The Great Raleigh Road Race – 4 Miles
Raleigh, NC – July 3, 2010
Good Race, it has been a while… good to see you again!
This is my anniversary race – which means, as of today, I have been officially serious about running for a year, so it is pretty sentimental for me. I had a pretty tough year and even though there were days I didn’t make my training because of sadness, schedules or other issues, I was still able to pick it up when I could and continue to do it over all. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my body over the last year, and I must say I’m surprised that I never gave myself the credit I probably deserved when I was younger – I am able to accomplish a lot more than I ever thought I could. I’m proud of myself for sticking to it. Keeping myself accountable by posting here helps, too. On that note… I look forward to running this race next year, as long as the body lets me
All the sentimental stuff aside – I loved this race last year, and even more this year. It is a really small race and most of the folks running are either hard-core older folks (mostly men that I noticed) who are what I like to refer to as “lifers” – who have always done it – or kids who are running track for high school or college and are using this as practice – not a whole lot in between, which is where I am – and it might explain my placement! Either way, this is a race that is designed for the folks who love running for the sport of it, so the attitude is very positive and everyone encourages each other, although we are competing with each other. The other thing I really like about this race – and maybe I’m becoming a race snob now – is that the runners’ etiquette is at a very high level. No people passing on the right, slower folks keep to the right instead of in the middle, no snot rocket dodging (they pull off to the side to do it) – all around a great group of people in the race. Anybody in the Raleigh area looking for a good >5K distance should consider this one for next year – I highly recommend it.
I have been looking forward to this one for weeks. Like I mentioned before, of all the races I did last year, this one was, hands-down, my favorite. Still is. Having said that, I spaced and forgot to get my packet the day before (not at all like me) and didn’t think about that until the night before – d’oh! So, I decided to go to bed pretty early (around 10) and get up a bit earlier since I had to make another trip to my car. I got up around 5:30, ate my usual oatmeal, bagel & PB, and coffee breakfast, though, this morning, I allowed myself to drink the whole 16 oz cup of coffee. I never usually even make that much, but I really wanted it for some reason this morning. I chased it with my 16oz of water, got dressed and left the house around 6:40. When I opened the garage door, it was actually cold outside – what?!? Isn’t it… July? that’s pretty… AWESOME! haha. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the day, to be honest. I got to my parking deck (this race starts about 4 blocks from my office) and made potty stop #1. Got down to packet pick up, got my bib and chip, and then headed back to the car – on the way making potty stop #2. Put my shirt (tech shirt! but… green?? isn’t this an Independence Day race?) and the empty bag (race packets are getting lighter – wtf??) in the car, and headed back to make potty stop #3. All of this happened in a 30 minute span of time! I had a little time to spare, so I walked around the block a little to loosen everything up – do what I call all the ‘snap-crackle-pops’ routine – haha. As I rounded the block after my 3rd trip around, I heard them announcing something (couldn’t understand what it was, though) so I decided to head toward the corral.
Although I haven’t chimed in yet, I have been reading the comments about the music during races. I was always one of those “gotta have my tunes” kind of runner – I thought it helped me focus, kept my pace, etc. This race, they strongly encourage people not to listen to music during it, but you don’t get DQ’d or anything… they just frown at you. I brought my Nano, just in case, and had been listening to it while I was walking around the block and back and forth to the car, but I usually turn it off at start, and then turn it back on once we cross the start line. This time, I thought – “well… I don’t want them to frown at me, so I’ll just leave it on and pop the ear buds after I see the one mile marker”. As I moved my way up to the front, I looked around and noticed that there were only a few people who had them, so I wouldn’t be frowned on alone. (as a side note – there were a few folks in red, white and blue – I wore my favorite red and white striped Addias shirt with my blue skirt). I started my GPS and, wouldn’t you know it, the #@%#@ thing didn’t work. Oh well. They started the race with “on your marks” – I don’t remember that from last year – or any other race – but this is how I knew which kids were the track kids – they took the “marks” stance. Once again, I really wish I could capture a photo of everybody looking at their watches as the race starts – such a fun image burned into my mind.
I was sans gadgets – no music or GPS. Just running… for the purity of it. As we started out on the first mile, I could tell by my breathing that I was going too fast – probably sub-7 for the first .30 mile or so and I didn’t want to burn out, so I tried to slow it a bit to regulate my breathing. By my estimate of about .75 mile or so, I could tell my breathing had regulated and I was running at what seemed like a pretty comfortable pace – just fast enough that I could have talked if I wanted to, but I really didn’t want to talk to anybod. Of all 4 miles, honestly, the first was the hardest. It usually is. As I finished that mile, I was grateful it was over and I started to feel stronger – good thing, too, because that’s where the hills kick in. I will give the race planners credit for this: at least they kept us off St. Mary’s and Boylan – those are the nastiest of all the hills around this route – but we did have to run past Chargrill twice… that’s just mean.
I was surprised that once I got to the 2 mile marker, I was still feeling great and I didn’t feel the need to listen to my music, other than I really wanted to wash out the sound of “Jump Around” and “Copa Cobana” – two songs that, in my version of Hell, would be blasting on repeat while I’m running on a treadmill stuck on an incline (there are more, but these are just the two I heard today that bug me). Needless to say, even though those songs were worming through my brain at various points, so were a couple of other songs I recently discovered that I loved, so it was a decent balance. Between mile marker 1 and somewhere around mile 3, my mind starts to wonder: isn’t that house cute! it is so shady back here. Did I close the garage door? I don’t think the dog went out this morning. Now, why did those folks paint that house THAT color… etc. While I’m thinking about all of this and not paying attention to my running, I notice a volunteer say to me “almost finished – just about a mile to go!” – wait, what? Didn’t I just pass the one mile marker? I was so engrossed in thought that I didn’t even notice the 2 mile or 3 mile marker. No telling how my pace was, but judging from my speed at the first mile and the last .3 mile or so, I was probably hovering around 8:30 or better. Nice! I looked at my watch (remembered it was there from the last race – ha ha) and, although I stink at doing math while I’m running, I figured that I was getting close to a pretty nice PR for the 4-mile distance and started to appreciate all those negative split workouts I cursed before. I felt myself running a lot faster all of the sudden – and a little scared my legs were going to give out.
I crossed the finish line at 32:44 unofficial chip time, 4th in AG. I think that is at least a full 2 minutes faster than last year – woo hoo! I have to look it up, though, but I’m pretty sure that’s about right.
I saved the box from my Kayanos to keep all my race bibs in, and I’ve now added this one to the top of the pile, which is still pretty low in the box. My goal is to fill that thing so the sucker overflows. This race reminds me of that goal