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Friday, July 6, 2018

I'll just never be fourth

Ah, one of my favorite holiday traditions: piling into the car, driving across the lake, and running Four on the Fourth!
This race is unique in that the fourth place finishers win the top awards, a nice consolation for finishing in what is usually the most dreaded place. It's a place I've finished many times myself, but for some reason, it's just never going to happen at this race. The one time it counts!

Wednesday morning David and I hitched a ride with a car full of Power Milers up to Covington. It's about an hour's drive (including 26 miles on the causeway over Lake Ponchartrain), although that morning we made excellent time thanks to empty roads. We arrived at about 6:50, plenty of time to register (race day registration is $35, just $30 for the no-T-shirt option), use the bathroom, and warm up before the 7:30 am start. It wasn't a terrible day, only 80 - 85 degrees during the race, but also 88% humidity. We were soaked after a 2 mile warm up. We headed to the starting line in plenty of time, and soon we were off, surrounded by fire works along the course, per race tradition.

My race plan was to run 6:40, 6:40, 6:35, 6:30 - or as fast as I could. In retrospect, that wasn't a brilliant plan, because shouldn't I be faster than that?! But I think the humidity just had me setting my sights low. And then I ended up even slower in reality!

So anyway. The first mile was mostly me being passed by people who would almost certainly slow RIGHT down by mile two, so I tried to just ignore them. I was probably 6th or 7th for much of mile one, but I knew for sure I'd place no higher than third, since I had seen two much-faster local ladies at the start. There was a surprising number of runners hanging on to their pace through mile one. My Garmin beeped at 6:38 for mile one. But somehow, I messed mile two all up. It was WAY too slow! I think it was a combination of a hairpin turn plus the fact that everyone around me was starting to slow down, but I ran mile two far off my pace in 6:45. But it might have also been all the drama - because I was purposefully clipped in mile two. IN A ROAD RACE. IN COVINGTON.

During mile two, I was beginning to pass plenty of people who were slowing down, including a woman I didn't know. I passed her, no big deal, but as soon as I did, she sped up behind me and forcefully jostled me, then stormed ahead. Huh?! There was no reason for there to be any contact at all during this race - it is a wide road and there is not that large of a crowd. Bizarre. I blurted an apology out of habit, although later I reflected that really, she should have apologized! It was incredibly odd. Meanwhile, I had other distractions: ahead of us, a garbage truck pulled out of a side street and, ignoring volunteers, lumbered onto the course. I then ran half a mile directly behind a stinky garbage truck. Boy, was I glad to turn around, and no wonder my split was slow!

There is a water stop right before the start of mile 3, and I passed Clipping Girl there. Now I could see a couple of guys in front of me to chase down! Mile three should have been a 6:35, but I was off: 6:37. I had heavy legs, no snap - I didn't feel bad at all, everything was just more work than it should have been. I ended up passing several guys in the final two miles, including one of my teammates (I actually finished ahead of two teammates, so perhaps I am actually starting to acclimate?). My final mile I tried to push a little harder, but I was in a lonely no-man's land with no one pulling me, and I was firmly third female. The race is basically an out and back, but it ends with a turn around the block. I used that opportunity to search for the fourth-place woman, but she was out of eyesight. So much for fourth place! I finished with an uninspiring 6:32, so I ended up seven seconds over my predicted finish, and actually about the same pace as a four-mile tempo I ran a few weeks ago (26:33 for 4 miles). So either the humidity was really getting to me, or I was still tired from Saturday's race and the miles I'd run the night before.
Finish line

Besides the slow legs thing, I felt great for this race, and I like how I've been managing to negative split (or almost negative split) races lately. Such good practice! And I feel so much better afterwards! Although I do think that trying to negative split can make me run accidentally slow times: I still need practice.

 Little Ms. Clipper was 30 seconds behind me and fourth, and won a pair of shoes -  hardly her just desserts given her behavior. But so what. I won a coffee cup, just as good! We hung around for awards and for the beer mile. I was on a relay team, and while my beer-chugging leaves MUCH to be desired, I ran the following 400 meters in 82 seconds, which is pretty good considering that I had already run ten miles that morning, four of which were a race, and had a foamy Budweiser in my stomach. 

Opening that beer!
This race is a little crazy: it's an all-day event, with festivities including a donut eating contest and a kids' hula hoop competition. But I just love it. It's one of my favorite race, and darn it! One day I will be fourth!

1 comment:

  1. Wow that woman was rude. There’s no reason to display that kind of behavior. I believe in race karma, though, so hopefully she will be on the receiving end of rude behavior in the near future.

    I can’t imagine racing and running that fast in those conditions. It’s been like that here lately and I don’t even like to go for stroller walks in this weather... but Paul overheats so easily.