Only a few years after becoming more committed to succeeding at the sport, the 41-year old Buckhead resident has responded with a number of impressive performances.
One of her best outings came at last year’s Peachtree Road Race, where she finished with a personal-best 10K (6.2-mile) time of 38 minutes and 52 seconds.
As Meck steps to the starting line in this year’s version of the nationally-renowned Fourth of July event, she will be taking her place among the elite women’s field as a super-seeded runner.
Meck and the rest of the women’s elite group will start the race at 7:17 a.m., with the main part of the event beginning at 7:30 a.m. The race starts at Lenox Square Mall in Buckhead and the 10K course winds its way down Peachtree Road to the finish line on 10th Street at Piedmont Park in Midtown.
For Meck, it was an exciting – if somewhat scary – moment when she received the notice of her super-seeded status in the mail from the Atlanta Track Club in March.
“My first thought was ‘Oh, boy! I don’t want to be last [among the women’s elite runners],” Meck said. “I wasn’t expecting that. It’s exciting, but I just don’t want to be last.”
It will be the eighth Peachtree for Meck, who said the race has become a special experience in her life.
“You get to run down one of the busiest thoroughfares in Atlanta and it’s just everybody’s watching,” Meck said. “There’s so many spectators and it’s all walks of life, all abilities. It’s just a big spectacle. You run through this area that you don’t normally pay attention to, because you’re in the car. You’re going down this street all the time [in the car] and this time, you’re really able to take it all in. It’s very special.”
Meck, who grew up in New Smyrna Beach, Fla,. and lived for several years in Los Angeles, didn’t start running until moving to Atlanta in 2004 – with Peachtree being among a number of road races she participated in early on.
Meck began to become more serious about running in 2008, when she joined the Peachtree Road Boot Camp, a fitness group that meets year-round and where she was coached by competitive runner Chip Owens.
But, it was about three years ago that she committed fully to excelling in the sport.
“When I moved here in 2004, I started doing [running] to stay active, to do something, and it was in 2008 that I discovered that running could be so special,” Meck said. “It was probably 2010 that I decided to see what I could do if I really focused on it.”
It was at last year’s Peachtree that the increased commitment really began to pay off for Meck with her time of 38:52.
Since then, Meck has made her mark in national competition as a member of the Atlanta Track Club’s women’s competitive team.
She won the women’s title with a time at the USATF 8K Masters’ (40-and-over) Championships in Williamsburg, Va. June 1 with a time of 30:22 after placing third among masters’ women (23:02) on a 6K course at the at the USATF Club Cross Country Championships in Lexington, Ky., last December.
She also took another step forward in her development as a runner when she hired elite runner Malcolm Campbell as a coach after being notified of her Peachtree super-seeding in March.
“I was thinking ‘I don’t want to be last [among the elite women at Peachtree], so I turned to Malcolm and he said he would be willing to take me on and he coached me to a national championship.”
Campbell, an east Cobb resident, has been impressed with Meck so far.
“She’s so easy to work with,” Campbell said. “She’s so tough and so talented and she’s so new to the sport – she’s kind of a breath of fresh air. She’s wonderful to work with. If anything, it’s hard to keep her from doing too much.”
Now, Meck is looking to surpass her effort of a year ago at Peachtree.
“I want a [personal-best time],” Meck said. “I know I can do it and I’m just going to do the best that I have.”