Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fast times at RFYL's 4-Miler

UPDATE at 9:48 a.m. Monday: Looks like results have been adjusted, and that Lauren Tomory, 22, of Greenville, has been I.D.'d as the top female finisher with a time of 24:27. Val Matena, Danielle Walther, and Rebecca Thomason are now 2-3-4.

On the day Run For Your Life celebrated its 20th anniversary, hundreds of runners were celebrating PRs at the running store's annual summer 4-miler. Well, when I say "hundreds," I'm speculating. But given there are so few races at this distance in the Charlotte area, I think it's a fairly safe bet.

In all, nearly 700 men and women covered a rolling course in Dilworth on a mild, muggy Saturday morning at Run For Your Life's "Run For Your Cause 4-Miler."

I arrived about 45 minutes before the 7:30 a.m. start, parking a couple blocks further up Park Road in the lot that used to service the now-closed Bi-Lo supermarket. I noticed a solitary porta-potty by a lightpole, and briefly considered hitting that to avoid the lines in RFYL's lot. But as I was lacing up my Sauconys, I heard two cars drive over beer bottles and thought, You know, maybe I don't want to see what's inside a porta-potty that's sitting in a vacant lot.

Anyway, a few minutes later I was in front of RFYL, stopping to chat briefly with Charlotte Running Club chairman Aaron Linz, then Dave Harris from my running group. Grabbed the chip (10-second wait), hit the potty line (five-minute wait), and set off for a warmup.

Had hoped to get in 2 miles, since I hadn't run in four days (was resting a nagging IT band injury), but ran into Dave and three others from my group on the way up McDonald Avenue, so I U-turned to join them and wound up only getting in one. Stretched a little (not enough -- never enough), then stood around for 20 minutes shooting the breeze with various folks.

At about 7:25, lined up toward the front (probably too far toward the front, about 10-or-15-people-deep back) next to Kara Pettie. Kara's a Run For Your Life sales associate and my new arch-rival -- we ran the course together Monday; in May, I finished just four seconds ahead of her at the Great Harvest Bread 5K.

After Run For Your Life owner Tim Rhodes gave a nice welcome/"thank you for your support" speech to runners over a megaphone, the gun went off.

OK, as I said earlier in the week, this was my first four-mile race. (I'm not including the Krispy Kreme Challenge I ran in February. It was a four-miler, but it was split in two, with all. those. doughnuts. in between.) I vowed -- as I always do -- not to go out too fast ... and I didn't.

Well, I didn't ... but I maybe kinda did at the same time. See, I was shooting for a 7:10 overall pace. My first mile was 7:07. BUT the first eight-tenths of a mile were all uphill on McDonald. Nothing steep, yet I probably was pushing a little too hard, since exertion for a 7:07 on a climb is probably equal to ... well, less, on a flat stretch.

About halfway up McDonald, another running-group pal, Chris Sammons, came up from behind and said "hey." He's a big guy -- I don't mean he's tubby, rather that he's tallish and sturdily built. So after it became clear in the first mile that I might be able to hang with him, I settled in just a couple steps behind him in the hopes that he'd cut down some of my wind resistance. :)

I stayed with him for awhile, through the quick drop and quick steep climb on Euclid Avenue, then through Mile 2, the long, gradual downhill along East Boulevard. We took a right and headed back into the neighborhoods at Charlotte Drive, and my Garmin ticked off a 7:10 split for Mile 2.

Now, for some reason, Mile 3 kicked my butt. There were some minor rollers, but nothing bad. But this is where Chris started pulling away a little. I just felt suddenly gassed. (No, not gassy.) You've run enough races, you probably know the feeling: This is the point at which you start wondering whether you should have eaten a tiny bit more, or whether you should have grabbed a cup of water at the last stop (I hadn't). It's the point where you have the overwhelming urge to Get It Over With. I kept expecting Kara to pass me, but ... she didn't, and I trucked on.

Finally the gassed (no, not gassy) feeling passed, and I started mentally prepping for the climb on Lyndhurst in the early part of Mile 4. It's steep, but it's short, and after clearing it I got a second wind as I turned back onto McDonald for the last seven-tenths of a mile. I picked up the pace -- maybe a little too much -- backed off right before the final drop (where Chris pulled away for good), then started the kick as soon as the finish line popped into view on the final bend.

I crossed in 29:11 -- 13 seconds behind Chris and 32 ahead of Kara.

My Garmin actually had the distance at slightly longer than 4 miles, so my splits don't quite add up, but here they are (off the watch): 7:07, 7:10, 7:28, 7:09. That darn third mile...

