2017 Fairfax Four Miler

2017 Fairfax Four Miler - BannerScroll all the way down to the end of the post for the tl;dr version.

Prologue

After last Saturday’s long run to close out a 50 mile week, I started tapering for the 2018 San Diego 50 Miler!  My schedule called for a rest day on Sunday but I wanted to end the year at the Fairfax Four Miler.  It was going to be cold, though.  The forecast for the region was low-20s with wind chills in the single digits!

Goals

Personal Records:

  • 4 Mile PR & Course PR: 27:48 (6:57 pace) at the 2010 Fairfax Four Miler.
  • Most Recent 4 Miler: 29:29 (7:23 pace) at the 2016 Fairfax Four Miler.

Likely: Sub-32:00 (8:00 pace).  This wasn’t a goal race, so I wasn’t going to run it hard.  I’ve been able to do “steady” runs a little slower than 8:00 pace.

Strategy:  Don’t freeze to death!

Course

The course is a loop through the George Mason University campus.  The terrain is gentle uphills and downhills throughout.  There’s one water stop after the 2 mile mark.  Crowd support is non-existent.

Fairfax Four Miler – Course

Playlist

I didn’t listen to music during the race.  Well, not from my own personal device…

Pre-Race

The forecast for this race was going to be cold and I wasn’t sure I wanted to torture myself when my goal race in two weeks would probably be 70 degrees.  But, I pre-registered for the race and at least wanted to pick up the hoodie since they’ve served as my throw aways at the New York City Marathon in recent years.

I took a nap on Sunday afternoon and woke up at 4:30pm for a 6pm race about a half hour drive away!  I dressed quickly, rushed to my car, and sped off a few minutes after 5pm.  During the ride, I noticed, I forgot a hat!  “Well, I’m definitely not running”.  Then, I thought, “You could buy a hat at Pacers.”  A few miles down the road, I realized I forgot my iPod.  “You can run without music,” I thought.  Run without music?!  Once that thought came into my mind, I knew I was running this race. (Oddly, I remembered a headlamp.)

I parked at the race site at about 5:45pm.  I picked up my bib and valued hoodie at the Old Town Hall, and then jogged to the old Pacer’s Running Store location to buy a hat only to realize it was a warming station.  I didn’t allow myself to be lulled by the heat, though.  I went to the actual store location, bought a hat, went back to my car, dropped off my hoodie, and was at the start by 5:55pm!  I even had time for an anxious selfie:

 

2017 Fairfax Four Miler - Selfie

2017 Fairfax Four Miler – Selfie

Weather

I captured the conditions from National Airport, which showed the air temperature was 20 degrees!  But, I should have grabbed Dulles Airport.  I’m guessing it was a few degrees colder.  With the wind chill, it felt like about 6 degrees!

2017 Fairfax Four Miler - Weather

2017 Fairfax Four Miler – Weather

The Race

Early Miles – Miles 1 to 2

The race starts with a slight uphill on University Drive/George Mason Boulevard.  I felt a little out of sorts – like my legs weren’t moving as fast as I was directing them.  I decided not to push the pace, though.  The cold air burned my lungs at first but I adapted to the feeling after a few minutes.  During the first mile, I noticed a woman running and playing music from her phone.  It was a bit annoying, no jealous because I wished I had remembered my iPod!  Music would have helped me take my mind off of how miserable I was.  She stopped to do something with her phone and I forged ahead.  The course veered left for a short stretch through a neighborhood.  I was still pretty miserable from the cold.  When I saw my first split, I was disappointed it wasn’t much faster than my interval pace.

The course took a short out-and-back on Patriot Circle.  Usually, I can cheer for my fast friends but I was too far back to see any of them.  Back on the main part of the course, I ran a little faster as the course headed downhill.  Closing in on the second mile, I heard some jingling and sensed there was a dog next to me – just like last year!  Meanwhile, Music Woman was back on my radar.  She would stop, I’d pass her, and then she’d start running again.  I wondered, “Is she running this race as an interval workout?”  My competitor mind countered, “If she is, she’s still beating you.”

Splits (by course): 7:44, 7:11.

Later Miles, Miles 2 to 4

I felt relief after Mile 2.  “You’re halfway done!”  I ran an even effort but the course climbed a little so my pace slowed.  Plus, I really didn’t want to be running anymore, so there’s that.  The course curved to the right and took an out-and-back on Mason Pond Drive.  Usually, there’s a water stop here but it was removed due to the cold.  The water would have froze in the cups!

After the turnaround, I sped up a little to put some distance between me and a woman running with her dog.  The course turned left back onto Patriot Circle.  It was very dark in sections.  My headlamp was slipping off my head, so I took it off my head and just held it.  At Mile Marker 3, I told myself, “Just one more mile.”  Runners were passing me but I didn’t feel the need to push harder.  I just wanted the cold torture to be over.  I took advantage of the downhill on George Mason Boulevard to the finish and passed Music Woman for the last time, though.

Splits (by course): 7:46, 7:35.

Post-Race

I crossed the finish line and went inside to grab a slice of cheese pizza.  I took one bite and then threw the rest way.  I wasn’t hungry at all.  On the drive home in my warm car, my appetite grew.  And, what did I want…  pizza!  I ate a microwave version before going out to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

Result

My time was 30:33 (7:39 pace) [Log Details].  I was the 170th out of 1204 finishers.  I can’t believe so many people ran this race!  I was 40th woman and 7th in my age group.

2017 Fairfax Four Miler - Hoodie

2017 Fairfax Four Miler – Hoodie

Epilogue

The race crew did a great job adjusting to the cold weather. The warming stations were a great idea! I felt fine with how I ran but a couple of days later, I felt a cold coming on and had some regrets about running the race.

Abridged Version

I started tapering for the 2018 San Diego 50 Miler on Sunday and was supposed to take a rest day but I like closing out the year with a race.  I had doubts about running when I saw it was going to be 20 degrees with a wind chill of 6 degrees, but, I did it anyway.  My lungs burned but I finished in 30:33 (7:39 pace) and was 7th in my age group.  Naturally, I came down with a cold two days later.

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