Finish Time: 44:18
Average Pace: 5:57/mile
Final Place: 7 out of 762
On Saturday, February 17, 2018, I ran the inaugural ATC Southside 12K. It was the third event of the Atlanta Track Club's annual Grand Prix - a series of scored events that runners compete in throughout the year. The Southside 12K was pretty hilly and featured a roughly one mile out-and-back followed by a double loop of approximately 3 miles each. Based on the structure of the race, I’ll break my race report up into four sections: (1) Pre-race (2) the out and back; (3) the first loop; and (4) the second loop
If you’ve read any of my prior reports, you known my pre-race routine. I eat oatmeal with almond milk, flaxseeds, and almonds with a plain bagel and a cup of coffee about 3.5 - 4 hours before the race start. After that, I hydrate until two hours before the race when I cut off all fluids. This race was unique because I was also helping set up a tent for “The Race,” a half marathon weekend event that I’m helping put on (check the header at the top of the website). So anyway, that involved me doing a little more work than I’m used to before a race. But it was well worth it. After setting up the tent, I ran about a one mile warm up including a few strides in order to loosen up.
Race Start, (the out and back) - 1.5 miles
I lined up in the third row ready to have a “beautiful race” (adopted language from Eliud Kipchoge). I was unfamiliar with the 12K distance, so I was a little unsure how to pace. My plan was to figure out a 40 minute 10K pace (6:26/mile) and try and run that for 12K. I figured if I could do that, particularly on this hilly course, then I would easily break 40 minutes in the Peachtree Road Race 10K this summer. So with a 6:26 pace in mind, I lined up in the second row ready to see what I could do.
The race started out pretty fast. Like I mentioned in my prior recap, I’ve been focusing on staying with a pack. So I disregarded pace in the beginning and just focused on staying with the group that I took off with. The race started out with an immediate half mile downhill before going through a few rollers throughout the remaining mile of the out-and-back. As I've mentioned previously, out-and-backs provide a great opportunity to see those that are behind you and receive encouragement from the cheers. Lots of people were shouting out my name and encouraging me, which is always an amazing feeling. By the time I completed the out-and-back portion of the race, I was somewhere in the top 20 and beginning to close in on more runners as we started the 100 foot climb of the first loop.
The First Loop - Miles 1.5 through 4.5
Near the beginning of the first loop, I joined the pack that I would end up staying with for the vast majority of the rest of the race. In the picture below, the two guys in the greyish shirts came up on me and addressed me by name... they had heard so many people shout my name on the out-and-back portion that they knew my name and were asking me who I was to see if I was a celebrity or something lol! We ran together for about half a mile before catching up with the two guys in the Atlanta Track Club singlets. These guys were blazing fast guys in their sixties!! Talk about inspiration! This became our pack of five and we would complete the first loop together.
The Second Loop - Miles 4.5 through the finish (7.4 miles)
By the time we started the second loop, one of the ATC guys started to drop off the pack. Then about a mile later, the other ATC guy dropped off. That left the pack down to just three - me and the two guys in gray. These guys were younger than me and seemed to be rolling pretty smoothly. As we once again hit that 100 ft. climb that starts the loop (now for the second time), the taller guy starts to push the pace. He's pushing the pace smack in the middle of the climb! I decided to try to hang with him, so I accelerate also and we are now pushing sub-6 min per mile pace up a 100 foot climb nearly 5 miles into the race. The shorter guy in the gray is starting to fall off but the taller guy is encouraging him on (they were friends and came to the race together). I'm looking at the taller guy realizing that even as he is pushing the pace, he still isn't working that hard. I can tell he's in really good shape... clearly running under capacity to pace the other guy. As we complete the climb we are all three still together as we run into the crowd of runners who are still working on their first loop. It felt like football as we dodged and weaved through the crowds before ultimately deciding to just run on the other side of the road.
After the climb, there's a period of flat before a long descent down Enon Road. As we hit the decline, the two guys I'm running with really floor it! I'm at 5:37 pace during this mile and still steadily losing ground. By the time we reach the bottom of Enon Road and make the final turn before the uphill climb to the finish line, I know I won't be able to catch them. I end up finishing 17 seconds behind them, but still good enough for 7th place overall.
In the end, I completed the 12k (7.4 mile) race in 44:18. That was good enough for not only 7th overall, but also second in my age group and a 5:57/mile overall pace (a surprisingly far cry from my planned 6:26/mile pace).
- Hic Svnt Leones