Posted by: Drew | December 11, 2007

Flying Feather Four Miler: Race Report

All three of you have waited patiently for my report of this freezing day (or maybe you haven’t, I guess I’m assuming you have), so here goes.

Since my half marathon in October, I’ve been hurting.  Some of the hurt preceded the race, and some may have resulted from the race itself.  Whatever the cause, I was in some pain.  I have pain in my right psoas muscle that flares up from time to time, depending on the activity.  I also had (I think I’ve finally kicked this one) pain on the outside of my right foot which made hard striding feel something between achy and excruciatingly painful, depending on the day.  With all this taken into account, I did very little recovery running between the half and the Thanksgiving Day four mile race (I just checked, it was only 17 miles in that month between races).

With my lack of training leading up to Turkey Day, I didn’t really know what my plan was going to be.  Part of it depended on the weather: if it was decent outside (over 45), I might think about a PR even though I hadn’t trained much; if not, I was just going to try and enjoy the run.  The week leading up to the race was fairly nice, with temps soaring into the high 60’s.  But the 24 hours before the event saw the temperature plummet.  Waking up on Thursday, I checked the digital thermometer and saw a reading of 35 degrees, and it looked very windy outside.  Yikes!

I (foolishly) decided to be a superhero about the whole thing, and wore shorts.  Even though I was wearing two long sleeve shirts, a hat, and gloves, the shorts made me question my sanity.  Three months prior, I was having to run after 10 PM to avoid 90 degree days, and now I was dressing for a windy run with near freezing temps.  In shorts.

The crew showed up to the house (I was running with my wife Cheryl, buddy Cletus, Dad, and WSM), we packed up and drove the 20 minutes or so to the parking area.  This was the same site as the Cinco de Mayo Cuatro Miler, and that race had about 400-600 people entered and the parking was a bit of a nightmare.  With 2000+ people in the Flying Feather, it was even worse.  By the time we showed up to the parking lot, we had to park on the fields at the school.  No big deal, but it had poured rain the previous two days and we might as well have run a cross country course.  On top of this, we had to wait a few minutes for a shuttle bus to take us to the start line.  Did I mention I was wearing shorts?!?  If the rain had not come through the previous days, I probably would have jogged the 3/4 mile to the start line.  But between not wanting to soak my shoes prematurely and not sure my legs would permit me to run much more than four miles, I stood shivering waiting for the bus.

We caught the second bus (I think) that arrived and they deposited us at the start line.  I checked my watch, and we still had about 20-25 minutes until the start.  I’m still wearing shorts.  Dad and WSM slide over to take a bit shelter from the wind by backing up to the building.  Cletus heads inside the spa to hit the head before the gun, and Cheryl (who was dressed significantly more appropriately than I) stuck with me as I stood right out in the middle of it all.  Why did I do that?  Because I’m a badass.  A badass wearing shorts.  Or is that a dumbass wearing shorts?

Then the snowflakes start falling.  Awesome! 

Not really.

The crowd lines up behind the start line, they play the Star Spangled Banner (dear yuppie Dublin moms, it’s okay to shut up and put your hand over your heart and sing.  Show a little respect.), and we’re off.  I still hadn’t outwardly vocalized my plan, but I knew I was going to go out hard and see what happens, if only to finish quickly and stay warm.  I hadn’t done any warmup, so I was literally starting cold in more ways than one.  This didn’t prove to be a major problem, thankfully.  The first two miles were into a headwind.  Not cool.  My gloves, which had kept me warm on every other cold weather run I’ve done, were rendered useless as a warming device as the wind sliced right through them.  As the course entered Glacier Ridge Park, we went from a two-lane road with plenty of room to a 10-15 foot wide asphalt path and quite a bit of crowding. 

I’m not known for my patience on the race course.

Despite my desire to keep my feet dry, I spent about half of my time in the park running in the grass, going around slower runners.  Now I’m not fast by any means, so I line up about halfway back in the crowd for most runs.  But I fail to understand why, if you know you are going to walk the entire way, you start at the tape?  I’m still passing people walking 1.5 miles in, and it’s starting to make me mad.  At least I think so, because I’m pretty sure the cold had shut my body down to only the most basic survival mechanisms and leg moving.  Okay, rant over.

Finally, at about two miles, we turn away from the wind and it feels like the temp raised about 15 degrees.  I was plenty warm, now.  The mile markers were little signs on the path, which explains why I missed every one of them.  I was okay with this, though, as it enabled me to run by feel instead of being a slave to the clock.  I was pushing a bit, but not as hard as I could have.  I was thinking during the run that I haven’t trained enough to feel comfortable ramping the effort up to 10 during a race.  I don’t do it enough in training to know how much gas I have in the tank, and I’d be afraid of not getting through a race with that effort.  Also, not knowing precisely how much distance remained to cover, I didn’t know when I could turn on the jets.  I have something to work on for next year, now.

When I figured there was about one mile to go, I picked it up a bit.  I was starting to get cold again, but I put it out of my mind by looking at people ahead of me and picking them off one by one.  I love these little mini-accomplishments, as they take just enough time to feel good about it, and piling on one after another really ramps up your confidence to keep going.  We exit the park and I’m figuring it’s less than 800 meters to go.  For some reason, whenever I know there’s less than a mile to go, I mentally calculate distance in meters or laps around a track.  It makes it seem very doable to me.  With “two laps” remaining, I pull out what little kick I have and go.  I just want to be done.  My psoas is starting to burn, my feet hurt, my nose is freezing, and I’m hungry.  Let’s go!

I make the final turn and see that while I’m not going to PR at the distance, it’s still a good race.  Crossing the finish line at 34:36, I feel very good about it.  It’s good enough for 441 of 1919 overall, 284 of 840 males, and 35 of 79 in my age group.  The rest of the crew did well also, and within a few hours of finishing we were all filling up on turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes.

I’d really liked to have trained better for this race, but given the circumstances I think I did well.  It was a milestone race for me, in that it was the first time I’d ever ran a race and not PR’ed.  That’s not saying much, since I’ve only done a few races in my life, but the reason I feel it stands out is that I wasn’t disappointed and I learned some things from the race.  Not the least of which is that I probably shouldn’t have worn shorts.

After the Four Miler, I’m taking time off from running for one month in the hopes that my foot and psoas will heal and I can start 2008 healthy.  As of this writing (December 11th), my foot feels great but I’m still having some issues with my psoas.  Hopefully I will have things worked out as the end of my mega-rest nears.

Thanks for reading the race report, I hope it was worth the wait.  See you out there (in a couple weeks, anyway)

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Responses

  1. Very nice race report, worth the wait!

    …I don’t understand while walkers line up at the front. Not that I am a fast runner, not even close, but the beginning of those races always feel like a big slalom course to me.

    …I think I was the only one singing when the national anthem was played. Kinda sad.

    …I didn’t care for the fact that we had to funnel through the starting area, made it very congested, but I did enjoy running through the park vs. last year we ran through a halfway developed neighorhood.

    Hopefully the months rest will give your body the time to recuperate and go back at it strong next year. Looking forward to reading about it. Happy Holidays!


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