I’ve run the AJC Peachtree Road Race many times and I tend to get the same postmortem question from people I see afterward.
“How did you do?”
If I sense I can spoof someone unfamiliar with the race, I usually say, in astonished disbelief, “I won!”
I know the dedicated running audience that reads this page will find it hard to believe anyone could fall for that. But I’ve gotten more than a few, “REALLY?” double takes.
Not many people would have batted an eye in past years if I had claimed to finish the 6.2 miles in less than an hour. But with my undisciplined approach to training leading up to the past 20 Peachtrees (that’s me with the cigar), I had about as good a chance at finishing under 60 minutes as I did winning.
This year I’ve got a very good shot at finishing under 60 minutes, although challenging the Kenyans may have to wait until Peachtree 2011. Here are key events that brought me to the point that I should be able to shave 15 minutes off my 75-minute trek last year.
• I nominated myself to post Peachtree memories and training tips for the average runner on this blog. After I was selected I started talking with more serious runners about training – which isn’t a very average-runner thing to do.
• A friend at work persuaded me to publicly set a goal of finishing the race in under an hour. That prompted me to print out a training schedule – the first time in 30 years I established a game plan for the race.
• The same colleague suggested I ditch last year’s old (but still servicey) “75-minute” shoes for a new model. I did that. Readers commenting on earlier posts persuaded me to also splurge on non-cotton socks, a non-cotton running shirt and Body Glide. Not sure if any of that gains me a single second, but spending that money did oblige me to keep up training.
• In early May I increased my routine training run from three to four miles, which caused the onset of HLS (heavy leg syndrome). I hoped there was a pill for HLS, but yet another runner colleague at work suggested I start stretching before runs and eating more pasta during the week. I was cured.
• A marathoner friend offered to set a pace for me over six miles a few weeks ago and we finished in 1:01. I was getting closer.
Participating in this forum spurred me to really prepare for the Peachtree for the first time since my first one in 1979. Even if I don’t win overall, I ought to do pretty well in the Over-50, Reformed Smoker’s Division. That is a new subgroup this year, right?
Next Tuesday: “I won!”