My First Race!

I finally know what all the fuss is about! I ran the Charlottesville Women's Four-Miler for the first time today. It was my first road race ever, and I enjoyed it.

While I enjoyed the race, I'm not at all sure that I will participate again, at least not anytime soon. Dragging T and the kids out of the house at 5:30am was a disaster-- not at the time, but a few hours later and for the rest of the day. As it was, it was raining when the race began, so they were in the car and not even cheering me on. Cate, my diehard friend, DID stand out in the rain with an umbrella to cheer me on, so that was heartening. She even got a picture of me waving during the first half-mile, which I'll post here later this weekend.

My legs are still sore. I'm not sure if it was because I ran faster than I usually do, or if it is because I was running on pavement instead of gravel. I finished 1475 over all (out of 2853), and 182 out of 383 in my age division. My goal was to finish in the middle of the pack, and I met my goal.

It was significantly different than running alone. When I run around my neighborhood with he kids, I set whatever sort of pace I feel like on any given day, and when I want to speed up, I speed up, and when I want to slow down, I slow down. Today's race was so crowded that it was not so easy. Sometimes I'd feel like running faster, but there were slow groups of runners in front of me, and I'd have to wait for an opportunity to pass. Clumps of runners would take up the entire width of the road. I had expected this, although I had not expected to need to pass so many people. I had lined up in the appropriate pace group (12 minute section), and I kind of thought more people would run at a steadier pace. But it was really all over the map. So the difficulty in passing was definitely the biggest nuisance of the race.

The biggest surprise of the race for me was how fast some of the little old ladies were walking! They were walking, and smoking past joggers. I complemented one on her brisk walking pace-- I had been absentmindedly jogging behind her for a minute or two, then I awoke from my daze to notice she was WALKING. So I got my act together and sped up.

It was also a pleasant surprise how many groups were along the race route cheering everyone on. Not just along the start and finish line, but many of he residents who live on Garth Road set up little cheering parties on the ends of their driveways. I appreciated that.

I did not wear my mp3 player although I did notice some other runners had them. I did not really miss the music since there was enough to look around at and listen to with the other runners and the spectators that I didn't get bored during the race.

The pavement was definitely harder on my feet than the gravel, but I didn't get blisters or anything, I just noticed that it felt hard. On the other hand, the hill everyone warned me about was nothing compared to what I usually run. The long hill actually seemed pretty similar to the long uphill mile in my regular route. The race hill was actually longer uphill, but it was gradual he whole way. The one I'm used to has an extremely steep spot to finish. And there is a long AND steep hill on my route when I go the full four miles (I routinely only do a 3-mile route). So I did not have any trouble with the hills today. I really didn't think that I would, since I have been sprinting up gravel hills pushing 50+ pounds in a stroller all summer, but it was a nice confirmation of my training strategy when the hills were a non-issue for me this morning. Seriously, if anyone wants to float up hills, spend time pushing toddlers in front of you while sprinting up them, it will do the trick.

I had only a slim idea of my pace from when the volunteers would call out the time at each mile. I'm pretty bad at math while running, but it seemed like I was keeping it in the vicinity of 13 minutes per mile and I was ok with that. I could only see the right hand digits of the clock as I ran toward the finish line, and I was disappointed when I saw the "9.xx" since I was hoping to finish in 52 minutes or less. But then when some other runners moved out of my view I saw it was 49 not 59! That gave me a little boost of energy to sprint on through the end to finish in under 50 minutes. I had not really anticipated going so fast!

And then I had another nice surprise when I checked out my place on the scoreboard-- my "chip time" was 46:48! Because I started back in the 12-minute pace section (the front section was six minute pace), the chip attached to my shoe recorded my specific time since I didn't cross the start right when the gun went off. I think my final average pace was 12:22. It might be my fastest average pace over four miles, I'd have to check the "map my run" site to be sure. I've run faster at home over two miles, but then I don't get as tired at the shorter distance.

I could see that the race would be more fun if you were doing it with a bunch of friends. But that would require being friends with people who ran with you, and pretty much everyone I know who runs, runs faster than me. And I can't really join a training group when I have to have my kids with me all the time, so that's out.

I think I will continue running at home because it just burns so many calories, it does seem to make it easier to lose weight. And the faster you run, the more calories you burn, so I would like to run faster. But not farther. I think I would prefer to run 5k races in the future. Only when I've gotten my speed up (and my weight down), do I think I would consider running further distances. But I might want to try some 5k races. There are so many, I suspect they wouldn't be as big a hassle as ths one was, with getting up so early, etc. Perhaps not right away. Although there is a 5k trail race right here in Crozet later in October, which appeals to me. Because I could run the actual route in advance, because it might be on gravel like I'm used to, and because it's close to home. And I could get a baseline 5k time so I know how far I have to go to improve at that particular distance.