For the third year in a row I joined my running club at the Four on the Fourth four mile race in Elmhurst, IL. This race has become an annual club event where we race and then pig out on goodies brought by the club members potluck-style.
This year? This year I had no real goals. Wednesday morning, July 4th, dawned super hot and humid and ended up tying a 1911 temperature for the hottest Chicago area Fourth of July on record by the end of the day. We hit 102oF Wednesday afternoon.
So, really, my main goal was to survive! I wanted to run the whole thing without walking (I decided to walk some during my 5.5 mile Monday night run which was also done in some crazy heat), try to average 9:00 minute miles, and hopefully have even or negative splits.
Actually, my goal for this race is always to have negative splits, but since there’s some decent hills I don’t always manage to do it.
I wore my headphones, something I haven’t done in a race in a long time. I don’t know if they helped or not but I didn’t mind trying to take my mind off the heat and the fact that I haven’t be training for racing at all.
Still, when the gun went off I settled into what felt like a nice pace. I tried not to look at my Garmin and just run by feel. Of course, I snuck a look here and there and it always showed me as hovering just around 9:00 minutes per mile. Perfect.
The hill up to the finish line
The first two miles of this race aren’t bad. More downhill, good distractions of seeing your friends and “teammates” running in the opposite direction on the out-and-back part of the course. But once you turn around at mile 2 and start to head back, you’ve got to fight off the demons that tell you that all those hills you went down? You have to go back up. Those miles you just ran to get here? You have to cover them again.
Mile four of this race may be my least favorite mile of all time,
I grabbed water at the aid station, drank some, splashed some on myself, and kept going. The Garmin still showed I was on pace at around 9:00 so I decided not to push it. Could I have dug deeper? Sure. But why?
I saw my friend John near the finish line with his camera and made a beeline for him. He joked later that I’m good and knowing when to get out from behind other runners so I can get my picture taken. The benefits to not being as concerned about your time, right?
I crossed the finish line and immediately sweat began to roll down my bare skin. Another club member who wasn’t running asked me, “Did you pour water on yourself?”
Um, no. This is all natural sweat, thank you very much.
It was hot out.
This race has a table at the finish line where you can punch your bib number into a machine and it will print out your finish time for you. You don’t even have to wait to get home to look it up online! But I didn’t bother. I knew it wouldn’t be my fastest time and I’d already met most of my goals. Now it was time for watching the kid’s 1K run, stuffing my face with fruit and baked goods, chugging a Gatorade, and hanging out with my club members.
But, for posterity’s sake, I did look up my time online later. Official finish time? 36:02. My splits weren’t too bad according to my Garmin. They were 8:56, 8:46, 8:59 and 9:09.
See, I told you I hate that last mile.
But I don’t hate this race. I love hanging out with so many club members I don’t always get to see. I love the downhome feel of this race. I love that it’s a great way to spend the first part of a holiday. And I love that even if I’m not hitting a PR, I can still have a good time.
P.S. Thanks to John and Robert for the photos!