to do this...seriously...

loved the report. hope you're doing well my friend...see you soon.

Anonymous said...

Awesome race, great report...pretty cool you guys ended up with the same age-graded %!!


Day Dreamer said...

great race report Bill. You done us proud man.

Bill Blancett said...


Yes, it was my sister Janine that cheered me on. I did notice the age-grading, how freaky is that ?!


I made June speechless...nuff said.

Bob, Sam,

Thanks for the kind sentiments.


geoff said...

Great race Bill. I hope you slow down some now for the longer races this fall. J/K. Instead of eating a banana early in the morning, I just eat mexican food the night before to make sure everything gets cleared out.

Bill Blancett said...


I have a feeling you won't be getting any competition from me in the longer races this fall. If things don't change I'm 90% positive I won't be doing the longer distances in the fall.