This is my second time running this race. This is such a well-run race and has a cool concept. The highlight for ATC10K is that you get to run on I-277 which is Charlotte’s inner belt. The views are awesome and it is just funny to run on a big highway.
I achieved a PR when I did this race in 2019. I knew I wanted to do it again, but I was pleased that it fell on my 18-mile training date. When I got down to thinking about logistics, I wasn’t sure how to fit 18 miles in around it. ATC10K had an 8 am start time. Ultimately, I decided to run 12 miles the day before and then do my 10K the next day. I’m not sure if this is okay for marathon training, but I decided to go with it and then just make a good effort at the 10K.
The race is held on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend which is a paid because the expo was Saturday and no bin pickup on Sunday. If you want to do something else that weekend, it is difficult to get your bib. I went to the expo at Camp North End towards the end on Saturday. I’m not a fan of Camp North End, so I may be biased when I say it was just annoying. They planned other activities and such, but I must have arrived at a bad time. To support some of the local restaurants there, they have everyone a token for $5, but most of the food stalls were closed. I got my bib and shirt, and after exploring for a little, decided I was just going to leave. You also get a NoDa beer with a custom can. I’m not a big beer drinker, but I love when they do this!
Race day was really well organized. Lots of porta-potties. Music was playing. Started at First Ward Park. The weather was lovely. Since I would be done by 9 am, I left my hat at home. This was definitely a mistake. I was really nervous but just aiming to be slow and steady. Ideally, I would run most of it, if not all, but I knew there was a killer hill around mile 4.
I listened to a Bigger Pockets podcast and just went. We ran through Uptown, past the Knights and Panthers stadiums before making our way down the ramp to 277. I was feeling really good, so I had to really watch my pace to not go too fast. I needed to save my energy to the end. Every time I looked down, I was below an 11-mile pace, which made me nervous.
Once I was on 277, I laughed. It is so funny to run on a big road like that. Totally different perspective when you’re not in a car. You notice things you wouldn’t normally notice. The views are pretty since Charlotte has such a pretty skyline. When you make your way around the city, you start to feel the hills. I had to walk for a little after the 3-mile marker then kept going steady until the BIG hill. This hill is just awful and it’s long. Once I passed that, I resumed my run and just kept going. About 5.5 miles in, I knew I was going to finish and have a decent time. It was time to stop holding back my speed. I ran the rest well and sprinted once I saw the finish line. I felt so strong! Man, was I proud of myself!
When I looked down to stop my watch it said 1:06 something. If that was true, I thought it could be a PR. I didn’t confirm before but I thought my 10K best was 1:08 something which I earned at the 2019 Around the Crown 10K. I couldn’t wait to get home to check. (Spoiler alert, I did PR!) My official time was 1:06:51.
The thing that makes me most excited is how good I felt. I wasn’t too tired. I felt strong. It was night and day from the Emerald City Half (which was also half the distance). I’ll continue to do this race in the future. It was such a good time and a really fun course to run. The race organizers do a wonderful job. It would be cool to see them host another race in Charlotte.