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Crossing the Finish Line

Results of preparing for the Peachtree

I DID IT! I ran the Peachtree Road Race!

For months I’ve reported on preparing to run the race, my first 10K. The training efforts came together for an experience I will never forget.

I’ve reported on the race during my years in local news and the Weather Channel.  This was the first time I’ve ever actually been at the race. My prior connection was always through live or taped visuals.

Monday I made the trek to Lenox Square with my mentor Eric Malone. Eric’s a marathoner so his start time was right at the top.

Leaving early was a good thing. Marta’s trains weren’t very packed. We talked with other people like the woman who had just had a baby and was back to race.

At Lenox, Eric and I had to split up. He headed toward the front of the pack. Me?  I lucked out my previous 5K time put me in the S group. Not the very end but still a walk away from the mall.

Volunteers with tall signs indicated where to line up.  Some 60-thousand people were expected to run. By race time, the phrase in my mind was “OH, the humanity!”

Slowly each lettered group was walked up to the starting line. I was already sweating from the humidity and the crush of people.

By 8:45 they released us. It was like stampeding cattle.

I took off at a steady pace but didn’t want to overdo it too early. Much of the first three miles was downhill so as Eric taught me, take advantage of gravity.

I found myself passing people, then people passing me. I played a mental game of tag. Those who passed me eventually slowed down and I could pass them. 

I cut back to a jog after three miles as the course ran up what’s known as Cardiac Hill. I was starting to struggle. I was soaked head to toe with sweat.

I wore a belt with two water bottles. That helped because I didn’t waste time at water stations along the way though I nearly lost my footing at one.

Water sprays meant to cool runners, soaked pavement where people tossed their cups. My foot hit a cup and started to slide but quickly recovered.

I kept trying to focus on people to pass. I tried ignoring those passing me. It was no time to get discouraged. Eventually I could see Tenth Street. There was still the turn leading toward Piedmont Park.

Passing Piedmont Street I could see the finish line. I got an extra boost when my former co worker WXIA’s Karyn Greer yelled my name.  I crossed the finish line, pounding my foot on the electronic strip reader as if that made my time of 1:28:16 official.

I slowly, gladly joined more than 55-thousand people who earned the Peachtree Road Race shirt. Then came the picture taking, cold drinks, food and the cattle drive around the neighborhood back to Marta.

The day after finds me a little sore but determined to do the Peachtree and other races again.

Anna Varela (Editor) July 05, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Congrats, Hugh! This is a great accomplishment.
RG1 July 05, 2011 at 04:55 PM
I felt as if I were running the race beside you. Great article. Your writing really provides a visual, which is the mark of a great writer... and apparently a great runner! Congrats on finishing the race. I'd be in the hospital right now on oxygen. :)

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