The Charlottesville Men's 4-Miler is growing local tradition. This little brother of the Women's 4-Miler draws a very competitive local field and features a finish line on the 50-yard line of the University of Virginia football stadium. If you remember to look up, you can see yourself on the giant TV screen behind the end zone. It supports prostate cancer research at UVA -- a cause I can get behind, since my father died of prostate cancer at age 59.
I hadn't done a foot race for some time, since I'd missed a couple
of my regular spring races because of illness. Combined with the near
total lack of any training outside of z1 during the last few months, I
was uncertain as to how the race would go. On the plus side, I felt
healthy, was coming off an easy week, and had dropped about 5 pounds and
one inch off my waist line during the last month -- a combination of
better eating choices and lots of endurance work.
One thing for certain -- I knew this was going to hurt. Short races
always do. And my strategy was simple -- hold back just a bit on the
first mile then pick it up and go home hard.
As the gun went off
I struggled to stay with my plan. I hit the first 1/2 mile at 3:10, but
throttled down a little bit to hit mile 1 in 6:28. I was working hard,
but at lest I wasn't in distress. By this time the field had shaken
itself out into the usual arrangement of packs and we jostled around for
position. My aerobic conditioning was in evidence -- I fell behind on
each hill, as I shortened my stride and concentrated on quick turnover,
but I crested stronger than my competitors and made up the gap on the
subsequent flat or downhill.
Mile 2 came in at 6:30, as we finished the uphills of the first half
of the race. That quick first mile was telling now, and I started
trying to to concentrate on a few keys to keep my form together -- "stay
smooth," "arms up," "breath into the belly." Fortunately I was keeping
pace with my pack, who were starting to look a little ragged themselves.
The strain was telling as mile 3 passed in 6:46. I knew there were
some serious downhills coming, so I just had to hang together for
another 6 minutes and change. As we looped around the football stadium I
took advantage of the downhills and started moving up past the pack. As
we entered the depths of the stadium I gave it my final kick down the
tunnel and onto the turf. I sneaked a glance over my shoulder and saw
nobody behind me for at least 20 yards. A quick glance up at the
jumbotron and a two-arms-in-the-air salute to cap off the effort as I
crossed the line.
I knocked the last mile out in 6:36, for a 26:20 -- a PR by nearly
20 seconds. Nice to see all that z1 IM prep paying off in a unexpected
way. The only downer of the day was that I didn't place. I snagged 6 of
44 in my AG, beaten by four 50-year olds and a guy who was 51 -- all of
whom came in under 26 minutes. Man, am I looking forward to 55-59...