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AJC Peachtree Road Race: By the numbers

peaches

Am I the only one who can’t believe it’s almost July 4 already? It snuck up on me this year. The next few days are about one or two more good runs, stretching, eating right and sleeping well. And then lacing up those shoes Monday morning and soaking it all in.

Here are some fun facts to ponder as we head into the final stretch from the Atlanta Track Club’s Tumblr:

  • The first Peachtree was in 1970, with 150 runners (though only 110 would finish). There were no T-shirts, no water stops, no food and no post-race entertainment. The entry fee was $2.
  • 26 percent of participants in the 2011 AJC Peachtree Road Race will be running it for the first time ever.
  • The coolest starting temperature on race day was 62 degrees in 1986 and 1989. The warmest was 80 degrees in 1970, ’73, ’77, ‘80, ’83 and ’91.
  • Participants in the 2011 event will represent 48 states and the District of Columbia.  The only two states not represented are South Dakota and …

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Running with a mission

ribbonsA couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about finding inspiration on the sidelines of a running route. If inspirational signs aren’t your thing, keep an eye out for the display in front of the Peachtree Road Methodist United Church, about a mile into the course on the right.

The “Prayers for Peace” display features yellow, blue and green ribbons and memorial dog tags listing the names of each of the more than 6,400 American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans who are members of the church’s congregation hung the ribbons this past weekend, and the display will be dedicated on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. You can read more about the display here.

The ribbons have special meaning when you consider the servicemen and women who run their own versions of the PRR while they’re stationed overseas. Even looking at photos of last year’s runs in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan is pretty inspiring. In fact, if you know — or you are — a soldier running the race in another …

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What do you eat before you run?

Bananas -- the perfect pre-race food, methinks.

Bananas — the perfect pre-race food, methinks.

My co-blogger Matt recently posted about what he likes to eat after a run (for the record, I think sweet potato pancakes from Ria’s Bluebird wipe the court with anything offered up by Waffle House, but that’s neither here nor there).

Honestly, give me a beer and a bagel after any race and I’m happy until I can get something more substantial in my food hole. What stresses me out is what to eat before a race, both the night before and the morning of. Most people swear by a meal almost entirely made up of carbs, which makes sense, but I’m always a little afraid of overdoing it, Michael Scott-style. Depending on the length of the run, I usually eat a small bowl of pasta or a tuna sandwich, and I try not to eat after 8 p.m. (mostly because I usually try not to go to sleep any later than 10 p.m. the night night before a run). And I obviously try to hydrate as much as possible.

I made the mistake of agreeing to go out for Indian food …

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Catching a wave

numbersIf you’re signed up for the PRR, you should be getting your confirmation number in the mail this week (or, if you’re a little cheap like me, via e-mail, necessitating you having to do battle with the crowds at the expo the weekend before the race).

As part of the confirmation number, you also get your corral letter, which lets you know what time you start (check out the list of wave starts times here). In a bid to get a decent start time, I submitted my finish time from the Chattahoochee Challenge 10k — a Peachtree qualifier — when I signed up for the race. My finish time of 1:00:33 was by no means Olympic-caliber, but I though it’d at least bump me into the top 50 percent of start times.

So I was slightly disappointed when I saw my letter: N. It’s the 13th wave, starting at 8:27 a.m. It’s not horrible, but it’s further back than I’d like, and is a different wave from several friends I wanted to run with (at least for a bit). I thought about sneaking up a couple of spots to an …

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Know your wave: Peachtree Road Race start times

Peachtree Road Race number confirmations are being sent out this week, and it’s important to check your corral letter, which lets you know your start time:

Corral A: 7:30 a.m.

Corral B: 7:35 a.m.

Corral C: 7:41 a.m.

Corral D: 7:45 a.m.

Corral E: 7:50 a.m.

Corral F: 7:55 a.m.

Corral G: 8 a.m.

Corral H: 8:05 a.m.

Corral J: 8:09:30 a.m.

Corral K: 8:14 a.m.

Corral L: 8:18:30 a.m.

Corral M: 8:23 a.m.

Corral N: 8:27:30 a.m.

Corral P: 8:33 a.m.

Corral R: 8:37:30 a.m.

Corral S: 8:42 a.m.

Corral T: 8:46:30 a.m.

Corral U: 8:51 a.m.

Corral W: 8:55:30 a.m.

Corral X: 9 a.m.

Corral Y: 9:05 a.m.

