I’ve been a member of the Atlanta Track Club for the past three years or so. I will admit, the only real perk I have seen/used has been the guaranteed entry to the Peachtree Road Race (if you aren’t a member, you can enter a lottery).
After attending the ATC Member Social earlier this year, I figured no better time than the present to get more involved and take advantage of my membership and meet more local runners. One of the perks of membership is free entry to some of the ATC races.
The Spring Tune Up this past weekend was one of those. I have the luxury of not following a super serious training plan at the moment (yes, it’s thought out but I’m flexible) and I moved my long run to the middle of the week and decided to put the 8K in the middle of my tempo run.
The Spring Tune Up also has a 15K option, but I only had time for the 8K that morning. I’m on the board for my condo association and we were holding our annual meeting with all of the owners. 7:30 race start, a race 5 minutes from my house, and a 9:00am meeting…perfect opportunity for a little speed work.
Abby and I headed to the race around 6:45 to park, get our bibs and give me enough time to do my first mile (8:52).
I finished my first mile with about 5 minutes to spare and ran back into Abby at the start line. She was running the 15K and her friend Wes was running the 8K. Wes is a pretty bad ass runner and offered to stick with me since he hadn’t been running the past few weeks. I told him my goals per McMillan (tempo run at 7:41-7:58) and he was okay with it.
We started in the first wave of runners and I felt great. Probably a little too great because Wes called me out for being able to talk so easily on my tempo run. The first two miles were pretty solid. No major hills, a few rolling ones and I felt GOOD. I was actually running a bit faster than I should’ve been, but it worked out based on what was next (7:35, 7:29).
I knew there was one monster hill and I thought I was prepared for it. That’s almost funny to type. I literally wanted to die. Ever heard someone with asthma run uphill as hard and fast as they can? It isn’t pretty. Wes was my sherpa. I’m not kidding. He literally coached me through it, talked me up each cone and told me to not look at my garmin and trust that he would get me to my goal (8:01).
Yall know I’m a type-A, garmin stalking, control freak. This don’t-look-at-your-garmin thing was hard for me…but I did my best to not look. Yes, I totally got called out three or four more times but Wes told me when I could slow it down a bit, when to pick it up, and when to expect another hill (he ran it last year) (7:44).
Towards the end, he asked if I was okay and I grunted. It was all I really had left. We split from the 15K and it was one turn to the finish line and we were done (7:35).
BOOM. I had an overall average at the lower end pace of my tempo run on a hilly course (averaged 7:45). Yes, see hills below.
We ran an easy mile to recover and to finish out my tempo run and went back to the finish line to check it out (9:14).
I was completely shocked to find Muscle Milk and snack boxes post race (for a FREE to me race) for everyone who ran. The snack box had fruit snacks, fruit pouch, corn chips, fig bar, chocolate, a wet wipe and a few other things. Pretty sweet.
I realized it was 8:30 and I had to haul it home for the meeting. Wes offered to stay and see if I placed and wait on Abby and a friend of his to finish.
I was very excited to find out I won 3rd in my age group and had an instant PR since it was my first 8K!! Not bad for a tempo run day. And, I am working on convincing Wes to be my sherpa at least once a week…I think it helps to train with people faster than you!
For the $35 it costs to be an ATC member, I think I already got my moneys worth. There are several other free races this year and discounts on the other ones they sponsor. I look forward to volunteering with some of the kids runs and doing a few more races this year.
Does your town have a local run club that you can join? Are you active? Do you ever use a race as part of your training or just pick a few major races a year? Do you train with people faster than you to try to improve?