Last Friday Night I did not go streaking in the park or skinny dipping in the park as Katy Perry may have been. Instead you could have found me in a Minivan mid-road tripping to Atlanta for the 4th of July weekend! Six of us from Team That’s What She Said entered the lottery for the Peachtree 10K this past spring. When we were accepted, and we realized that the Orioles would be in Atlanta that weekend, we knew we had to make the trip. So Friday we piled into the minivan and made it….not that far due to traffic, haha. We did get to Blacksburg, VA for a night of sleep and some of the crew went for a run the next morning. Then on Saturday we strapped ourselves back in for the remaining 7 hours to Atlanta. After a quick turnaround we ended up at Turner Field and watched our O’s play a game before going out for a little bit. Overall I liked the area of Atlanta we were staying in a lot – Buckhead was really cool, laid back, and had a nice mix of upscale places as well as dive bars and casual options.
On Sunday we made a quick stop at the expo before going to the COKE FACTORY! Anyone who knows Ryan knows he’s a huge fan of Coke, so it was really cool to get to do this with him. The tour was super fun and involved tasting a lot of soda. My favorite was the Banana one from Mexico! I know that sounds gross, but if you like Banana Now-And-Laters you would love it too. But nothing still quite compares to an American Coca-Cola.
Sunday also meant a hotel pool swim – 3800 in a 20 yard pool makes one…..dizzy. And hot! I was lucky enough to dupe Ryan into doing it with me, and neither of us were super pumped. But, we got it done and between that, a shakeout run, and a few miles of walking for sight-seeing, I had been on my feet more than long enough before a race.
Monday morning was 4th of July which meant race day. I was in corral A and the others in the group were in the seeded corrals in front of me, but we all started at 7:30. The pre-race national anthem and flyover was pretty cool. The race is flat/downhill for the first 3 miles or so. I was keeping a 6:40 pace and didn’t feel great, but didn’t feel bad. Then I hit the Hills. Ouch. The hills and the humidty were in full force for the second half of the race. But the bright side is that even though I felt like I was going slow, I had really only dropped to 7:30s….which for me, is a pretty great “survival” pace.
I crossed the line in 44:18, a new PR (my last 10K was when I was like 16!) and found my friends. I ate a bite of a peach for the first time in my life. I did not like it. I pounded some coke and an ice cream sandwich, then it was time to hit the road….and run back to the start. Luckily, Ryan’s internal GPS found us a slightly shorter route, but it still felt like it took forever. Shower, lunch at the Varsity (pretty gross), and then it was back in the minivan for the trek home. We made it to Raleigh aka Ghosttown Central for the 4th of July, and finished up the drive on Tuesday. Overall it was a good trip and the race was a great way to get my speed work in for the week. I still think I have a ton of work that can be done in terms of my potential with running, but I’m really happy with how it’s progressing given that I also have 2 other sports to focus on these days.
The rest of the week was business as usual and then suddenly I was waking up on Saturday getting ready to go to another race. This time I was doing Diamond in the Rough Triathlon in Perryville, MD. It’s a smaller race but generally gets a handful of fast people to keep the competition interesting in the front. Super fan Carly was coming along to spectate and was going to get her run in while I raced.
My wave started as the third and final one with all of the women chasing the dudes in the first 2 waves. That meant a decent size of about 85 women in the water. I had my new speedsuit ready to rock so my plan was to swim hard for the entire mile. It worked! We swam in a diamond shape, and on the final turn looking into the sun I actually had no clue where I was swimming so I was following bodies and just hoping for the best. But as I was pulled onto the steps out of the waters a race official signaled to me that I was the 10th woman out of the water. Sweet! Considering I usually hope for a top 20 swim I was excited. Carly was ready to give a cheer as I headed out on the bike and out I went into the hils of Northern Maryland. I had read/been told that this course was technical, but I didn’t really believe it until I was out there. A lot of hills, a lot of turns, a lot of fast descents into turns, and a road that was open to traffic and definitely not swept before we went out there. A technical, hard course actually suits me well so I was happy as I plugged along.
There was one scary section on the bike. I had just passed a dude and about a quarter mile later I saw, washed out on the road but there nonetheless, words reading “no pass zone, slow down.” So…I did. The dude however was more concerned with passing me back than slowing down, and I watched as he slid on the gravel ahead as he tried to make the sharp left, eventually skidding right off the side of the road and rolled over into a ditch. He wasn’t the only one either – 2 other men were cut up and off their bikes in the brush as well. I managed to stay upright, check that they were all ok, and get down the descent. At the bottom was another sharp turn and a race official, so I slowed here to tell him that there were 3 dudes off their bikes and didn’t look to be getting back onto them. I finished the ride up strong and was told I was the 3rd woman coming in off the bike! Did my best to get a quick T2 and head out to the run. Fast and generally flat, half shaded, the run can make for some fast times. I felt good and just focused on keeping cool when I could and maintaining my pace. I was able to see the 2 girls ahead of me since it was an out-and-back and that left little room for me to hope to catch them. But that meant I also saw the women behind me, about 2 minutes back at the turnaround and looking like she was on a mission. She also had a little pack of dudes running strong with her, whereas my little pack of dudes was walking and complaining, haha. They were all super positive for me and pushing me to get it done, but someone to run with would have been cool! Luckily I didn’t need it anyway, and I crossed the line in 3rd at 2:22:46.