2010 Race Report: Fleet Feet 4-Miler

I’m moving an older post from 2 years ago about this race – a concurrent/companion race to the Tarheel 10-miler – for reference… I wrote this in 2010 for a different blog – and so far my only “did not finish” race:

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Fleet Feet 4-Miler (Chapel Hill, NC)

sigh   I was due a bad race…  glad I got it out of the way so close to my  HM  so I can shake it off and move on… Having said that, it wasn’t  all  “bad” – just not as expected… that’s probably a better way to  describe  it…

Pre-pre-race:  looking back, this should have  been an omen, but at the time, it just  seemed like a bunch of bad things  happening independently of each other  – now, I’m not so convinced. I  told you all about my little sock-less  escapade in the Kayanos for the  sake of “getting one in” on Monday –  well, that was the only run I had  this week because it tore my feet  up (as it turns out). The blisters  burst and my feet were a total mess  Thursday and Friday. Thursday, I  tried to get my packet – drove all the  way from downtown Raleigh to  Carborro (about 30 miles) only to miss  the packet pick up by 10 minutes  (Fleet Feet in Carborro is apparently  very serious about closing at 7).  Tried again on Friday to get my  packet – got all the way there (barely)  in time – get my NCSU red party  crasher bib (awesome – has a removable  chip in an envelope in the back  that you take out after the race so you  don’t have to wait in line for  someone to cut it off!) and very cute  T-shirt (even if it does have  “Tarheel” on it… might still wear it –  ha ha) and got back into my  car. Well… Fleet Feet is in the shopping  center that is – at best – a  cluster-(well placed explative). So, to say  the least, I was having a  really hard time figuring out how to get the h  out of that parking lot.  I finally figured it out and blew through a  pedestrian cross that I  didn’t see – in front of Carborro’s Finest. So,  being the good girl  that I am, I pull over and… (another well placed  explative) left my  wallet on my desk at work. Really? The guy was nice  about it since I  was very apologetic and it was clear that I never  come up there, he  let me off with a Warning. I think it was fairly  obvious when I didn’t  have any idea what he was talking about – you mean  you have cross-walks  outside of intersections? not used to that…  seriously, they have  cross-walks every 20 yards or so in Carborro – not  just at  intersections (of which there are also plenty). Not really a  shocker I  didn’t see it (upon second pass, I see why – it wasn’t painted  on the  street but, there were signs… just didn’t expect it… now I  do).  That meant I had to drive all the way back to my office to get my   wallet – I didn’t get home until after 9 and blew through about 1/2 a tank of gas on this little escapade.

I  had decided  that, since this one was so close to my HM, I wouldn’t try  to PR it or  go crazy. I just wanted to get the same splits or close to  the same  splits as last year’s 4-miler (8:44 splits) and I thought  that was  doable, even this close to my HM and with my foot injuries. I  didn’t  even wear my heart rate monitor or my gps – I even carried  around my  Canon G10 (I’m a bit of a shutterbug and that is my   ‘take-with-me-everywhere-but-a-race’ camera)… that’s how I approached   this race. The most important thing to me was that I was decked out in   my NCSU stuff running through UNC campus.

Pre-race:  I slept in my clothes  to save time. Good thing I did… Overnight, my  3yo decided he had to  have Mommy-snuggle-time at 2 AM and crawled into  bed with me. He tossed  and turned and slapped me around and snored  until my alarm went off at  5AM, at which point he instructed me to turn  it off and was seriously  cranky. At around 5:15, I got up to start  getting ready, and he started  crying because he wanted me to “snuggle  wif” him. awwww… what a heart  breaker! so… I got a pretty late  start after giving a few more  snuggles, wrapping up my feet and waiting  for their Dad to get up to  come soothe them. Finally got my oatmeal  and coffee in me and I was out  the door by around 6:15 (about 15  minutes later than I wanted). The  whole way to Chapel Hill, I thought  the race started at 7, (it started  at 7:30), so I was stressing out  about where to park, (there were a lot  of other events on the UNC  campus today, in addition to the race, and  they threatened to tow your  car if you didn’t park in the right place).  Parking was over a mile  away from the start! yeah – really. It wasn’t  until I got to Chapel  Hill that I discovered I had an extra 30 minutes  to go to the bathroom.  Thank God. I start the trek toward the start  area, and saw a MAN  wearing a run skirt! That was a first. I did a  double check to make  sure – it was absolutely a run skirt (I wear those a  lot, so I tend to  notice them). I finally got to the start area, used  the bathroom and  started walking around to figure out where I was  supposed to go. One  thing I regret now (and you’ll know why in a bit) is  that I didn’t look  at the 10-miler route. I assumed they were starting  in the same place,  but I didn’t see signs for anything other than the  10, except for a  few signs that also had the 4miler logo on it. Truth be  told, I still  don’t know. Maybe I’ll bring myself to look at the map  tomorrow, but  I’m still too annoyed tonight. As I asked around, none of  the workers  seemed to know and most of the folks seemed to be there for  the  10-miler, but I saw signs here and there that had the 4-miler, so I   assumed I was in the right place so I located the 9mm section of the   corral and picked out a good spot, I turned up my iPod to the perfect song for me today, on 11, and waited for the gun to go off.

