As we continue to march forward to the Peachtree I thought it might be helpful to re-post a series of entries I did a few years ago about my experiences with the Peachtree. I hope you enjoy.
The Peachtree is made up of four major hills. Most runners biggest struggle comes right after mile #3. The first of these major hills comes right at the end of mile #3. The second, which is the race’s most famous, comes right after the first hill. So as you finish up mile #3, you begin your first major climb of the race.
The thing about this hill is that at any other time it would not be too bad, but after three miles of your legs getting adapted to running downhill, it is tough to make such a drastic change and demand your legs to take you up hill. Shortly, after you crest this hill, you get a very short break. A very short break! In the distance on the right hand side of the road you can see the buildings of Piedmont Hospital and you know that Cardiac Hill is right upon you.
It is not just Cardiac Hill that is tough, but you are coming off of your first hill of the day and your legs have not really recovered. The sun also is up and it is heating up on the course. You have reached a part of the course that is not shaded, so by the time you get to Cardiac Hill, you are reaching a point in the race where you have put forth a tough effort already. It is a tough hill, but there are also many cheering fans giving you encouragement all the way up.
Once you crest the top of this hill, you get a nice little break that you really need. You have alittle downhill to finish this mile. In my mind, this is the toughest mile of the race. I feel good about the rest of the race if I have run this mile well. This mile is typically my slowest of the day.
The difference of this mile and the miles to come are the types of hills. The two hills on this mile are steep and challenging. The two hills you have left are long and grueling. It can depend on how you prefer your hills. I can handle better the long hills that are not quite as steep.
After you pass mile marker #4 you will cross over I-85. Be ready for this especially if you are further back in the race. Don’t be concerned when the bridge is shaking under your feet. It still feels strange to me. After you cross over the interstate comes the hardest stretch left of the race for me. You will begin another nice long climb. This one seeems to never end. You also will be running right into the sun and it makes it hard to see where you are going. The one place I know I am going is up.
After you finally get to the top of this hill, you will again get another slight decline right before you experience the last and final incline of the race. It again is a long incline and you reach the end of mile #5 at the Woodruff Arts Center.
One of my favorite memories of this section was running with my brother in his first Peachtree. My brother is a fast twitch muscle type of guy. So you can imagine his epic struggle with his first endurance race. By the time he got to this point in the race it took some major convincing to assure him he could finish this race.
We used to go run and train at Stone Mountain park which has a 5 mile loop around the base. This kid would take off laughing at me thinking about how slow I was running. About 3/4 of a mile down the road, I would catch him with his hands on his knees asking how much further! The year we ran the Peachtree was a great year. He realized he could do something he was not sure that he could. It took some coaching down the stretch and convincing him that he could, but he finished it in style. Now this guy is training for his first marathon. We plan to run that one together as well. Now he has to run it since I said it! 🙂
Miles 4-5 can deliver a real beating on you and if you are not careful, you will have nothing left for the last 1.2 mile finish. I would guess that the majority of runners have spent the most of their effort on this portion and have very little left. That is what makes this race as interesting as it is. You really have to plan your way through it.
As you pass the Woodruff Arts Center, you have 1.2 miles to go and you will soon wear that T-shirt!
Next up…The Finish