Well, this was supposed to be a recap of a 5k as the Tailgate 5k was another race in the Atlanta Track Club Grand Prix series. However when I got my participant email the Wednesday before the race, it let us know that there was a sinkhole on part of the 5k course and that the race may be shortened to one mile. By Friday morning, it was confirmed the sinkhole repairs would not be ready for foot traffic, so the event would officially be one mile. Ever since I’ve been a runner, I’ve never run just a mile for time. I was probably in college, when I had a physical education requirement, the last time I ran a mile. I decided to make the best of it and take lemons and make lemonade.
On Saturday morning, I got there super early because the race was being held near the Chastain Park Amphitheater and it’s known for limited parking and traffic, especially during the Women’s 5k. It turns out that turnout was lower, so parking was a non-issue. I walked a good distance around the amphitheater to bib pickup and saw the finish line and noted it ended on a slight downhill. After getting my bib, I took a photo with the Florida Gators flag and hit the porta potties before heading back to the car. The advantage of my parking spot was being super close to the start line, so once I saw the corral lineup, I headed over merging into the 10 minute mile crowd. We started near the bottom of the super steep hill on Elliott Galloway, so it was a great opportunity to view about 500 runners taking lemons and making lemonade.
I was a lot nervous as I’d never broken the 12 minute mile pace in a 5k at this point, but I knew I could at least hang with 10 minute mile paces at the start and do it in my intervals as I looked at this as speedwork where I’d run as hard as I could for my run intervals. After the 6 and 8 mile groups went, it was go time. I knew the first part of the course was a generous downhill and by the time I turned onto West Wieuca and finished my first interval, I was at .18 miles. That was super fast for me. Thankfully I was able to stop to walk near parked cars and merge back in after the crush of runners passed. The half mile stretch on Wieuca wasn’t terrible, but I knew there was an uphill to get to the finish on Chastain Memorial. That uphill happened at the turn onto Dudley Lane and continued onto Chastain Memorial. The volunteer near the top of that hill was awesome telling us it was the last hill and we were almost there. Some runners complained when we hit a very small hill after this, but in the world of Atlanta hills, it was nothing. I feel like I took the big hill well with intervals and once I topped it, I was trying to determine when my sprint to the finish would start. After the last baby hill, I could hear announcements at the finish line and it was go time. I finished strong, passing a few people near the finish that seemed way ahead of me when I started my sprint.
Official time was 10:53. I was just wanting to beat 12 minutes and I did that easily. I went and collected water and a banana which volunteers knew would be plentiful and were encouraging everyone to take extras of. I’m hoping some homeless people benefited from this, too. While I was looking forward to a 5k, I was happy to do something a little different and challenge myself to a bit of speed versus endurance. Have you ever had a race change because of circumstances outside of the control of the race directors? How did you handle it?