Monday, June 18, 2012

Race Report -- Charlottesville Men's 4-Miler

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...


Trina said...

Nice run Ken! I used to always enjoy the Charlottesville Women's 4 miler when I went to school there.

Trina said...

Nice RR Ken! I used to always run the C'ville Women's 4 miler when I went to school there. Fun race, and good on you for PRing while doing the Z1 work. (Catherine G from Debi's list :)