Custom Search

Monday, July 6, 2015

Not-even-close-to-four on the fourth

We love driving the hour up to Covington for the Fifteenth Street Flyer's annual Independence Day race. It's a fun four miler followed by beer, watermelon, bizarre feats of endurance (this year there was a push-ups contest and a donut-eating contest, among other offerings), and - the highlight of the day - the bikini beer mile.
I always forget how little traffic there is on a holiday morning: we got to Covington in 50 minutes, a good 15 minutes earlier than I'd planned. That gave us time to pick up our swag bags, which are still real, actual swag bags, the kind you just don't see at races anymore. Besides a tank-top (my favorite kind of race T-shirt), we got a flag, some notepads, two koozies, and sunglasses in our bags.

It was very muggy, but even being one hour north of the city brings a drop in temperature. It was in the low to mid 80's at the start and pleasantly overcast.
I did not really get a warm-up in. I waited too long, then I started talking, then I just did a short jog. I have been doing strides before races, which I like to do, but I skipped that today. I knew I'd just run 6:30's for 2 miles, so I thought 6:40's would be doable.
I lined up and looked around. I didn't recognize a lot of runners, since this is not a New Orleans race, but my friend Melissa was there. She's usually about my pace or faster. The "gun" for the race is string of fireworks, and soon we were off - ears covered!
Mile 1: It dawned on my as we started running that the course had changed from previous years and now the chatter I'd been hearing about construction in the area and course maps made sense. I'd prepared for an out-and-back with a strong headwind after the turn-around, but this was more a series of turns in the nearby neighborhoods. I was running 7:00 for the first quarter mile, and as the race thinned I picked it up a little. I started passing women. I didn't like how this was looking - I don't like being close to the front, but it seemed that most of these runners had started too fast. By the first mile, I'd caught up to Melissa, and was running close behind her.
Mile 2: I followed Melissa closely for the entire second mile. I didn't want to pass her, because I didn't want to lead, but I didn't want to breath down her neck, either. Because that's rude. We turned around a cone and she was now just steps ahead of me.
Mile 3: At the turnaround, I saw another young girl close to Melissa and I. I looked at my Garmin and realized that Melissa's pace was off now; I had to pass her. I ran side by side for awhile, then passed her quickly. Now we were seeing others running the opposite way, and I was hearing "First female!" but also, "Go ladies!" so I knew I had company. I didn't know how close, though!
When the mile 3 sign came up I was confused - it seemed way short. I scrolled my Garmin and yeah...that was not three miles.
Last part: The last part is the worst part. By the time I had passed Melissa, the race was almost over. I felt very good, and started thinking about speeding up. Then...I turned the corner and saw a finish line. No one was in front of me. And I was so confused. We were coming up to the park where the race starts on the right. Normally, with the old course, you ended the last quarter mile by looping around the park, and I thought surely that was the case here, too - we must turn right, go around the park, then finish. No way was this the end of the race - we weren't anywhere close to 4 miles! I started veering right and one of my friends, who'd already finished, was shouting, "Pick it up!" and I was all, "Huh?" Until a girl sped past me and across the line. That was the finish, right in front of me, no turning and looping around the park. The race was over, and I was second, with no time to even think about a burst of speed at the end. I finished confused, not at all out-of-breath, and kicking myself for not paying better attention.
The race was 3.75 on my Garmin - nowhere near 4 miles. If it had been 3.9 maybe I would have realized we were finishing,  but a full quarter short?! I was so sure we'd loop the park! Should have looked at the course map, and should have realized that a girl had been gaining on me. Totally the worst way to finish to be passed in the last seconds!
Post-race sweaty picture. Nice and overcast, at least! 
- My pace overall was 6:39, and I am happy with that, but in retrospect I could have gone faster. I didn't put enough effort into the race, and never felt tired, sick, or miserable like you should in a short race, haha. I think my 6:30's at the last 2-mile race were a little slow due to speed work that morning, so I should have aimed for 6:35 or even 6:30 for the 4-miler.
- I ran almost exactly even splits, slightly negative.
- Being passed at the finish sucks, but lesson learned - read the course map, and be aware of surroundings (hard to do when you are leading, btw).
- My age group award (they only do first and fourth overall and age group) was a bandana and a keychain made on a 3-D printer - they just churn out as many as they need! Kind of cool!
3-D printer amazingness. I bet we look back at this in a few years and marvel
at how bad the 3-D printing technology was way back in 2015.
- Everyone wears red, white, and blue to this race (in fact, there is a costume contest) but I did love my outfit! The new Coeur shorts are thinner material, which is great for summer. The tank top was actually perfect - light and cool. I'd wear it again for a race.


  1. Gah! I can imagine the frustration, I'd have been peeved about the course being so short. I can't relate to your frustration of having 1F stolen at the last second, but I can imagine... Strong race regardless!

  2. Great job! How annoying to get passed right at the end, especially when you had more...but what a good feeling to be running so strong. :)

  3. Dang, that would suck!!!! You're much faster than you're letting on right now ... I mean, those are really good splits, especially for backing off a little. Great job on almost being the first female overall, that's a great race!

    1. Except not first. And if you're not first, you're last.

    2. I like what you did there with the Talladega Nights quote. :)

  4. Great race, but UGH!!!!!! Very cute 4th shirt.

  5. It's always a good race when there's a nugget to learn, yes? Well done; I think that's super fast and 2nd isn't chopped liver :). Congratulations!

  6. Ahhhh what a bummer! Still, though. No way you could have predicted a course that short. Sounds like you are picking up some speed!!

  7. Love your shirt!

    Were your ears burning this morning? The group of girls I was running with were asking about who won the race. I was all, "Oh, I follow a super-talented running blogger named Grace who finished second and said the course was way short." Look at me name dropping... Yeah, they knew who you were, you fast lady. Just a matter of time before you're kicking everyone's butt at the NOTC races. Great job!

  8. Ugh, that's such a pain! I'd be so mad if I knew I had gas in the tank, didn't know a course was short, and got passed in the last bit. At least the race shirt is cute!

  9. My 4th of July course changed too - lots of ppl not happy about it. But that keychain is cool!!!

  10. That stinks being passed in the final stretch. But, great pacing either way!