Yesterday was not a good day for a couple of the elite runners at the Twilight 4 Miler in Ashburn. I saw one elite guy walking and another curled up on the side of the road at the halfway point, puking into the median . Such are the risks of running fast when it’s hot.
It was hotter than Hell when the race started at 7pm. The promised storms did not arrive to clear the air, the sun was blazing, and the air was stifling. Still, these are normal conditions for this race. We sign up knowing it will most likely be disgustingly hot and sticky, and factor that in when we predict our race time. Who didn’t say, “This won’t be a PR.” ? (Although I think I may have PR’d because I’ve only run a 4 miler once before…)
One of the hardest things about evening races is figuring out what to eat during the day. When I lived in England most races, especially cross-country, were around 2 in the afternoon, and I remember stressing all day about what – and how much – I was eating. These days I focus on staying hydrated. My latest thing is coconut water which has a ton of potassium. I also drank a couple of cokes because they stave off the headaches I can get when it’s hot and humid. I think I did pretty well although my stomach did feel a bit heavy so I may have overdone it with the hot dog and chips, but I ate those for a little sodium boost. Really, I don’t like that kind of food at all. It’s a sacrifice I make for running.
This was my first time racing on the Potomac River Running Team so I was really nervous. I chewed all the nails off my right hand on the way to the race. (I was driving with my left hand or those nails would have been next…) I felt way out of my league in the PR singlet, especially when I saw Aaron Church, who’s also on the team (and who won the race). But then I saw Chris D in a PR singlet and – no offense, Chris – felt much better because I know I can keep up with him.
My only real strategies going into this race were:
1. Don’t go out too fast and die.
2. Don’t puke.
3. Run sub-7:00 pace.
As Meatloaf once said, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. What I didn’t manage was to run under a 7:00 pace, but I did run the first 3 miles around 6:50 before the final, gut-wrenching, puke-inducing uphill mile slowed me to a 7:03 overall.
I never really felt comfortable during the race. I couldn’t get into that groove I usually find after the first mile, and the race was over before I knew it. So far this year I’ve run two half marathons, one full marathon, and one 50K, so I guess it’s no surprise that I’m not really comfortable in a sprint at this point. Still, I managed to place 14th female and 3rd in my age group, so not too shabby for my first time on the prestigious PR team, which also won the team competition (of course)!
I questioned my sanity at 5:30 this morning when I got up to drive to Columbia, MD to bike the IronGirl course with a couple of TPR team mates. This course is a hilly little bugger, so it’s good to practice it a couple of times. But the day after a race? I figured I could always take it easy…ha ha ha.
I only made it a few hundred meters when I had to return to my car. I realized, when I felt a nice cool breeze flow through my hair, that I’d forgotten my helmet. There were a lot of bikers around so I’m really surprised no-one yelled at me! Helmet in place, I returned to the course and biked 26 miles, repeating the super-hilly part of the 17.5 mile course because I am glutton for punishment. Added bonus: the roads were littered with roadkill so I tried to not breathe in most of the time, the smell was so disgusting.
Surprisingly, when I got back to the car, my legs felt fresh so I thought I’d turn the ride into a brick and run part of the course. I ended up running 2.5 of the 3.3 mile route, avoiding the killer hill since I am not completely masochistic.
On the drive home I gave everyone a treat when I jumped out of the car wearing just a sports bra and boyshorts to retrieve my cell phone from the trunk. Nothing like waking a few people up on a Sunday morning!