Peachtree City 50k
Sunday races are often far less stressful since you have all day Saturday to travel and relax and don’t have to burn any work vacation days. This is not the case the 11th annual Peachtree City 50k which was on Sunday. My stress level was elevated due to needing to be in two places at once; Tuscaloosa and Peachtree City. I wanted to attend the Alabama vs. Texas A&M game in Tuscaloosa since I had not been to a game all season. As a result of leaving the Alabama football game early, I was able to beat the traffic and drove the three hours to Peachtree City albeit getting there at 10:30pm eastern time (with a belly full of Waffle House). The beautiful thing is the race start is only 3/4 of a mile from my hotel.
The race consists of six loops on golf paths through several neighborhoods and around a few lakes. The path is mainly wooded and has five large under-roadway tunnels. The sure footed surface allows for gazing around since each footstep does not have to be calculated like on a trail. The race has a friendly feel with an ideal number of runners (60). The race starts across the street from a large shopping center which allows for ample parking. Both the 25K and 50K start at the same time and follow the same course.
My goal was to run near the time I had recorded the previous year, 3:30. I started out at a brisk pace and quickly found only one other runner wanting to keep up, Ferit Toska. We ran the first loop in unison; and I was not worried because his bid indicated he was running the 25k.
At the end of each loop there is a short out and back section that allows you to see if anyone is within a few minutes of you. In our 33 minute first loop, there were two other runners whom we passed on the out and back.
We dialed the pace back on the second lap to around 6:40 per mile. I had averaged 6:45 the previous year and wanted to have a shot to run under 3:30 if all went well on the last lap. Ferit and I talked as we ran the 2nd loop and I learned of his upcoming Space Coast Marathon in Coco Beach. Fast forward to 20k mark which was about half way on the third lap. Ferit invited me to pick up the pace with him to 6:15 per mile, but I decline and kept trucking. I run 34 minutes per lap for numbers 2 & 3. [Note: Ferit ended up with fifth place overall at the Coco Marathon on 11/25/12 in a time of 2:54.]
I had to run the last three laps alone and without an Ipod, which I had used the previous year. I was consistent with my GU intake (every 45 minutes) and carried a bottle of Nuun water every other lap. I felt decent on the fourth lap and only slightly slowed, 35 minutes. The fifth lap was accompanied by a desire to be done, even with the frequent distraction of passing slower runners.
I completed the fifth lap in 36:31 and made a super quick port-to-potty visit before the bell lap. I had not seen anyone close to me on the out and back sections, so I assumed the other runners were slowing disproportionally to me. After reaching the marathon mark at the start of the sixth lap in approximately 2:58 the wheels begin to fall off the bus. I had around three miles left when I struggled to hold my pace under 7 minutes per mile. This was my first ultra since Miwok 100k in May and I was hurting.
As my pace slowed, I begin to do the mental math of running 8 minute miles for this last two, and still having an overall time of close to 3:30. My left upper hamstring was now talking to me in a painful way. Relentlessly moving forward, while trying to avoid a cramp on this same familiar path; lead me to really question my motivation. My goal of under 3:30 had vanished, and now it was just pride and a victory that keep me going. After a come apart last lap of 40 minutes, it was done, a defense of my title, in a time of 3:33:52.
This race reminded me to respect the distance, even if you had run a few decent marathons in the last 45 days. I cooled down, stretched, showered and enjoyed my Panera bagel given at the race all before the noon checkout (another perk of the extremely close hotel). Thankfully Veteran’s Day is a bank holiday, enabling me to have a relaxing trip back to Birmingham knowing I could sleep in the next day. I had an outpatient dental surgery (crown lengthening procedure) lined up for Veteran’s Day afternoon, since it would force me to take a few days off to recover. After a 9 mile treadmill recovery run, I went under the drill.
Lap # / Lap time / Cumulative Time:
Lap 1, 33:17, 33:17
Lap 2, 34:05, 1:07:22
Lap 3, 34:17, 1:41:39
Lap 4, 35:04, 2:16:43
Lap 5, 36:31, 2:53:14
Lap 6, 40:38, 3:33:52