The race starts and finishes at Atlantic Station and the course takes you on a mini tour of Atlanta. Runners are placed into 6 different corrals based on estimated pace (corrals A-E are for the 10 Miler and corral F is for the 5K). In order to help space out several thousand runners, corrals are sent off every two minutes or so.
One of the highlights of this race each year is the Cardiac Hill Challenge. Positioned at around mile 2 of the race course, Mizuno sponsors a challenge to see who the King & Queen of Cardiac Hill are as well as the 100 fastest runners are in this 1-mile stretch. In the past, the challenge clocks your time over the course of a mile as you conqueror about a 12 story elevation gain over a mile on Peachtree Road (also known as Cardiac Hill). With the course change this year, we get to run DOWN Cardiac Hill. After running 9 Peachtree Road Races and 4 Atlanta 10 Milers, I was crazy excited to get to run down Cardiac Hill for the first time ever!
Don't let that downhill portion fool you though, this is Atlanta and you will soon be going up, up, up. By looking at the new race course map, I knew that the front half of the course would be a lot more forgiving that the second half, so I came up with my strategy and focussed on pacing myself appropriately to hit my goal for the day.
If there is one thing that can help you power through 10 miles of hills, it is awesome course support. Well, this race seriously has some of the BEST course support that I experience. Thanks to school groups, Back on My Feet, Girls on the Run, and even roller derby girls there were plenty of cheers to be had. Whether you were passing out water, holding signs, ringing cowbells, giving free high-fives, or just simply cheering loudly - THANK YOU!
I was just about spot on my pace as I came into the final stretch! There was one final hill to go up just as you passed the mile 9 marker, but after that you were home free with a mostly flat and gentle incline for the final mile. I knew that my PR was very likely today, but it would be close for me to reach my "A-goal" that I have been chasing for a few years. I dug deep in that final mile and gave it everything I had left in me.
As I rounded the last turn, I saw my friends screaming for me and I just bursted into happy tears. I hadn't looked at my watch since about mile 9.5 but I knew based on feel I knew that I was about to get my PR.
With setting a new 10 Miler PR by over 3 minutes, I can definitely say that I am excited to see where my fall races will take me. I was using this race as a measuring tool for where I am at before diving deep into a fall and winter full of half marathons.
Atlanta Track Club hosts some of the absolute best races in the Atlanta area, so if you are in need of a great way to start your Thanksgiving, be sure to check out the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon & 5K. I hope to see you there!