2016 Fairfax Four Miler

Scroll all the way down to the end of the post for the tl;dr version.

Prologue

Saturday night capped two weeks of training for the 2017 Eugene Marathon.  I ran about 60 miles during the week.  I did my interval and tempo runs on Monday and Wednesday, and then ran a 16 mile long run before work on Friday.

Goals

Personal Records:

  • 4 Mile PR & Course PR: 27:48 (6:57 pace) at the 2010 Fairfax Four Miler.
  • Most Recent 4 Miler: 28:19 (7:05 pace) at the 2015 Fairfax Four Miler.

Achievable: Sub-29:00 (7:15 pace).  This was supposed to be my speed workout for the week.  I thought goal 10K pace (7:00-7:15) should be doable.

Stretch: Sub-28:00 (7:00 pace).  I based this time off my Garmin Race Predictor, which estimated that I could run a 21:43 (6:59 pace) 5K, and what that translated to in the McMillan Calculator.

Strategy:  Average 7:00 pace for the first two miles, not give up too much time during hilly mile 3, and then hang on for the downhill finish.

Course

The course is a loop through the George Mason University campus.  The terrain is rolling with long uphills and a steep downhill at the end.  There’s one water stop between the 2 and 2.5 mile mark.  Crowd support is non-existent.

Fairfax Four Miler – Course

Pre-Race

I did a recovery run in the morning so I could hit my mileage goal for the week – 6 miles at 9:30 pace.  I ate a good breakfast as soon as I got home, showered, did a TENS session, and even put on some compression wear to help with recovery.  I put myself down for a nap at 2pm and woke up just before 4pm.  After the rest, I felt really groggy.  I didn’t have time to make coffee so I had some Run Gum instead. It didn’t help.  I drove to pick up my friend and we drove out to Fairfax together.

We got to the race site with plenty of time before the race.  I had preregistered but my friend hadn’t.  At the check-in, the volunteer asked my name and I realized I had spelled my name in incorrectly when I registered!  I asked if I could change it – in case I placed, I wanted my real name announced – but I don’t think she understood and just changed in on my bib.  Oh well.  My friend registered and we went back to the car to get ready for the race.  This year, I made sure that I put my bib on before leaving the car.  We took a detour to check out the new Pacers store and use the restroom.  My friend and I did a short warm-up before the race.  Along the way, we saw one or two friends and got to wish them a good race.

Weather

The air temperature was cold but not terrible – 46 degrees.  However, the wind was pretty strong – ~20 miles per hour out of the south with ~30 mph gusts!

2016 Fairfax Four Miler – Weather

The Race

Early Miles – Miles 1 to 2

The course started uphill on University Drive/George Mason Boulevard.  I immediately felt the wind during the first mile.  It turned left for a jaunt through a neighborhood.  I thought I was running pretty fast out the gate but my first split was a surprise.  7:36?!  I went back and forth with a woman in an orange top and stripped Capri pants who looked like a master runner.  In the meanwhile, the course curved right before doing a short out-and-back on Patriot Circle.  Back on the main part of the course, I felt my legs finally stretching out a little but I held back knowing that it was still early in the race and I was running into the strong wind.  I sensed something to my right and see a dog on a pretty long lead.  I move to the left to avoid it but the couple running with him were fast, so he was near me for much of the race.

Splits (by course)= 7:36, 7:37.

Later Miles, Miles 2 to 4

I hit Mile Marker 2 and decided to continue running at the same effort since the course started climbing again.  The course curved to the right and did another short out-and-back on Mason Pond Drive.  Just after the turn was the only water stop.  It was crazy!  Some of the volunteers handing out water (including one in a gorilla suit) were in the middle of the course; the couple with the dog had stopped to give him water but weren’t really off the course…  I sped through it as quickly as possible.  After the turnaround, I saw my friend and yelled her name.  I felt myself running harder.

The course turned left back onto Patriot Circle.  It was very dark and I almost didn’t see Mile Marker 3, but when I did, I finally let myself run hard.  About a half mile later, I passed the woman in the capris.  I continued flying down George Mason Boulevard towards the finish.

Splits (by course)= 7:33, 6:46.

2016 Fairfax Four Miler produced by Pacers Running. Saturday, 31 December, 2016. Photo by Brian W. Knight/Swim Bike Run Photo.

Post-Race

My friend and I went back to the car to get warm clothes and then hung out waiting for the awards.  We stood in line for cheese pizza and Yoo-hoo.  I gobbled it down in about a minute.

Result

My time was 29:29 (7:23 pace) [Log Details].  In the end, I ran closer to half marathon than 10 pace.  I was the 129th finisher, 31st woman, and 3rd in my age group (since one of the masters women placed overall).

Epilogue

2016 Fairfax Four Miler Hoodie and AG Medal

I was a little disappointed with my time.  Over the next hour or so, I told myself that this race wasn’t a goal in any way and my time didn’t matter.  You ran 16 miles yesterday!, I thought  I reminded myself that at this point in my training, I’m trying to build a good base so I can run well a few months from now.  Gradually, it sunk in.  My thoughts turned to how wonderful it was to end the year with so many of my running friends.  Then, I got excited about running and racing in 2017!

 

 

 

Abridged Version

I knew from the start that my legs were shot.  I took it pretty easy during the first three miles to make sure I could finish and then pushed the pace to the finish.  It was a windy day.  I ran 29:29 and finished 3rd in my age group.  I’m excited for 2017!

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