A blog by runners. For runners.

St. Patrick’s 4-miler race report

ashley-marcin-racing-dayThis weekend marked the first event of spring racing season (I know, it’s not actually spring yet, but it starts with this race up where we live!). With all my slow slogging this winter, I didn’t have much confidence in my ability to PR at this weekend’s 4-miler. At the same time, I was curious how sticking with outdoor running might impact my time versus all those years I’ve retreated indoors for treadmill training.

The weather was great — partly cloudy and in the upper 30s at the start. As a warmup, my husband Stephen and I ran down from our house about a mile to the start and then did some strides to get our legs feeling speedy. Before we knew it, it was time to line up in the sea of green shirts, skirts, shorts, and other festively clad runners.

I’ve learned from experience, as I do this race every year, that a lot of non-runners use this race (which is to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, if you haven’t guessed already) to run — yes — but more to enjoy the after-party. I’m all in for that, too, so don’t get me wrong. It just makes for a difficult start when the less experienced in the pack want to line up near the front. So, I situated myself way farther ahead than I would normally, feeling somewhat sheepish next to some of the area’s fastest runners.

MILE 0-1
The gun went off, and immediately it became clear my spot was perfect placement. No human traffic jams or epic struggles to get past anyone. Yet, I wasn’t being passed either. Anyway, the first mile is relatively flat. There are actually no mile markers or clocks along the course, and I didn’t wear my watch because it often hinders me in races.

So, I relied on bits and pieces of the chatter I heard around me and figured I was in a good pace because someone said “I don’t want to go below 7 this first mile.” If I was running beside someone like that, I was fine. My previous PR in this race was a 29:45, which is 7:26/mile. I could even slow down, I thought. However, the last part of that mile is a slight downhill, so I tried to take advantage of it.

MILE 1-2
The second mile, on the other hand, is a gradual uphill — the entire distance of it. Good thing I live in the neighborhood and run the exact hill almost every single day! I always enjoy this part of the course because I pass people left and right. That’s why training hills is so important. It seems, at least from what I saw on the course, that a lot of people neglect it. It feels good both physically and mentally to speed right up those inclines while others are huffing and puffing. (Though I certainly did a lot of that, too.)

MILE 2-3
Between miles 2 and 3, I hit some rocky terrain. The winter has been rough and it’s showing on the streets with lots of potholes. There’s still some icy patches, too, from where the snow is melting and then freezing over again. So, this mile felt like an obstacle course.

I also started to curse myself for not eating a better breakfast, which is something I always struggle with on race morning. I told myself over and over again that I need to really practice fueling well if I want to take minutes off my half marathon time in a few months.

MILE 3-4
At the start of the last mile, an ambulance sped by. Everyone was OK, just startled. I later I found out that Stephen heard it, too, but he was finishing (first place!) and not all the way back with me at mile 3. This part of the course has another pesky uphill portion right before the finish. Again, I basked in the glory of all my hill training and passed a good 12 people before gunning for the finish.

I saw the clock in the distance and it was ticking away at 28:50, 51, 52. I was so upset. For some reason, I didn’t remember my last race time, but I was certain that I wasn’t going to PR. I crossed the line in 29:09 (7:18/mile) and was definitely winded, but not nearly as sore or over-extended as I was in my last 10K race where I got a very undeserved PR.

Everyone was exchanging race times, and I wasn’t too keen on sharing mine because I wasn’t sure if I was slower or only marginally better than last year. But when we got into the car and I looked up the results, I realized I should have been bragging all the way through the coffee line. I had taken nearly 40 seconds off my best-ever 4 mile PR. I’ll take it!

Did you race this weekend? How’d it go?