My experience with the Atlanta 10 Miler on Sunday is a perfect example of the difference a few minutes and a purposeful shift in attitude can make.
This was the second year (and my second time) for the Atlanta 10 Miler, but this year featured a brand new course – so it was kind of like running this event for the first time.
Last year, I was able to walk a couple of blocks to the start line. This year I had to drive – and unfortunately traffic was hideous (which is typical in Atlanta). By the time I parked, I had less than 20 minutes to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, and find my start wave before the race began. If you’ve ever done a race with me, you know that situations like this can turn me into a monster since I’m a little particular about pre-race rituals. However, I really tried to take it in stride as best as I could.
Thankfully, I was able to get everything done pretty quickly and still meet up with some friends before gun time. This lovely group of ladies made me forget about my hectic trek to the start line. I was able to shake off my anxiety and reset my mind to think about the great things the day was going to offer me – perfect racing weather, positive people around me, and a challenging new course.
As I took off, I was happy to see the skyline of my lovely city set against a perfectly blue sky. No clouds at all! Temperatures were in the mid-50s at start time, so it was very comfortable. I was feeling happy and very hopeful that more good things were ahead.
This course was very hilly, but I knew that going in so I just embraced them. I had a lot of help to get me through. One of the best parts of the Atlanta 10 Miler is the cheer zones that are part of the Adopt a Mile program. Atlanta Track Club selects other nonprofits to set up cheer zones and water stations, and those organizations receive a donation for their support. The groups never disappoint, and this year every single one was awesome! From giant puppets from the Center for Puppetry Arts, to the Rockdale Special Olympics crowd dressed up like pirates, to the very raucous Decatur Bulldogs, to the group at mile 5 who created the high-five zone (to name a few)… THANK YOU!
While all of those sights were fun distractions, there was one moment that made me literally laugh out loud. Somewhere around mile six, I discovered a tiny little boy who was maybe 5 or 6 years old grinning and dancing. He also happened to be holding a sign that said “Turn Down for What”. His moves and his mischievous little smile were so funny to me!
Another great addition to this year’s race was the Conquer Cardiac Hill challenge – which gave participants their timed splits of the hill made infamous because of the Peachtree Road Race. It climbs 12 stories in less than a mile, and showed up around mile 7 of this course. After all of the other hills I had already climbed that morning, I wasn’t able to speed up Cardiac Hill as quickly as I would have liked. But it was certainly a great motivator!
I ended up finishing in 1:32:32 officially or a 9:16 per mile pace overall. This earned me a new PR in the 10 miler distance (by a good 3 minutes!), and I was proud of that since this course is no cakewalk!
If you’re thinking this blog post doesn’t really focus much on the actual running of the race, you’re probably right. But this entire event felt like more of a party than anything else! I really had a great time – and all of the spectators and friendly volunteers were a major part of it. So if you were along the course and smiled, clapped, high-fived, cheered, or even happened to glance in the direction of the thousands of runners out there on Sunday morning, thank you!
Do you feed off of course support, or do you not really pay attention to it at all? Leave me a comment or send me a tweet!