Saturday morning I ran five miles down Peachtree Street from Buckhead to Midtown for the third time since May 15. This time I saw more runners getting ready for July 4th, even though it felt hotter than a firecracker.
I know from my glory days running the Peachtree 31 years ago that it’s a good idea to run the actual AJC Peachtree Road Race course in the weeks leading up to it. I hadn’t done that in years, but I always knew it was a good idea for other people.
Saturday, after I cleared Cardiac Hill, I was surprised to see an Atlanta Track Club volunteer staffing a table on the sidewalk and handing out water. She said ATC volunteers will be handing out water along the race course during the remaining weekends in June. I thanked her, just in case she wasn’t a mirage.
If you give the course a try before July 4th you’ll notice a few things that might get lost in the bustle of the race.
For most of this decade the curbs of Peachtree Street developed a walled-in feel, as massive condo buildings rose on both sides of the road in Buckhead and Midtown.
In a sign of the times, a sizeable obstacle on the left sidewalk at the former Buckhead Village is a big green wall that screens a stalled construction project. The sidewalk there is blocked, forcing runners to either cross to the other side of Peachtree or run into oncoming traffic at a blind curve. Choose wisely.
Running on asphalt July 4th instead of the sidewalk may be easier on knees and ankles, but on the concrete you’ll see some archaeological glyphs from Peachtree past. The photo shows a fading two-mile marker in front of a church at Jesus Junction.
I was hoping to find out last Saturday how close I am to my goal of finishing the Peachtree in less than an hour. I ran five miles in 48 minutes, so I think I’m getting close. But I lost so much steam trying to maintain pace up Cardiac Hill that I reluctantly walked a couple of hundred yards after the water station to catch my breath.
So my strength and energy are close, but I’ve still got work to do on my pace. I’ve been trying to run steady up hill and accelerate a bit on the downhill. I’ve been successful shaving off time when I do that, but I struggle with it because I’m used to catching my breath a bit on the downhill.
Do you have a strategy for pacing yourself over a hilly course like the Peachtree? Steady as she goes, or like an 18-wheeler – slow going uphill and break away down the slope?