In It to Win It (Or at Least Beat 60 Minutes)

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!”

21 comments Add your comment

Gen Neyland

July 1st, 2010
7:22 am

All the hard work you’ve put in to accomplish your goal will reap benefits galore. The sea of people starting ahead of you will part then watch you speed by (Thx to the BodyGlide). The Kenyans will be dropping rose petals in their wake in anticipation of your overtaking them. The Fox5 ‘High Five’ Sports Team will be singing your praises all morning and a special place will be set at the Awards Stand for you, the Guest of Honor, the first to ever start in Group X and really WIN the PRR…All the local politicians will clamor for your time and photo ops to boot. Sports apparel manufacturers will seek your endorsements, Amby Burfoot will resign his post and you’ll take his place at Runner’s World…Sure, you’ll fall out of favor with John Bingham but that’s a small price to pay for success…Then, you’ll awake…Seriously, Good luck.

Lauren Dieterich

July 1st, 2010
9:29 am

Good luck John… I’m excited for you and your goal! Half the fun of racing is watching others and seeing them succeed. I’ve been telling people I win the PRR for years. I guess I’ve been lying this whole time since you are the clear winner!

John McCosh

July 1st, 2010
10:05 am

Thanks Lauren and Gen Neyland. I won’t let you down! (Unless I do).


July 1st, 2010
10:19 am

You are already a winner in my book! :-D Great job! I too am struggling to finish in under an hour (I would even be happy with 59:59 ha!) but it may be one more year for me with this heat this year. My 1st year was 1:10 and last year was 1:06. Close but no “cigar” yet ha! You are doing yourself a great justice by working out and eating better so again, you did WIN!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by April Andrews, ajcprr. ajcprr said: In It to Win It (Or at Least Beat 60 Minutes) [...]

Gen Neyland

July 1st, 2010
4:03 pm

What I really gotta knkow is will you or Lauren do a Sunday afternoon blog so we can share our, ahem, moral victory stories..? The wife and I are jetting out monday morning so if this week ends it all within this forum, thank you for your work and the ajc for allowing it…

John McCosh

July 1st, 2010
4:51 pm

Gen, I hadn’t planned on posting before next Tuesday. I’m sure there will be a lot of staff generated content going up on Sunday after the race.


July 1st, 2010
7:01 pm

What is my goal? To hot, sold my number for beer money. Feeling pretty good about that. Have fun.


July 1st, 2010
7:23 pm

i am excited about the upcoming race. i am wanting to finish in 75 minutes or less this year. that would shave 15 minutes off of my time last year.:) it was my first race last year. i know that i’m good for at least 10 minutes less. i am hoping to get in the 60 minute club by next year. let’s go! woohoo!!:)


July 2nd, 2010
10:00 am

Luv it! Hahaha and hope to see you out there. You will definitely make sub 60!!

Mid Life r'

July 2nd, 2010
10:25 am

Under one hour for me or I will be back next year. What a goal to stop this mid life crisis of mine!


July 2nd, 2010
1:33 pm

Last year I had beginners luck and FINISHED!
( I too am in the over 50 reformed smoker club )

This year – just wanted to beat my time from last year and am scared!!
Wish I had made a plan!! ( and stuck to it!)


July 2nd, 2010
7:26 pm

I’m in the over-50 ex smoker, slightly overweight, never really worked out category. My goal is to not die on the course, but to finish in whatever time it takes.

Facebook Rik

July 2nd, 2010
7:35 pm

My goal is to run the first 5K and run/walk the rest. It’s my first one and at 330lbs I am hoping to not die. Oh, and it’s my 40th birthday.


July 2nd, 2010
10:32 pm

My goal is to sit around and drink alcohol.


July 4th, 2010
1:00 pm

was hoping for my own category – 58yrs olds who smoked for 40 yrs (quit 2 mos ago). just finished my first Peachtree in 1:19 or so and didn’t die!


July 4th, 2010
2:13 pm

Finished in just over 57 min this year – my goal was to break the one-hour mark too… and do even better as a 50-year-old next year!


July 4th, 2010
9:00 pm

Sure wish my d-tag would have worked… UGH!!!!!!!!!! Any suggestions on someone that can help find my results?

Gen Neyland

July 5th, 2010
7:55 am

Well, well. Mr. McCosh did it. Congrats. Gotta ask : Coming down 10th St, were there any doubts..?

John McCosh

July 5th, 2010
8:31 am

Plenty of doubts coming down 10th, Gen Neyland. I knew it would be close and tried to shadow faster runners picking holes through the crowd. I’m a little unsure if I “did it” since I was supposed to finish under an hour. But I’ll hash that one out tomorrow. I hope you had a great time yesterday morning and I appreciate your comments and good wishes.

[...] the rest of the field to the finish line of the 2010 AJC Peachtree Road Race. Even though I made a brash challenge to Gebre and the other elites last week, all I really hoped to do was to run the course in less [...]