Fairfax Four Miler Race Recap

In a somewhat last minute move I signed up to run the Pacers Fairfax Four Miler on New Year’s Eve.  I had been thinking about it for a while, but not knowing what my plans were for the evening and knowing it was a little ways away from home I held off.

Finally about a week out I decided I really wanted to end my year with a race.  Ok, so not exactly, I ended the year dancing with friends in DC, but close enough.

I have done a few of Pacers races in the past: George Washington Parkway Classic and their Crystal City 5k Fridays.  They are always well organized and on point, not to mention the awesome swag.  The Fairfax Four Miler was no different.

I decided to do packet pick-up right before the event since it was about a 30 minute drive from my house. This was the easiest packet pick-up of my life I’m sure.  Less than 5 minutes in and out which gave me plenty of time to make my way back to my car to store my amazing race swag:

My new favorite sweatshirt! It is so soft & comfy.

My new favorite sweatshirt! It is so soft & comfy.

I was amazed at how many people came out for this race.  They mentioned it was a record, I want to say over 1500 but I might be remembering wrong!  Regardless it got a little crowded at the start.

Before it got packed!

Before it got packed!

It's hard to tell from behind but the guy was wearing a tux and the lady an evening dress!

It’s hard to tell from behind but the guy was wearing a tux and the lady an evening dress!

The course was also super crowded in the beginning, not to mention a bit dark. I thought Pacers did a great job of having lights out where they could and as soon as you get to the George Mason University part the course really opens up nicely.  I did have one mishap in a  construction zone where I stepped on some gravel wrong and rolled my ankle (yep I have been wearing a brace for it since).  What cracked me up was less than 500 feet ahead there was an industrial light after the construction zone. (whoops!)

It was super fun to hear all of the race support staff and runners shouting “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” and encouraging each other.  I especially loved the families that were out running together.  One particular boy who couldn’t have been older than six kept correcting his dad’s running form “Dad, your shoulders are by your ears” “ok” “Dad, I’m just saying you aren’t supposed to run like that”.  It was adorable and hilarious, maybe not for the dad but for me!  Needless to say I was glad I ran without music or headphones for this one.

Just after I rolled my ankle.  That's my "uh oh" face.

Just after I rolled my ankle. That’s my “uh oh” face.           

I was pleasantly surprised by how good I felt, and how fun it was to be out doing a night race again!  I haven’t done one since the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in 2013.  After finishing in 45:17 which is speedy for me I got some water and headed into line for the pizza!  I’m telling you between the awesome sweatshirt, the well staffed and managed logistics, the fun atmosphere, and the pizza this race was well worth the entry fee.  Not to mention one of my favorite things about a new distance: guaranteed PR!

So kudos to Pacers, all the runners, volunteers, and spectators for an awesome and fun last run of 2014!

Keep it fun & fierce!

-Little Red

Did you run on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day?  What’s your favorite piece of race swag?

George Washington Parkway Classic Race Recap

On April 13th I participated in Pacers 30th annual George Washington Parkway Classic 10 mile race. This is a point to point race which starts at Mount Vernon (George Washington’s home) and ends in Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront. Considering the finish line is less than a mile from by apartment building I felt like I had no excuse not to run it, so I signed up fully planning to have Triple A run with me.

A few things happened to mess up my plan. My diagnosis of Graves’ Disease and Hyperthyroidism basically shut down my training until about 3 weeks before. Then Triple A and I realized he had a matinee performance of Reefer Madness that day in Maryland and running the race would be cutting it too close time wise.

I debated not going or changing to the shorter 5k distance they offered, but I finally decided I would at least start and worse comes to worse the bus would pick me up.

Packet pick up was a breeze at the Old Town Alexandria Pacers location.  It took me less than 5 minutes including finding parking, free parking at that, which must be an unheard of feat in Old Town until now!

Packet Pick Up Goodies

Packet Pick Up Goodies (bear not included)

I received my race day bib with gear check number and beverage ticket attached, safety pins, an information pamphlet, and the race tech t-shirt all enclosed in the clear plastic gear check bag.

Then came the day of the race: far sooner than I would have liked considering my training predicament.

I opted to take the provided runner transportation buses to the race start and planned to walk home from the finish.  I arrived at about 6:30 and was immediately put on a bus. The drive felt so long and I did my best not to think about it and focus on the beautiful sunrise along the parkway.

We arrived at the start area at Mount Vernon about an hour before race time.  It was beautiful but COLD and I was thrilled they had mylar blankets, coffee, bagels, and water at the start area (especially since I forgot to eat before I left… thanks nerves!)

Sunrise at Mount Vernon

Sunrise at Mount Vernon

Beautiful day to Run!!!

Beautiful day to Run!!!

 

I quickly got a mylar blanket, grabbed about half a plain bagel & water, and headed over to the gear check area provided by Two Men & a Truck.

Gear check was quick and efficient so I headed for the porta potties and discovered the longest line I have ever seen.  No really ever. Despite waiting about 25 minutes I made it back to the start with out 15 minutes to spare.

My least favorite part of any race ever happened next, and might very well be reason alone I will most likely never run this race again. Despite all the posting and over emphasizing about busses NOT running after the cut off time there were still busses coming into the round about/race corrals as the race was supposed to start (even with a 7 minute race delay).  We were never told to get in corrals, how the corrals were working and then I was crowded up against a MOVING bus as people tried to get into the area to start the race.  Talk about dangerous! Thankfully a very burly man helped me get to the other side since he could see I was freaked out. Poor planning Pacers.  For the $75 entry fee I expected to not almost get hit by a bus.

Once we got started I ran that first mile QUICK.  I just wanted to get away from that awful experience and wasn’t sure if the busses would have to come after us to get where they needed to go!

The race course is beautiful, stunning, and breathtaking at times as it runs right along the Potomac River. There are very few spectators, I saw maybe 10 total, so it was a nice run to focus on my thoughts and just keep truckin’.

I was feeling pretty good and was running by feel for the 1st half of the race.  But as the temps went up with the sun, and the gradual rolling hills got a bit bigger I started having to run by heart rate.  Part of the challenge of my hyperthyroidism is my elevated heart rate which hasn’t quite evened out with treatment.  I looked down around mile 6 and noticed I was running at 100% of my max heart rate! I immediately walked the next .5 miles or so.  I have been using this method throughout Insanity training but it was so different using it on a run and eventually it started to feel limiting and I got a little frustrated.

Then all the sudden I was in the final stretch, and after high fiving the cutest  kid everyone else was too busy running past I picked it up for the last half mile.  One of the men who already finished was .1 miles away from this finish yelling at us to “Dig Deeper!” and I just about lost it laughing but hey if Shaun T wants to help me finish a 10 miler I’ll take it.

I crossed the finish line and was handed a cool spinning 30th anniversary medal, given water, and an awesome snack box. I thought about grabbing a beer but the line was too much and I had a full day ahead of me. I think if Triple A was there I might have stayed at the finish line festival a little longer.

I did it! Despite no training I did it!

I did it! Despite no training I did it!

The results came out that afternoon and I found out I had run a 1:57:39 an average of 11:46 min miles.

To say I was shocked considering I had no training except Insanity and the Crystal City 5k’s I was THRILLED! My goal was just to finish, but I walked out a finisher, proving I won’t let my autoimmune disorder hold me back, and with a PR (since I had never run a 10 mile race, but it counts). Best of all I didn’t get picked up by the bus!

Overall the race course was a great experience.  If Pacers can fix the start line and corral issues I would consider running it again, until then I’ll stick with running the nearby trail on my own.

Hope you are keeping it fit, fabulous & fierce!

-Little Red