Wes Mayer

This year's Peachtree was a breeze ... if you count the weather

by Wes Mayer wesley@newnan.com

This year easily had the best weather possible for the Peachtree Road Race.

It was not hot at all. It wasn't even humid. With the sun behind the clouds and with a slight breeze blowing, it was perfect.

That being said, this was a tough year for me. I always say this - and I've run this race at least five times now - but I could have trained a little more. Heartbreak Hill (between miles 2-3) got to me this time, and my legs were screaming, 'Hey Wes, you can stop running now,' for the last half of the race.

Last year, I finished in under an hour, so that was my goal again this year. I'm not sure if I made it, though.

Well, let's start at the beginning. I recently moved to Atlanta off Roxboro Road, so I just walked to the start line this year, which was awesome. Riding in Marta pressed up against a hundred other people, most of whom have not showered, is not.

I still didn't get there in time for my wave (E – for 'Excellent,' or 'Eh, I could have trained more') to start, of course, but it didn't really matter. I just started 10 minutes later in Wave G. Your time is calculated by the magnetic strips on your bib number when you cross both the start and finish lines, so being in a different wave doesn't affect your time. You just have to navigate your way around more slow people.

What is relevant, however, is when I stabbed myself underneath my fingernail with a stupid safety pin. I don't think I've ever used a safety pin without somehow injuring myself in the process, and this hurt like hell. But that's the only way you can get your bib number to stick to your shirt, so I suffered through it bravely.

And, once again, before I could even start the race, I'd already lost. Those guys run way too fast.

As for starting the race, Mile 1 felt really good. There's always a ton of people at the beginning you have to break through and elbow out of the way if you want to actually run the race. But around the 1-mile mark, it thins out and you can start moving around.

Mile 2 still felt good because it's all downhill (which is just cruel) and the weather was nice and I was people watching and just coasting along. But then, before you know it, the dreaded hill approaches.

Mile 3 was awful. Heartbreak Hill is the worst thing ever. After two miles of running downhill and thinking you're doing good, the road just climbs uphill for around 50,000 feet as you're running by Piedmont Hospital. It's an aptly named challenge. And then, after you're finished climbing the hill, there's another hill. Then another one. And then you start regretting all your decisions in life.

Mile 4 was pretty bad. I'm not going to lie, even going back downhill. But I was able to keep jogging, sort of. My legs started arguing with me at that point. 'Hey Wes, we're hurting for a reason. Hey bud, stop. Hey, remember that one time you laid down on a couch? Can we go back to doing that?'

But, I persevered. You can't stop running, or else it is incredibly hard to start back up again.

Mile 5 makes you want to stop running. Just when you think you are finished running uphill, for the next mile you just keep going up and up … and up. And then up some more. It's where you really have to push yourself, and pouring water on your head can only help so much. Instead, it takes willpower. It's why Mile 6 is the best feeling ever. Once you climb that last hill and you make a left onto 10th Street, it's all downhill to the finish line. This is where I always summon any last bit of energy and run as fast as I can, passing hundreds of thousands of people, and finish the race with my head held high. It was especially cool this year because the sun hid for most of the race, but right when I turned the corner to the finish line, the sun was there shining on my face. You know, being all glorious and stuff.

I crossed the finish line, got my T-shirt – it's a really cool design this year with a peach designed out of a map of the race – and my goodie bag and started loading it up with free food (and free, cheap flip-flops).

I have to say, there are not many better feelings than finishing a race, especially when you push yourself into running the whole thing. And after the Peachtree, there is nothing better to eat than a fresh, juicy, tart peach. There's not much worse than trying to choke a plain bagel down. But hey, it's free, so you have to grab one.

After the race, I had to walk back up the 12-mile hill to the nearest MARTA station, but that's just part of the experience.

Now, I can relax for the rest of my July Fourth. But either my adductor longus (longi?) or my pectineus (pectini?) muscles are killing me right now – not sure which. I'm not an anatomy expert. I just Googled leg muscles, and there are a lot of them. Let's just say ... groin. And I probably could have stretched it better.

(Editor's Note: Mayer is a staff writer for the Times-Herald. Wes made his goal, if you count his net time. His clock time, unofficially, was 1:28.5, but his net time was 57.3.)

Note: A list of local Peachtree Road Race finishers will appear in Sunday's Newnan Times-Herald sports section



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