July 1 2018. Installment 1. A few years back at a local road race in Indy I was chatting with local Indy Masters Road Race whiz, Lucie Mays Sulewski. She asked if I had run any of the big prominent races, like Peachtree. I said I couldn’t imagine running in Atlanta on the 4tth of July. The heat would be unbearable, wouldn’t it? She replied it was well worth it; the race was early in the morning and was one of her favorite races of all time. I was not interested then, but I tucked it away in the back of my head. Later, when I got to know some of the Masters runners from the Atlanta Track Club, the idea of running Peachtree moved a little closer to the front of my head. By now I have run Joan Benoit Samuelson’s Beach to Beacon 10K, Greg Meyers’ Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K, the Gasparilla 15K, the Gate River Run 15K, the Tulsa Run 15K, the Utica Boilermaker 15K. Maybe it is time for Peachtree? It is definitely a 'Bucket' Race, starting in 1970 with 110 runners and mushrooming to the 60,000 or so today who combine to make it the World's Largest 10K. That legendary distance runner, Jeff Galloway, won that first event adds the cherry on top! When I contacted the Atlanta Track Club they very graciously provided a courtesy Elite Masters seeded entry.
|My Seeded Bib # and Maps of Starting and Finish areas for Peachtree
So tomorrow I am off to Chattanooga Tennessee. The plan is to drive about 6 hours or so on Monday and then just leave myself a two hour drive the day before the race. I do not want to do a long drive the day before the race.
Mike Anderson, one of the mainstays of the Atlanta Track Club's Men's 60 and up teams, has reached out to provide lots of helpful information about the race and the setting. It appears I was able to find a good Air BnB location for my overnight before the race. Mike tells me I am only about a mile from the start and can probably jog up Piedmont and turn right onto Peachtree and arrive at the start. My elite number and the special tag on my gear bag should get me and my bag through to the Elite Warmup area. The race starts now at 7 am; they moved it up because it had been getting too hot for the runners who start in later waves and are still going into mid-morning. With a 7 am race start I will probably set my alarm for 5:30 am and try to leave by about 5:45 am. That should get me to the warmup area a bit before 6 am. If I recall correctly I need to get my gear bag in for checking no later than 6:15 am; then I can get into the last stages of warm-up. I expect to run into Mike and one of his teammates, Ken Youngers, at the warmup area. Mike has also offered me a ride after the post-race celebrations. So it should all be pretty convenient.
|Early stages of 2018 USATF Masters 8K Championship in Virginia Beach--Me in yellow knit cap running next to 60's friend from Atlanta, Kirk Larson, just before he accelerated and left me behind! [Photo by Pam Fales]
And what about the weather? It is Atlanta in July, so it is not cool, but it is 7 am too. The 3 day ahead forecast shows mostly sunny, 73 degrees and 94% humidity at race time, with winds at 4 mph ENE. At least the wind will not be a factor. By 8 am the temperature will only have risen to 75 although the 'Feels Like' will have moved from 76 to 79. There is also a 3 in 8 threat of scattered thunderstorms starting at 8 am, that could affect us if they move through sooner than planned. Any widespread lightning would cause problems, of course, but the cloud cover that would accompany a little light rain might be welcome. I will be planning on wearing a running hat, possibly soaked in cold water. I have prepped for warm weather running. The last two weeks I have deliberately run later in the morning. Sometimes it has been in the 70's, sometimes even up into the low 80's. So even though I have not been able to match the 90% plus humidity, I have been running in some temperatures warmer than are expected between 7 and 8 am on the 4th.
Most eyes will be on the Elite Athletes in the Open contest and, depending on who enters, the top 'celebrity' Masters. Last year, Bernard Lagat outdueled Abdi Abdirahman for the Masters men's title while Jen Rhines won her Masters contest more easily. I have not seen an entry list for the USATF Open Championship 10K yet. Even so, there will be many Age Division awards that will be contested, including Men's 70-74. How do my chances look? That's a little tricky. As has often been the case in the past few years, I am coming back from injury problems. I thought, nonetheless, that I could run better than the 48:24 I recorded at the USATF Masters 10K Championships hosted by the James Joyce Ramble at the end of April. [For background information, I ran 44:30 at the end of July last year and 42:19 in April of 2016, so I am used to running faster.] In fact I waited until after the Half Marathon Championships in early June to ask for an Elite entry to Peachtree. I did not want to ask for an entry unless I thought I was pretty sure I could run, and run respectably well. When I ran 1:46 and change at the Half Marathon and had no flare-ups of injuries, I felt confident I should be able to run okay. Recent training has confirmed that I am in better condition now than in late April. So I hope to break 47 with a time under 46 probably out of my reach but not impossible. The goal is to run 46:18 or faster; that would give me an 80% age grading score which is deemed a 'National Class' time. If I can stay well under 47, I have a good shot at winning the Age Division. The only time turned in much under 48 in the last few years was last year when 'Coach' Albert Weiringa, from West Florida, ran 46:04. If Bert shows up and I have a good day, it could be a race to watch! If I do not have a good day, I'll be watching him pulling away from me like he did at Gasparilla last year. And, of course, one never knows who else might show up--there are some mighty fast 70 year old's out there! Next report will be after the race.