The Final Countdown

The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race; it’s to test the limits of the human heart.
- Bill Bowerman


With apologies to the 80s hair band Europe, we’ve arrived - the final countdown. The gauntlet has been thrown. The opportunity to do work has passed, and the only thing between us and the start line at Lenox Mall is a mere two days.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Before we know it, we’ll be pinning numbers, affixing timing chips and walking towards the start line. The days just prior to races always give me pause. They force me to consider why I choose to race, why I choose this path of being a runner. It’s hard to articulate, so I have boiled it down to feelings instead of reasons. The feelings that running, preparing and then racing give me.

I live for this.   

I live for the feeling in your stomach that comes race morning. The one where excitement and nerves and fear all mix together in one glorious pit of nausea. The visceral reaction, the overwhelming accuity experienced before crossing a start line. The one that equally cripples and inspires you. The feeling that follows you from bed to the car to warm up to gearing up… but that magically disappears at the start line. 

I live for the feeling that courses through your veins in your trek to the finish. The anxiety, the exhaustion, the digging into a well to find more, to push more. The feeling of doubt, then the feeling of overcoming the doubt. The feeling of never thinking the finish line will come, and the feeling of relief in seeing the finish line… of crossing the finish line.

I live for the feeling of slowing to a trot, slowing my heart rate, of walking through the chute. The feeling of quietly accepting that it’s over. The feeling of being equally happy and sad that it is, actually, over.

I think this is what it feels like to be an athlete. And I do live for this.

However my job here is to provide tips and assistance to get you happily across that finish line on Sunday. 

So I will remind you to hydrate and to avoid alcohol and excessive caffeine Saturday. I’ll suggest you pin your race number and timing chip on the night before the race to avoid accidentally forgetting anything or being late race morning. I’ll remind you to get your MARTA tokens or faithful drivers ready ahead of time.

I’ll suggest checking out the race expo at AmericasMart. Race expos are a buzz of excitement, a chance to score some cheap gear, and an opportunity to dive head first into the wonderful world of the running obsessed.

I’ll encourage you to bring an ID, any special health information, and possibly some emergency cash. I’ll suggest you make prior arrangements with friends and family for after the race (You think Atlanta traffic is bad? You haven’t seen gridlock til you’ve experience Piedmont Park and surrounding areas on the morning of July 4th).

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

I’ll remind you to eat lean protein and a small amount of carbs Saturday night before you bed yourself early. I’ll even throw in a suggestion of sticking around to see the awesome band Yacht Rock in the post-race area Sunday morning (because they do in fact, rock).

But my best advice?

Remember to soak it all up. Experience the race, and know the feeling of being an athlete.


 “Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible.”
– Shakespeare, Julius Caesar


***Searching for last minute race details? Fox News Atlanta has extensive info/links up online to help!

10 comments Add your comment

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John McCosh. John McCosh said: RT @ajcprr: The Final Countdown [...]

Gen Neyland

July 2nd, 2010
7:54 am

The night before an event, I can’t sleep soundly. Nerves, somewhat raw and edgy. Never fails, even in the Peachtree. But come ‘The Day’, all is good… Focus on the run, trust that we did the best we could to get to the starting line healthy or just slightly nicked up. If our best effort comes in a few minutes over what we projected, what have we lost..? Nothing. Never saw a runner throw their shoes in a lake disgusted and angry after failing to make a time…The PRR is a celebration of like minds. Our All-Star game. 55,000 of the millions nationally and globally that share our sport. We know what they know. From the Wheelchairs to the seeded ones to Start Wave X, we’ll share common ground on Sunday. We are in tune.

Lauren/John : This forum has been both informative and entertaining. Thank you for keeping it fun, and to the ajc for allowing us runners this online space. If I’m not able to participate on post race blogs, I just want to thank you both again for taking this on. Your work here has been appreciated. Down the road…


July 2nd, 2010
9:35 am

Hope to see you at some point, Lauren! Have a great race!


July 2nd, 2010
9:43 am

About the first part of your post, these two things for me sum it up nicely:


“People can’t understand why a man runs. They don’t see any sport in it. Argue it lacks the sight and thrill of body contact. Yet, the conflict is there, more raw and challenging than any man versus man competition. For in running it is man against himself, the cruelest of opponents. The other runners are not the real enemies. His adversary lies within him, in his ability, with brain and heart to master himself and his emotions.”

Glenn Cunningham – American runner, Olympic Games medalist


July 3rd, 2010
2:03 pm

Totally psyched for tomorrow. Can’t figure out what to eat today, drinking lots of water, trying to rest up but am too excited to sit still for long, what time to go to bed to not sleep, can’t decide what time to get up, where to park for MARTA, the crowds, the heat, the humidity. Yes, it’s another Peachtree Road Race. Good luck everyone! We’re all winners for trying to finish no matter what our time is tomorrow.


July 3rd, 2010
5:02 pm

After racing 16 times and watching the PRR many times the wheelchair racers are the best part of the race. How do they manage to get up those hills –and so fast!!


July 3rd, 2010
7:45 pm

First time runner. Woohoo!!!!!

Jeez Louise

July 3rd, 2010
9:26 pm

AJC, you or whoever has been running a really screwed up race this year already. I don’t want to even bother waking up tomorrow after that fiasco at America’s Mart and now I realize there are no pins in my number envelope.

You’re running this 10K just about as well as you’ve ran your newspaper the past 3 years.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Buffy Hamilton. Buffy Hamilton said: The Final Countdown | AJC Peachtree Road Race Tips: [...]

Gen Neyland

July 5th, 2010
8:12 am

Congrats on your time. What was it like running in clean air..? Publix did a GREAT job with the munchies they provided. Still, toooo many lining up in the wrong Start Waves. Instead of moving back to run with family/friends, some still persist in moving forward. It’ll never end. Thx to the volunteers at the start for catching a few of ‘em. Rules are not always meant to be broken…1:00:32 for me in classic mid-pack form.

Jeez Louise : Lesson #12 : Remember to save your pins and reuse them, especially at the PRR. Hope your day turned out in your favor.