|Medal from my third Atlanta 10-Miler|
The course is new this year (incidentally the three times I've run in this race each time was on a different course), with the Atlanta Track Club marketing this as a race where you can run down Cardiac Hill, not up as in the Peachtree Road Race.
(It turns out that, according to Frank's blog, the old route up Cardiac Hill would have blocked access to Piedmont Hospital. Running down Cardiac Hill would leave this entrance open as runners ran along the opposite side of the road).
I also felt like my slow race in the Army Ten Miler two weeks ago was some kind of fluke because of the humidity, so I looked forward to trying to make a PR on this course.
As I did in 2015, I parked along Peachtree Street, this time right across from the High Museum of Art. Last time I did it was because of the huge backup of cars on the 17th Street bridge over I-75/85 and to be able to return home quickly without being in a big traffic jam.
I ran over the 17th Street bridge to get to the race start, stopping at a short row of porta potties the race put out. It was fortunate that I did because when I got to Atlantic Station the line was huge for the porta potties there.
This was the first time (ever?) that I used the gear check. I felt like it would be good to have some things accessible immediately afterward, including a change of shoes, a T-shirt and towel as well as a few nuun tablets and a container of Muscle Milk.
I had only a few minutes before the race started when I got to my corral, Wave A. It was packed. When the race started it was pretty congested. I wasn't in any hurry and felt like I would pick up my pace as the race went on. Mile 1 was 8:28.
We continued along Peachtree down the second hill that you get after running up Cardiac Hill in the Peachtree Road Race. My pace felt easy and I logged an 8:07. After here you went through the race's Cardiac Hill challenge, to be one of the fastest 100 people to run this 1-mile stretch. There were a lot of people increasing their pace here -- I thought it was fool's gold, considering the monster hills on the back half of the course (I ran down Cardiac Hill in 8:10).
At Mile 3 (8:08), you are on Peachtree Hills and there are two pretty big hills along this stretch. I couldn't remember exactly what this stretch was like so I ran up these carefully. Closer to Lindbergh Drive I recognized this area from some geocaching-related running I'd done in the past. The hills slowed me to 8:32 for Mile 4.
Then we finally got to Piedmont and the site of the I-85 bridge fire. I've run in this section in the past but it's a little tricky to go under the overpass when traffic is busy, especially on the west side where the I-85 ramp is. Mile 5 was 8:04.
After this there is a gradual hill up to Cheshire Bridge Road. I felt pretty good here, since I was close to my own neighborhood. But even on the downhill, lots of people were passing me. There wasn't much I could do. I logged Mile 6 in 9:04 and before this was the CLIF gel station.
I wasn't going to get one (I carried a GU gel for this purpose) but at the last moment I decided to get one and when I reached my arm out, my left calf started to cramp. I was a little surprised at this since I've been running the 10-mile distance recently with no problems.
Then the course goes up the Piedmont Avenue hill near where I proposed to my wife during a run 6 years ago. I ran this carefully, knowing that there would be the killer 12th Street hill outside Piedmont Park. The course cut into the Botanical Gardens and around the oval where Mile 7 was (9:10).
I slowly made my way up the 12th Street hill and then picked up the pace a little bit on Juniper, although I knew that right after you cross 10th Street it is a series of rolling hills for three blocks. But after that, you turn down 6th Street for a downhill section. Mile 8 here was 8:56. About a quarter-mile later I started to get subtle cramps in both my calves that would intermittently happen the rest of the race.
We cut onto West Peachtree and I was surprised for a second. My map that I downloaded before I signed up last month had Spring as the turn. But this is actually better since the part of 6th that goes to Spring is narrow and would bottleneck. Here my GPS watch started to go haywire and gave me ridiculous splits of 7:15 and 6:22 (I extrapolated that maybe I ran these last two miles at an average of 9:13/mile). It also said I ran 10.71 miles, which I know isn't true.
It was good knowing the end was soon. But I wasn't sure if I would run this slower than the Army Ten Miler. I ended up crossing in 1:26:58, about 30 seconds faster than my effort two weeks ago. I'm glad I did the race. It is hilly but I liked the course. I'm not sure it's USATF-certified, as there's nothing listed in the search but ironically they still have listed with USATF the old 2013 Atlanta 10-Miler course that was basically "do the last 10 miles of our marathon course."
So I'm back in a puzzle. It wasn't even 5 months ago that I posted a half marathon PR of 1:39:14. I guess my training has taken a hit, I've been sick and this was pretty hilly. Yet I know that I still have that old cat speed and endurance. It just might take a little more prodding than usual to see better results.
Time: 7:15 a.m.
Temp: 57 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Team BEEF), shorts, cep compression socks, visor (Headsweats nuun), sunglasses (Nike Show X1 Pro), Nike Zoom Fly.