I did it. I finished the Peachtree Road Race.
And so did 57,999 of my closest friends.
Maybe that's not the exact number, as the organization email said around 58,000 of the 60,000 finished, but it was an experience I'll never forget.
And one I hope to do over and over again.
I wouldn't say I loved running 6.2 miles, but I wouldn't say I hated it, either.
I've set a pretty low benchmark for myself for the next time, so I'm already counting on beating that time. Although, I'm pretty sure I'll never finish around the 27-minute mark that four runners hit.
I'll be happy to run a 5K in 27 minutes.
My morning started much later than the guys at the beginning of the line as I was in the last heat of the race.
The first heat began at 7:30 a.m. My heat was scheduled for 9:05 but didn't hit the start line until closer to 9:10.
At 7:30 a.m., the temperature wasn't bad. At 9 a.m., it was starting to creep higher. At 10 a.m., it was hot!
It was around that time that I reached the biggest hill in the course, so I decided to save some energy and walk.
Seriously, I would guess around 90 percent of the runners remaining walked this portion. It wasn't easy, and the temperature was climbing.
After the hill, I jogged the rest of the race. I have no idea at what pace. It definitely wasn't anything to write home about, but I promised myself I wouldn't walk the last portion. I accomplished that.
The "fans" on the street were great, too. I had "holy water" splashed on me. I slapped hands with some kids who were very excited. I even got shot in the face with a water gun. I enjoyed cooling off. I didn't enjoy it getting in my ear and forcing my ear bud out for the next 10 minutes.
After finishing the race, my husband and I enjoyed the refreshments -- bagels, peaches, bananas and ice cream sandwiches -- and hit the road before watching the Braves lose to the Cubs.
By the way, if you have never seen Fourth of July fireworks at Turner Field, you are missing out. They were fantastic!
Overall, I truly enjoyed my first Peachtree Road Race experience. It motivated me to get back on a normal running routine in an effort to improve my time and health and toughen my feet, which suffered the only two casualties -- a nasty blister and a bloody toe and sock.
That makes it sound horrible, but it really wasn't. It was a struggle, don't get me wrong. But it was an inner struggle, not a physical one. Yes, there were pains along the way, but nothing that would keep me from doing it again.
The inner struggle finally turned into inner relief when it was over.
And if I was honest with myself, I could have run a few more miles.
Now, did I want to run a few more miles? Nope. A 10K was good for me. Maybe, just maybe, after I get my pace up, I'll consider something longer.
Stephanie Pedersen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 706-571-8502.