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 two greatest moments on race day are the start line and finish line. However, what happens inbetween is the real story. What you learn and experience comes between those two. Your story is not in the start and finish lines but what you do with the middle. There is no better feeling than crossing the finish line, however, the whole reason you have those emotions is only because you know what it took to reach it. Not just on race day, but the journey to get to this moment. There has never been a marathon I have run where the last mile was not spent on thinking about the months of training to get there.
So where were we? We just passed mile marker #5 and the Woodruff Arts Center. Keep pushing up the hill, because it is your last. Once you get to the top and make a slight turn to your right, you reach the Colony Square area. Once you reach this point, you are 1 mile away from the finish. When I get to this point I say the same thing each year, “You can do anything for one mile.” And you can.
Right after you pass Colony Square is 14th Street. 14th Street is there to tease me. If you have run this race for many years, you will remember this used to be your road to take a left hand turn into Piedmont Park. The good news is that you know once you see 14th Street you are getting close. Your turn is now 10th Street. The countdown comes with each street that you pass as you continue to look for 10th. You also noticed as you approached Colony Square, the crowd started to thicken with each and every step, so you are really pumped up at this point. Stay controlled because you are not quite finished.
You finally see the crowd in front of you and you know the left turn on 10th is here. Keep it composed though, because it feels like you are closer to the end than you really are. You still have about 6/10 of a mile to go. You are mostly downhill to the finish. I say mostly because there is one very small incline about half way but it is really nothing to speak of. I usually try to stay controlled to the incline and then cut it loose.
Also, don’t confuse the photographers overhead taking your picture with the finish line. Years ago I got excited and slowly disappointed when I noticed what that really was. Once I crest the small incline it is time to really let it go and finish strong. You know what to do from here. There are so many people crossing the line and it is quite an experience.
It is time to collect your T-shirt. That is your reward for a hard day’s effort. It is a great feeling to see the thousands of runners and spectators in the park and to know you had the chance to compete in an Atlanta tradition and a world famous race. What makes this sport so unique is to have a chance to run on the same course at the same time as the world’s fastest runners. That happens in no other sport.
The most enjoyable part of the day for me comes next. Seeing family member after family member collect their shirts and celebrate makes it complete. Watching the rest of my family each and every year celebrate their own victories.
If you want to run a great race, run the Peachtree. If you want to have an experience you will be able to create memories with, make sure it involves others. The Peachtree like any other race is unique and a race I love to run. But what really makes it special are the 60,000 unique stories that make it up. The Peachtree is not a story of 1, it is a story of 60,000. This was just a few of mine.
If you are running this year, I wish you the best of luck and I hope maybe this gives you a chance to mentally prepare for this great race and enjoy it even more. If you are not running, this is your open invitation to join your story to the story of others, if not here, then somewhere.
Next up…things I have learned for the Peachtree race. (If you enjoy humor from the lessons of others, this is one you will want to read.)