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Okay, I’m just gonna put it out there: if you follow me on Twitter (or if you are my friend/marathon training partner/ear to bend Katie) you know that I was a WHINY BABY about doing the Peachtree this year. It wasn’t the race–it’s a great race and always has been. But I hate running in the summer, I hate arranging childcare for a local 7:30 race that I still have to leave at 5:30 for, I have been nursing a never-ending hip injury and that always, always makes me worried and cranky–especially if I haven’t been running as much because of it. Need endorphins, much, Lindsay? I actually was undecided on whether I would run until about 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

None of that stopped me from enjoying myself greatly at the expo. The Peachtree expo is worth going to even if are not one of the lucky 60,000 runners to score a bib. This was Katie’s first Peachtree and we drove most of the route getting down to the Georgia World Congress Center. Check out this overhead of the expo. It’s huge! See?

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And it attracts lots of great runners and great runners who write about running. Like Bart Yasso! Runner, writer, running ambassador, creator of the grueling speed workout known as Yasso 800’s. Katie and I fairly geeked out over meeting him.

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I had NO CLUE that one of my favorite races, The Monster Dash, was planning an Atlanta race this year. I did their 1/2 marathon in Chicago last year and I loved it. They had a $10 off deal, plus free hats and blinky lights for registering at the expo. I’ll be doing the 10k since it’s two weeks before Ragnar Tennessee. They have the BEST jacket for the 10k and 1/2, but they will be giving out the jackets from Chicago 2011 for Atlanta 2012. Since I didn’t want two of the same jacket, I sweet-talked them into letting me get the brand-new ones for the Minnesota race this year. That makes me an even bigger fan of this race. Here’s what I got to take home–I’ll get the jacket in October.

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The only other notable thing about the race expo is that I finally got a pair of Newtons. I’ve been eyeing them, but since they cost a good deal more than my standby Asics GT2170, I’ve been wary. But Road Runner Sports had a $50 table of ‘once-worn’ shoes and there was a pair in my size, so I went for it. I’ve already run a couple of miles in them and I am… so… happy. But that is a post for a different day.

Okay, so that was Monday and I was still unsure of my race status. But Tuesday came and my hip felt okay and so I finally decided to change my attitude and be happy about the chance to run this amazing, huge race that lots and lots of people don’t even get the chance to do. And to enjoy the kid-free time with my husband, sister, brother-in-law, and friends. So there you go.

I was so excited that I made my hair big. Hey, if you can’t have fast times, you can at least have big hair. Riiiight?

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Dropped the kids at Katie’s and headed to the Brookhaven Marta station. Six of us saw this line:

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…and took a cab to the start line (which was actually the plan to begin with–the line to get cards just confirmed it). Of course Peachtree Road was blocked off a bit north of the start, but still, we walked less than when we’ve taken Marta to Lenox. And it was equal, cost-wise, to taking Marta. WINNING.

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This next picture is important because it basically cost me my goal of finally breaking an hour in the 10k.  As for the 10k goal, I KNOW I can do it, I just don’t have it yet in documentable form. But I was sooooo busy trying to post this pic on FB that I forgot to re-start my Garmin after it had gone into Power Save Mode. AT LEAST I LOOK CUTE.

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So, the Garmin. Right. I got it revved back up a few seconds into the race, but I wasn’t sure how many. I thought about 10 seconds.

The first part of the race was as it usually was. I was in Corral E, using an old time that wasn’t entirely accurate. Based on more recent times, I would’ve fit into D better, but I didn’t think much of it. But really, knowing how huge this race is, I should’ve at least been more assertive about getting to the front of the corral. Whatever, I blame my not being sure about even running the race for my lack of race strategy. We started out and of course it was the usual eyes-to-the-ground so you don’t step on the person in front of you shuffle. That’s always the first mile.

Somehow the weather was smiling on us and it felt… kind of pleasant. Cloud cover, and the humidity had dropped substantially from where it had been–90%–at 5 AM. I mean, it was hot, but it was not quite the steam bath I’d psyched myself up for. I always like running through Buckhead because I remember all the shops along Peachtree that I always want to go to and then never do. Hello, shops I don’t shop at! I felt good, really good. I knew that in order to remain uninjured I was going to have to have *perfect* form for the entire race, as that is where my problems with this hip lie–with an across-the-body arm swing. I ran the most mindful race I’ve ever run because of that. I run the center of the road for the Peachtree–I carry my own hydration so I don’t have to deal with the Wandering Water-Getters. I also don’t like getting wet in the misters, so just to the left of the middle is where I like to be.

First three miles felt good–actually, the whole race felt good. My pace slowed more than I wanted on the last 3 miles–which are pretty much all uphill. There are brief plateaus, but believe me, when you look up the road, you are literally looking UP the road. There’s an elevation gain of about 200 feet over miles 4 and 5–what is called Cardiac Hill. It’s always awful, but the crowd support is just… amazing. Just utterly amazing. There’s not a dull moment in the entire race. My slowest miles, were these, 4 & 5, but I focused on my form and tried not to worry about my time. I knew this sub-60 thing was going to be tight, but it was looking good.

The end of this race ALWAYS sneaks up on me–and by that I mean, HOW HARD the end of this race is, always sneaks up on me. It always feels like the finish should be right there when you turn on 10th, but in reality, it’s about 1/2 mile up the road. First you have to run through the fake-finish photographer bay, and then you just keep going. And going. At this point, I was trucking because this sub-60 was going to be TIGHT. I hit the finish at about 59:45 on my Garmin and let it run to 59:58 to allot for the missed time at at the start. It was not enough. When the chip time came in, it was 1:00:03. You have no idea how much that :04 hurts my heart. Or maybe you do. I’m over it, now, sort of. It’s a hard race. It’s hot. It’s hilly. It’s crowded. But there’s always an excuse, isn’t there? It was not my day to break an hour. The thing that hurts the most is that it wasn’t like I didn’t have that :04 in me. I did! I had another :15 in me, if I’d known I needed it.

BUT.

This was a :10 10k PR for me. And for the Peachtree itself? Last year I fell completely apart with a bum calf and finished in 1:06. In ’09, I ran it as my first 10k, in 1:16 or something like that. And I ran this year MINDFULLY and didn’t hurt myself any more than I already am. Honestly, when I look at those things, what do I have to be upset about? There will be other races, there will be other missed goals, and there are still PR’s in my future. I’m sure of this.

And next year? If I start whining about the Peachtree? Someone slap me. I love this race. I’m ALL IN for 2013.

Here I am, happy with my sister–it’s always a good race when she’s there.

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Me and my husband, who had a PR of his own. (He’s mid-sentence, not mid-bite.)

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With my brother-in-law Clay.

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Later we ate pork. Because nothing says “4th of July” like pig on bread!

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We also caught some fireworks. Not a bad way to celebrate being a citizen of the greatest country on earth. Happy Birthday, ‘Merica!

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