Shortly after I moved to Atlanta in 2005, I went to a Fourth of July cookout. I met a group of runners who spoke very enthusiastically about the Peachtree Road Race. I was told it was the biggest 10K in the WORLD and that I should run it someday.
They run 6.2 miles? Up hills?! And all the way from Buckhead to Midtown? I clutched my Bud Light even closer (I was 23 and hadn’t discovered good beer yet, sorry) and reached for another hot dog. And they do it in this heat?! I swiftly dismissed that ridiculous suggestion and continued to celebrate my first Georgia Fourth of July with more processed meat and terrible beer.
Fast forward to 2016. I am about to run my fourth Peachtree Road Race after a two-year hiatus—and I couldn’t be more excited about it. My first hiatus in 2014 was due to a copperhead snake bite one week before the race, but that’s another story for another time. My second hiatus in 2015 was because of my first pregnancy. I know many women participate in the Peachtree Road Race, but my big belly was not handling the summer heat very well, so I sat that one out.
I started running about six years ago after signing up for a sprint triathlon on a whim. There were a few rough initial runs where I yelled at my husband because he dared to offer encouraging words going up the big hill next to the Sandy Springs Prado, but I quickly realized that running was better than talking to any therapist. If I go more than a few days without a run, I start to feel anxious and generally just…off. Running is how I think things through and come up with solutions for problems at home and work. It makes me feel strong and confident.
I’ve signed up for numerous races in the past six years, including the 2016 Publix Half Marathon—which I ran just six months after having my little guy. Yes, I know that’s crazy. As soon as I received the “all clear” to exercise from my OB, I started running short and slow distances on the treadmill. All I could think about during my pregnancy was getting back to running, and I actually felt jealously when I saw my husband come through our front door after a run. I missed the endorphins and how good it felt to break a sweat through physical activity (and not just because I was too pregnant to function). Even though I was growing a tiny human—which is a more awesome feat than any distance race—I just wanted to feel the sunshine on my face and the pavement under my feet.
Training for the Peachtree Road Race, and the race itself, has taken on a completely different meaning
post-baby. Before Cameron, I could go for a training run at any time. If I wanted to sleep in, I’d just go after work. Now there are carefully coordinated mornings with my husband before Cameron wakes up. We have assigned gym/running mornings, and if one person misses their morning for whatever reason, that’s it. Occasionally one of us will reschedule time after work, but it requires changing daycare pickup, dinner and bathtime/bedtime plans. Quite frankly, it’s a hassle.
The actual race used to be the excuse that allowed me to spend the day drinking and eating everything on Lake Lanier. Now it’s much more meaningful. Cameron is only eight months old, so he won’t be a Peachtree Road Race spectator this year. I wasn’t the most active kid growing up (I am sure it still shocks some people that I’ve ran three half-marathons), and I want to set a good example for my son. I want to teach him that health and wellness is important and that it can be fun.
More importantly, I want him to see how 60,000 people come together to celebrate our nation—and that number doesn’t even count the thousands of spectators who stand outside in 90-something degree weather. I want him to know that even though our country may seem politically divided at times, we will always readily come together to celebrate a remarkable day in American history.
The people who told me about the Peachtree Road Race 11 years ago were friends of a friend, so I’ll probably never get the chance to tell them that I’m now a dedicated Peachtree runner. But I’d still like to thank them for the heads up (and for not judging me for drinking Bud Light), because they have truly changed how my family spends the Fourth of July.
Are you running the Peachtree Road Race this year? What are your favorite family traditions surrounding this event?