Wave times are decided by your 2009 or 2010 PRR finish time or a chip time from a PRR qualifying race (Chattahoochee Challenge 5k or 10k, Your Pace or Mine 5k and Publix Half- and Full-Marathon are a few).

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Looking for a sign

signs

A well-placed sign during a race can make all the difference in the world.

I hit a wall during my first big race at about Mile 18. I could feel myself start to flag, dreading the next eight miles, gritting my teeth and saying a little prayer to the running gods.

And then, up ahead, I spotted what I first thought was a mirage — my friend Erick standing on the side of the race course, holding a sign that said, simply, “Run, Zusel, Run.” Normally, I would have chided him for being cheesy, but in that moment, that sign was my salvation. I’m not going to pretend that all of a sudden I felt like I was flying and the pain left my legs, but seeing him there gave me the little extra push I needed at that exact moment. My gratitude can’t be overstated.

It’s often said that running is mostly mental, and I think my sudden burst of energy during that race speaks to that. There’s something amazing about seeing someone you love — heck, even a stranger — on the sidelines, holding a sign …

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What to wear, what to wear

Like a lot of women, it takes me awhile to decide what to wear before I leave the house. I’m not one of those people who plan out their outfits ahead of time — in fact, true to my procrastinating nature — there’s not a whole lot I do ahead of time.

But for race days, I can’t afford the luxury of putting off deciding what to wear until the morning of the run (unless I want to have a mini-nervous breakdown before I even approach the starting line). There are too many other things to think about the morning of a race — making sure you hydrate, putting your number on, talking yourself out of going back to bed and pulling the sheets over your head — to worry about what you’re going to wear.

Of course, you can’t plan perfectly — meteorologists do their darndest, but they always seem to be off by a little bit. The forecast could call for clear skies and 90 degrees, and you could wake up to rain and 60. At the very least, though, you can pick out a shirt (Dri-Fit is always a safe …

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Not quite Queen of the hill

Being a Peachtree Road Race newbie, I try to listen closely when vets talk about past races. So far, I’ve picked up on two overriding themes — prepare for humidity and prepare for hills.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot I can do about the humidity. I’ve already resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to look like a sweaty Sideshow Bob that morning. The hills, though — in theory, I can prepare for those. In theory.

If it’s possible to have an arch nemesis that isn’t a person, mine would be hills. I think they exist to be my own special brand of torture. When I’ve trained for long races in the past, I make sure to incorporate hill training into my routine, thinking it’ll make it easier to conquer those evil bumps come race time.

But really, the problem isn’t that I can’t physically run at an incline  — it’s that I mentally put a block up when I see an incline in the distance. It usually takes a good mile into a race before I feel like I have my sea legs, and when I …

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Undercover running

Fish swim upstream at the Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco.

Fish swim upstream at the Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco.

This past weekend was the 100th running of San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers, a 7.46-mile race famous for its participants’ a) lack of clothing or b) ridiculous costumes.

Photos from the run conveniently leave out the nudie pics, but show a nice selection of Elvises, gnomes, ballerinas and those paying homage to the royal wedding. And what race would be complete without a shirtless man wearing glitter and giant angel wings?

The Peachtree Road Race discourages runners from wearing Breakers-style costumes — which makes sense, considering how many people there are. I’d imagine it’s hard enough not to knock into people without having to dodge, say, giant wings or gnome hats.

But that doesn’t stop some from getting into the spirit. Body paint, crazy hats and color-coordinated costumes — especially of the patriotic variety — all make appearances. I’ve personally never worn a costume for a run, but one of my favorite …

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The perfect park

No Piedmont Dog Park for me until my run is over. Cuteness = too distracting.

No Piedmont Dog Park for me until my run is over. Cuteness = too distracting.

Since I moved to Atlanta in September, I’ve been a bit lazy about exploring. Mostly because I’m navigationally challenged, so I figure even if I get lost, as long as I stick close to home eventually I’ll wander onto my street.

I live in Grant Park, so, as you might guess, I tend to run in Grant Park. It’s a nice combination of incline and flat road, with enough variation in scenery that it keeps boredom at bay but not so large that you it swallows you up. But when I was almost taken out by a gaggle of overexcited third-graders standing outside Zoo Atlanta a couple of weeks ago, I figured it might be time to branch out a little bit.

Sad that it took a bunch of 10-year-olds to change my running world. In the past two weeks, I’ve done two runs each in Freedom Park and at Piedmont Park, and I’m mad at myself for not having expanded my running horizons sooner.* Both offer a great change of scenery …

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