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It’s been almost a month since my last race.  And my last race was a very successful 2-miler in the same race series.  Those last 2 races had been really challenging – both physically + mentally.  Races of 2-miles and under don’t give you a lot of room for error.  It’s all about guts + speed – you gotta get out there fast and you gotta maintain that speed for the entire race.  Those races left me completely exhausted – both physically + mentally.

I was nervous all week leading up to this race.  Just the thought of having to race twice as far as the last 2 races was terrifying to me, because I remembered how I felt after both those races.  I tend to get “cold feet” before a race – I just get so nervous knowing how I feel and thinking about how FAST I need to run.  But, the good thing about a 4-mile race is that I had a lot more room for error.  If I started out too slow, I could easily make up for it the last 2 miles.  But, it didn’t keep my nerves at bay…

Luckily, I had some friendly reinforcements with my running buddies.  My BFF Stefanie was doing the race and was able to keep me a little calmer with some friendly chatter.  Plus, I got to meet up with some other running buddies – Abe + Kristin – who I don’t get to see too often.  It made the time leading up to the race a little better.  Plus, I was able to give them some helpful race tips that helped me get my head on straight before the race.

I ended up not doing a warm-up jog like usual since I was busy walking around and chatting with my friends, but thankfully I don’t think it affected my race.  I still made sure that my legs were warm before the race started.  And we had plenty of time since they ended up letting the half marathoners go first before we were able to start our race, delaying us about 10 minutes.  I ended up not getting too cold either, despite wind + shorts…

My biggest goal for the race was just to race smart.  I wanted to stay comfortably fast and try to keep my pace under 6:45 throughout.  I set my watch to let me know when I was over 7-minute miles and decided to check my splits every mile to try to keep my splits as consistent as possible.

I went out at a comfortably fast pace.  I had to keep telling myself to stay comfortable and that I had time.  The first mile was fairly flat and I was able to keep up with some faster girls.  I tried to keep my breathing steady and my eyes on the girls in front of me to keep making some progress toward them.

Mile 2 was a little more difficult.  Several hills, but I also kept telling myself that uphills also meant downhills.  This was also the point where we started seeing the half marathoners, so that gave me a little something to keep my mind occupied instead of focusing on how I felt.  But, actually, I was feeling surprisingly good through miles 2 and 3.  Lots of uphills, but those are definitely my strengths.  I was still keeping my sights set on the girls in front of me and made sure I was either staying with or passing if I came up to another female.  There were 2 or 3 girls I stuck with almost the entire race, but was able to finally pass 2 of them in mile 3.

Mile 4 was a whole different story.  The last mile was against the wind the entire time, which not only made it physically tough, but mentally tough as well.  But, I also felt like it was one of my best miles the entire race.  It wasn’t my fastest, but it was the one where I could tell my training had paid off.  I had plenty of endurance left in me, and I was able to maintain my speed with enough left at the end to give one last little kick.  The finish line is really awkward – you go down a path right past the finish line and then make 2 fairly sharp turns right before the finish.  Just another reason this series messes with your mind so much.  I had to keep telling myself to wait on my kick, wait on my kick, and I had just enough left in me to really push it through the end.  It certainly helped thinking that I had someone right behind me (4 seconds behind me, so my instincts were definitely right).

Time:  26:46
Average Pace:  6:33/mile (based on watch distance)
6th Place Overall Female
2nd Place Age Group 30-34

I’m SUPER happy with how this race went!  While I’m disappointed that I didn’t finish higher, I am thrilled with my time!  I actually tried to look at my 5K time during the race – just to see how close I was to a sub-20, but my second mile totally screwed me up.  I was right around a 20:14, which is HUGE progress from last month’s 5K at Hot Chocolate.  And by my 4-mile time (really, 4.10 miles according to my watch – which I feel like I can use since the race isn’t chip timed), my 5K equivalent is 20:00.  I think another few weeks and I’ll be ready for my sub-20!  I couldn’t be happier!