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Peachtree City 5k/10k 1/16/2010

January 16, 2010

Golf Cart Path Sign

Peachtree City Running Club

Golf Carts? Road Running? What could the two possibly have in common?
How about the Atlanta Track Club and Peachtree City Running Club’s annual Peachtree City 5k/10k? This is another one of the Atlanta Track Club’s Grand Prix Races. This one is put on in conjunction with the Peachtree City Running Club.

This is my first time participating in this race so I was glad when my coach offered up a spot in his carpool. I arrived at Oglethorpe University at 6:45 AM and packed in the car with four men. The trip down to Peachtree City took about an hour.

The weather was surprisingly awesome. Since it has been so cold and miserable for the last two weeks, this weather was greatly appreciated. It was probably in the mid 40’s and overcast for the entire race. I felt a little light running as this is the first time I haven’t been wearing multiple layers.

My coach was nice enough to offer to pace me during the race so that I could finish in my goal time of 49:59 (a qualifying time that I need for another race).  We spent a little time after registration warming up on the race course.

Golf Cart on Path

The unique thing about this course is that the majority of it is run on golf cart paths. This is not to say that the race is around a golf course. In fact, there was not a golf course in sight. Peachtree City is known for it’s use of golf carts to get people around, so they have built miles and miles of golf cart paths.

The course was not as flat as advertised (then again, I have not come across any “flat” races in Georgia.) There were many little hills, which is fine with me. The real challenge was that these were winding paths through the woods and sometimes they weren’t very wide, so if people were running two or three abreast, it made it difficult to pass (not that I was passing too many people).

Running Through Golf Cart Tunnels

The course took us uphill and on the “regular” road for about a mile and a half and then it was onto the cart paths. These paths were mostly scenic with views of the woods and sometimes they took you right behind neighborhoods. My favorite parts were when we got to run through the tunnels. I don’t know why, but I like bridges and tunnels and stuff like that.

My coach was doing a great job pacing me for the first four miles. I was getting the times I needed to finish in 49:59. Then came mile 5 where I seriously slipped up and lost a lot of momentum. Then after a dismal mile 5 came a disappointing mile 6. I lost about a minute off my time on each of those miles. The final .2 miles (where I can usually kick it up and finish strong) was almost all uphill. And not a slight uphill, but a for real up hill. There was a little more than a tenth of a mile where I was not able to push it because of the incline, but as I got to the flat finish and that last tenth of a mile I could see the finish clock. It read 49:56. I really kicked it into high gear and made it in at a clock time of 50:06. I knew that wouldn’t be enough to reach my goal, but I wouldn’t be sure until we got our official chip time results.

My coach was awesome. I spent the majority of the last 2.5 miles staring at his backside as he tried his damnedest  to get me to move faster. I just couldn’t keep up on this race. I know I was holding him back, but I really appreciate his effort.

In the car on the way back home, I predicted that my chip time would be 50:01. When the official times were posted at about 3 PM I checked and was spot on. A chip time of 50:01. Two seconds over my goal time. Two seconds! I just need to work harder and I know I will get the time I want.

This time was a 12 second improvement over my last race, so I know I will be able to knock off those last couple of seconds with a little more training.

Of notable interest in this race was the fact that all the 5k times had to be thrown out due to a volunteer not being present on the course. This was a vital volunteer position as it told the 5k participants where to turn. It seems as though the very fast runners ran too far because no one was there to tell them where to turn. This error means that no one will get any grand prix points for this race. I was just a little disappointed because I would have at least earned 40 points (or maybe more if one of the top three in my age group was not a track club member). There were some very irritated runners in the crowd following that mistake. Oh well, mistakes happen.

As I mentioned, I did get fourth place in my age group. I was a minute and change behind the third place finisher. I really want to work extra hard to start placing in these challenging races.

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