Home / Journey to the Peachtree
Journey to the Peachtree
By Caleb Tysor
Starr's Mill Class of 2015
February 27. Track season at Starr’s Mill has recently begun and it is only a week until the first meet. Little did I know that the events that were about to unfold would lead directly up to my first entry into the Peachtree Road Race. While running at track practice I begin to feel a sharp pain in my right foot. Two days and three doctors’ appointments later I find out that it is a fracture that will put me on crutches and sideline me for the rest of the track season and maybe longer.
March 13. I am finally able to get off of crutches. However, I still have to wear a boot and I cannot walk too much at one time or on steep hills. Doing so, may result in me re-injuring my foot, which must be avoided at all costs.
March 27. I can start wearing a shoe on my right foot for the first time in two months. I have taken major steps since first injuring my foot, but I still am not completely healed as I cannot yet run.
May 3. It is the first time that I can run since my injury. I have to start off running at a really slow pace and very short distances. Today I can only run 400 meters which is one lap around the track. I have a running schedule mapped out, however, that will get me up to full strength right before the start of the Peachtree. Barring another setback, I am hoping to be in peak condition for the 10K run.
June 25. Today is the first time that I run a practice at 100%. The practice starts with a 1.5 mile warm up and ends with the same cool down. The actual practice is seven 400 meter runs at a swift pace. Although I feel tired at the end of practice, I am excited because I now know that I can survive the Peachtree Road Race.
July 3, 4:00 P.M. I have arrived in Atlanta with my dad and brother, who are also running the race, and my mom who is there to spectate and cheer us on. We are currently driving through the course to see what we will be running tomorrow.
July 3, 5:30 P.M. My family and I head to the GWCC to pick up our numbers. Afterwards we walk through the Peachtree Health and Fitness Expo where we get to meet Jeff Galloway, who participated in the 1972 Olympics and won the first Peachtree Road Race.
July 4, 6:00 a.m. The alarm clock in our hotel blares. It is time to get up, and immediately start preparing for the race.
July 4, 6:45 a.m. The wheel-chair division of the race begins and we watch them out of our hotel window before heading down to the start of our race. Our race is divided into sections with the seeded runners being the fastest, then sub-seeded, and finally letters A thru Y. Seeded and sub-seeded runners, as well as runners in group A all start at 7:30. Then group B starts at 7:35, and each letter follows in turn about five minutes after the one before it.
July 4, 7:25 a.m. I am running in group A, which means I start in five minutes. I was forced through a detour so I just make it to my starting group in time. I only have enough time to do three strides to slightly loosen up my legs before the start of the race.
July 4, 7:30 a.m. “And they’re off” yells the starter, as a gigantic mob starts running frantically. In the front, the leaders take off at a near sprint, but not everyone is at top speed just yet. It takes me thirty seconds just to cross the starting line, and the last groups are over an hour and a half from starting.
July 4, 7:40 a.m. The race has just begun. The first mile marker came and went a few minutes ago. Bands are playing and bystanders are cheering on the immense stampede that is the 43rd annual Peachtree Road Race. Still feeling great at this point, I feed off the energy of the crowd to propel myself forward to even faster speeds.
July 4, 7:55 a.m. I am now halfway finished with the race. But with the triumph of completing this much of the course, comes the anxiety of attempting to conquer the dreaded Cardiac Hill. This hill is not incredibly steep, but is three quarters of a mile long, and proposes a tough challenge to anyone, especially after already running three miles.
July 4, 8:05 a.m. I have now summited Cardiac Hill, which is a huge confidence booster, although it has left me extremely tired. The runners have also dispersed somewhat, and it has become a lot easier to set my own pace instead of following the crowd’s every movement.
July 4, 8:20 a.m. Rounding the final corner and knowing that the race has only half a mile left, I start to gradually pick up my pace in preparation for the finish. However, everyone around me does also, so I have to go even faster to pass other runners. My legs are burning at this point, but I know my time hinges on whether or not I speed up on this portion of the race. Sensing the pressure of the final stretch, the crowd is the rowdiest that it has been the whole race. The crowd seems only a blur, but their thunderous cries reverberate inside my head.
July 4, 8:25 a.m. The finish line came into view just a little while ago. It is only a few seconds away, but the runners seem to be inching toward it as slowly as possible. Motivated by the thought of a faster time and the coveted t-shirt, however, I speed up one more gear to finish with a time of 55:06, a slight disappointment, but considering all that I have been through in the past few months, I feel a profound joy merely from finishing the race.