At least I wasn't alone. Later in the morning, as the Facebook statuses started popping up, others were relaying similar experiences. (Butch, who ran a 35:23: "My 3rd mile I was feeling tired and it was my slowest mile. I think the last mile was my fastest." Brandon, who ran a 28:11: "Got a little lazy at mile 3 but ran a solid 4th mile." Jason, who ran a 32:21: "mile 3 jumped me as well. Not sure what the deal was with that. I think I was trying to save too much trying to pace for 4 miles instead of a 5K.")

The Fahrenheit was about 70 at the start, with the humidity hovering around 80 percent. It was mostly overcast, which helped ward off the feeling of being overheated -- but the humidity still had whole lotta runners crossing the finish line in sopping-wet shirts.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to soak up much of the post-race atmosphere -- or drink up any of the free post-race beer -- because I had to take some friends to the airport. :( ... So please post if you have anything to say about the post-race goings-on!

But I can tell you that the race T-shirt is indeed great: 100 percent breathable polyester, Asics-branded, with "Run For Your Life: 20 Years Running" on the front and the race logo on the back. No other advertising. Men's is white, women's is pink (and actually cut for women's figures). I'm pretty sure RFYL would charge $20 or so for something like this; I paid $17 to register for the race. Very cool.

Anyway, I had a great time PRing out there, and hope you did, too!

Me, at right, with University City Road Runners members (from left to right) Melissa Lewellyn (running for two!), Stacey Hien, Dave Harris, Eric Reiner and Brian Sammons.

Top 4-Miler finishers

Bert Rodriguez, 29, of Arlington, was the overall male winner in 20:38. There was a near-photo finish for the two and three spots: Jay Holder, a nice guy and a killer runner (obviously), finished in 21:30; Alejandro Arreola finished just one second behind him.

On the women's side, Val Matena, 23, of Charlotte, was the overall winner with a time of 24:37. Danielle Walther, who I profiled earlier this week, finished second in 24:55. And a new Facebook buddy of mine, Rebecca Thomason placed third in 25:21.

For complete Run For Your Life Run For Your Cause 4 Miler results, click here.


Jason said...

Great job on the run today. I sat out with a sore knee and a cold I've been fighting for several days now. I ran that race last year and I too remember Mile 3 being the toughest. I enjoyed your post. Keep up the good work!

Richard Hefner said...

PR for me also -- 28:38 -- and the third mile was my slowest too although I didn't notice it until you mentioned it (7:21, 6:53, 7:26, and 6:55). All of that downhill in the last mile was nice.

Allen said...

Theoden's race description mirrored my run almost exactly. My splits: 6:51, 6:54, 7:27, 7:16. I was shooting for a sub-28:00 but only managed a 28:29.

The post-race celebration was great. Note to self: limit myself to 3 beers next time. Just now waking up from the post-race-celebration nap.

chicken said...

YO!! oh my oh my - that 3rd mile. yes, it was my slowest and hardest by far. and seeing as my house was in that mile... i had to fully restrain myself from veering off and hitting the sofa to lick my wounds. ouch 3rd mile, ouch. you won... HA! very cool race report, love your blogs!! thanks for the friending and thanks for the mention! :)

rebecca said...

oh sorry, meant to sign that last comment - it is me, rebecca - aka... chicken :) i guess the oxygen still hasn't returned to my brain. not that there is much to fuel up there anyway.. HA!

amlinz said...

3rd mile was my slowest too but thinking back on it was it the hillest or did we all sort of drift off on that mile? Lauren Tomory, a new-comer to Charlotte was actually 2nd. She registered, she ran, she forgot to put her chip on her shoe. Rookie mistake:) She will be at the top of the next couple races. LOVED the description of the race. I was doing house work all afternoon when I got back from the race and really enjoyable to sit down for a few minutes and read this blog.

Paul Sanna said...

I found the course sneaky-hilly too. And I agree with everyone - mile 3 was tough for some reason. I also posted a PACE-PR. I have never run faster at any distance, greater or smaller.

Theoden, I was the guy that commented on how often you write. Your blog is easily the best part of

Anonymous said...

I think the third mile is a bit deceptive. While it doesn't have any hills, it's actually all at a slight incline. Because it's slight, you don't realize your pace is slowing.

Big Baller said...

Great job out there everyone, I was on my bike cheering people along the course, no racing for me this Saturday. Everyone ran a slow 3rd mile as they do every year, no biggie.
I was wondering what happened w/the results, I saw Val win the race but the results has her second, oh well it happens that way sometimes. GREAT JOB EVERY BODY!