The Hearts & Soles 5k was my first “free” race of the year with the Atlanta Track Club. You may ask yourself how it was free. I am member of the ATC and there are a number of community races that are free for members and $10 for non-members. This race has been on my to do list after I signed up last year and ended up being way too sick to run. Of course the week leading up to this race wasn’t pretty for me with a few rough work from home sick days and an actual sick day once deadlines allowed me to take a day off.
I wasn’t feeling 100% on race morning, but I was feeling better than earlier in the week, so I wanted to give this race my best effort trying for a PR or sub 12 minute mile pace or both. I had heard this course was one of the flattest courses out there and was looking forward to not dealing with a massive number of hills. The Georgia weather has been crazy this winter and with a race time temperature in the upper 40s, I ran this race in a short sleeve t-shirt with arms sleeves as it was a bit chilly walking from car to number pickup. These events are day of number pickup only, but there has never been an issue getting my number and after a porta potty visit, I headed black to my car for pre-race warmth. I timed my trip back to the start so I barely waited with start wave D before we started moving forward.
While waiting to start, someone near me did mention to look at the hill going out as you would have to save some for the way back. This course is straight out and turn back around the same way, so you can plan for the back half of the race. The ATC gets everyone fired up and then we were off. Just as we started, one of the wheelchair teams came back with a runner pushing and we all cheered them on. This course being one lane made it a pretty crowded race considering and I felt terrible that my own walk intervals clogged the course at times, as there wasn’t space to spread out.
The race started with a slow, steady uphill that went into a pretty good downhill (the dreaded uphill on the way back) and while I decided to attempt 45:30 intervals, so instead of running the first minute, I ran through my first two walk intervals totaling two and a half minutes before a walk break. After that and finally seeing that downhill, I was moving at quite a pace before getting to the flatter section. I was hustling and by the time I got to mile 1, it was just past 12 minutes in. I was on pace for getting close to those goals. Despite the flatter conditions, my week was starting to come back and get me as that second mile was rough. I was just excited to get to the turnaround (getting my high five before that) and actually see there were a lot of people pushing themselves behind me. Before mile three, I shouted encouragement to the last few folks out there doing great things for themselves.
By the time I hit mile three, I knew a 12 minute mile pace and a PR were not happening with the hill looming, but I was determined to finish as strong as I could. The hill threw off my intervals as I walked, but I promised myself to make it up by running until the end as the slight downhill was there. I was never so happy to see the turn off the road to the finish line and all the crowd that was cheering everyone on. After I finished, I realized it was my fourth fastest 5k. I’ll take it given my week and it gives me something to work for for next year. Post race, I decided to do the photo booth and show off the awesome shirt my friend Stef got me.
Overall, I had fun with the Atlanta Track Club. If you join now, the next “free” race is the Singleton 5k/10k on April 15.