To finish of a strong year of running in 2009, I ran the Fairfax Four Miler on New Year's Eve. I had run the inaugural race last year and I really enjoyed it. Last year, the race was run during a wind advisory and the course had to be changed at the last minute due to a down power line. It had been changed to a one-mile loop run four times.
This year, the original course was used, but I had no experience with it due to last year's change. The weather was in the mid 30's and rainy. The forecast had been for freezing rain, so in the days leading up to the race I figured I might not actually run it. In fact, two days before the race, I ran an intense set of 5 x 1000m intervals at a 7:11 pace. Normally, I wouldn't do this so close to a race, but I was fairly certain that the freezing rain would deter me from participating.
On Thursday morning and throughout the day, it looked like it was going to be cold rain and not freezing rain, so my fiance and I decided to go for it. We shivered at the start line as the rain fell down on us. I did not have high expectations for myself. Based on the half marathon that I ran earlier in the month, I should have been able to run a 29:30. However, I excel at long distance races, and my shorter race distance times never "match up" to the equivalent McMillan predictions. Last year, I ran a 30:16, and I figured I would be lucky to do that well again.
The race started and I had a very difficult time weaving through people. My fiance was just behind me, but I lost him in the midst of all the people. We had started relatively close to the start line, and yet there were swarms of slower runners blocking the way. For the first three minutes, my pace averaged a 9:00. As soon as I had passed most of these runners, I just took off. I ran a 7:00 pace for the rest of that mile and ended up averaging 7:30. The next mile was the fastest, I ran it as hard as I could, although I had to occasionally slow down for pockets of ice on the road. We ran one lap around a track, which was a nice relief from the icy road. During that time, I was averaging about 7:12, and it felt great. I am fairly confident that if the race was held on that track I would have done significantly better. Mile 2 averaged 7:15. The next mile was a bit tougher for me with some large uphills that I wasn't expecting. I logged a 7:30. At the end of that mile, I felt very strong and and was prepared to really gun it in for the finish.
However, the hills continued. The last mile just murdered my time. The problem was that there were so many long hills that I hadn't anticipated. The last mile seemed to be all uphill! Normally, I make up some of my time on the downhills, but in this case, the road was wet and icy in places, so I was afraid to really give it my all on the downhills. I crossed the finish line at a disappointing 30:35. My fiance followed about 20 seconds later. He said he had kept me in sight until about the last half mile, when the largest hill came.
Although I wasn't happy with my time, I was pleased with my performance and how I felt. I felt very strong, I felt like I gave it all I had, and beating my fiance is no easy task. He recently murdered me in a 5K and a 10K, so I know I had to have put out a strong performance. Usually I like to measure my performance by age group ranking, but the results weren't presented in such a way that I could determine that. I placed 147 of 1095 runners, both male and female. I counted 27 females who finished ahead of me, but I have no idea how many total runners were female. Another thing that felt great about this race was that almost nobody passed me. I passed a bunch of runners in the beginning and that trend continued throughout the race. Often times, I would pick out people to pace off of during the uphills so as not to slow down, but then I would end up passing them. For this reason, I feel like I did very well, although the watch indicates otherwise.
Overall it was a very fun evening. Going into it, I wasn't all that excited about putting out a race effort in cold, rainy, dark conditions, but it was all worth it. My fiance and I went home to crab legs, champagne and Rock Band until we rang in the new year.