Race:   One of the few races I’ve been in where we actually started on time!    Woo hoo! I started off pretty slow because of my feet – once I got  about  a half a mile into it, they stopped hurting quite as bad (that  is,  until I got into the shower – ouch!) but as the crowd thinned out,  I  started passing folks and ended up behind the 9mm pacer. I kept up  with  two women who I traded leads with – one I called black skirt girl  who  ran the same pace as me until we got to the 2nd big hill and then I  lost  her. The other was a cancer patient, and I was almost in tears  running  with her. She was amazing! We pretty much ran the same pace,   occasionally trading leads most of the time I ran (untill I stopped and   she passed me – more about that in a minute). All was great through  Mile  3 – I started, however, getting to the point where I was looking  for  where we turned off at around where I thought (based on my time)  should  be about 3.5 miles –  because we were supposed to finish inside  Kenan  Stadium, where UNC plays their football games. I didn’t see one.

Hmmm…. Then, I passed by the 4-mile marker and it was… a water   table! huh? Wow – Kenan Stadium looks soooo much bigger (and less   industrial) on TV. I glance down at my watch – I’m right at 33 minutes   (actually, way better than I expected to be), but I thought “Ok, maybe   they did it backwards, because, you know, I didn’t see a 1-mile marker,   right?” so I kept going… until I realized we were running on  Franklin  Street – huh? I don’t remember Franklin Street on the 4-mi  route?!?! I  stopped to ask someone “you know, it seems like this is the  10-mile  route – did I miss the 4-mile finish” ‘Oh, no” she assures me  “it is  just ahead” Ok, so I keep going. My legs are about to give out,  though,  because I only prepared for 4 miles, but I wanted to make sure  I  finished running, so I continue… until I pass the marker for 5  miles.  For a fleeting moment, I thought to myself “well… I could keep  going  and see how far down 10 I can get – you never know… maybe I  can  finish…” but I had to stop myself there – I didn’t want to hurt   myself. I was getting tired. My feet were hurting (and later I found  out  they were bleeding), and my legs were starting to feel weak. I had  to  stop. I was so disappointed. Really – either I picked the wrong  start,  or there was ONE sign for the 4-miler split off and I missed it  while I  was playing with my iPod or getting a bit of water or  something. Who  knows. I’ll find out more tomorrow when I look up the  routes again. The  good news is, even with the stops, I was still  (unofficially) under a  9mm.

*Post-Race: After  I realized I was on  the wrong path – and only at the half-way mark of  the 10-miler at that –  I realized there was no way to salvage my  “official” time – and I had  already run a mile more than I planned for,  so I was pretty happy with  what I did, but I still felt like a looser  walking! I know I shouldn’t  but… eh, I do. I cut across campus to  head back to the REAL Kenan  Stadium (which, by the way, is huge –  though not as big as  Carter-Finley… our stadium –  and does look the  same on TV as in  person… very light blue….) so I can drop off my  chip. Just to add  icing to my $*t cake, I got lost on campus. Really? I  couldn’t believe  it. I took me almost an hour to find the stadium! Wow!  I was so tired by  then – and thirsty (I had finished off the water in  my Nathan hand  held) – not to mention hungry and increasingly  frustrated about being  lost. I finally found the stadium, returned my  chip (and was a wee bit  jealous of the folks running INTO the stadium)  grabbed a banana a couple  of drinks and headed out back to my car…  where I got lost… again.  Remember I told you it was about a mile  between where I parked and where  we started? Well… I thought I  remembered where we started (we didn’t  finish where we started, which  was my first mistake) and I went in the  opposite direction from where I  should have been going. Another 45  minutes later, I finally found my  car. Grrrrrr…. I probably ended up  walking another 10-miles beyond  the 5 I ran, lol.  My 5yo started a  Soccer league and I got there late not to mention I was bursting at the seams, if you know  what I mean. I have had enough of port-a-johns today!!

Overall, I thought the course (at least the first half of the 10-miler) was great – a bit hilly, but I’m used to that. So pretty, though. They had pacers in red shirts with their pace on the back of their shirts –   that’s the first time I’ve seen that and it was a pretty nice touch.   They also had a group of guys on bikes who rode along side the runners to protect them from traffic – also a very nice touch! Lots of water stations, mile markers at EVERY mile (ended up seeing the 1-mile marker on one of my wondering around/getting lost trips), a LOT of pre-race communication (which was helpful) and the removable chip – and, running inside the stadium looked like it was pretty cool. Had it not been for the 4-miler snafu, I would have marked this down as one of the better races I’ve participated in! I have already filled out the survey for this race and rated everything but the signs and the volunteers’ knowledge of the race information highly. I think I might do it again next year, but I’ll run the 10-miler!! ha ha. At least then, I’ll know where I’m going!

Hope you all have a good  night!

2010 Races: Great Raleigh Road Race 2010

The Great Raleigh Road Race – 4 Miles

Raleigh, NC – July 3, 2010

Good Race, it has been a while… good to see you again!

Prologue

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.

Pre-Race

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.

Race

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.

Post Race

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