Race Recap – Four Courts Four Miler

Saturday morning, I ran the Four Courts Four Miler for the first time.  It’s the third year of this race, which is put on by Pacers Events.

The Four Courts Four Miler is one of those FUN races.  You know, the kind that start and end at a bar, and you get a free beer for crossing the finish line.  To add to it, it’s a St. Patricks’ day event, and happens to be sponsored by an Irish pub – Ireland’s Four Courts in Clarendon.  Because of the way the calendar worked this year, the race was a full week before the holiday.  But I can assure you this did not dissuade the folks from fully embracing the festive holiday spirit!

I was, shall we say, *strongly* encouraged to run this race by my friends Heather, Matt, Nina, and Sam.  Heather and Matt happen to live about 2 blocks from the bar/start/finish line, so they also invited everyone over for post-race brunch.  (They almost talked my Hubz into running as well, which is quite a feat considering his general anti-race-participation philosophy, but he ended out having to drop out on PT’s orders due to a recent back injury).

And as an extra bonus?  Heather acquired both materials and a design for she, Nina, and I to make ourselves matching kelly green tutu skirts so we could properly run in the Irish spirit! We girls had a tutu-making party a few weeks earlier and could not have been more excited to debut our exquisite handiwork. Here we are on race morning!

Exhibit A: We are sooo pretty.

View from the backside. You know you wanted it.

Exhibit B:  Bows on the back, yo. Legit.  This is before we headed out to the start line. (That’s Sam in the background, trying not to look too skeevy).

After warming up as much as possible, we ventured back out to the streets of Arlington, VA to line up.  We pretty much waited until the last possible minute, because it was remarkably frigid that morning and the wind was pretty dang intense.  We met up with a couple other friends and all lined up together, while Hubz went off to get his free beer (from the bib he didn’t end up running with) and wait for us with his camera towards the end.  It was a pretty small race – only about 1500 finishers (although I imagine there were a good deal more signed up that were discouraged by the cold) – so we weren’t too concerned about placement in the crowd at the start line.  Although, perhaps I should have been, because I probably shouldn’t have gone out nearly as fast as I did…

I had been warned about this race course.  It’s an out and back which is basically a 2 mile downhill, turn around, and 2 mile uphill.  Not the easiest race course.  I tried to keep this in mind for the start of the race, but the combo of the cold and the anxiety to get away from the crowded start line caused me to take off pretty dang fast.  I checked myself on my Garmin and realized I was running at a really fast pace for me – like, faster than I normally run my 800 repeats – but convinced my tired cold brain that it was OK, I was just making up for the slower pace I would inevitably take on the uphills in the 2 mile return.

Since I started out so unnecessarily fast, I basically split away from our whole group and didn’t see anyone for the first couple miles.  Matt and Sam caught up to me just before the turn around.  I chatted briefly with Matt and he scurried off beyond me.  I briefly toyed with the notion of trying to keep up with them, but I was already feeling the results of my trigger-happy start and regained enough sanity to remind myself that I needed to save it for the brutal uphill coming up in the last half mile.  So, I watched them go by on the other side and bid them good luck.

That’s Matt looking super happy to be running, and showing his Michigan pride.

I passed Heather and Nina a little ways after I took the turnaround and they looked so darling running together in their matching tutus!  Sadly, no photo of them running due to technical errors.  😦

The last 2 miles were not the most pleasant of my life.  As I came up to the first uphill, I decided to walk it out for a little bit to save energy for the even bigger hill that I knew was coming at the end.  I trudged on through, helped largely by some new Jay-Z additions to my Ipod, and seeing Hubz at the top near the finish meant I had to put on a smile and keep running strong all the way through the finish line.

Here I am, triumphant!  Love that guy’s sweatband/sunglasses combo, too, btw.

And the happy group of us at the finish line.  We lasted about 20 seconds after Hubz took this photo, and then the shivery thing set in that happens when you’re post-race sweaty in 30 degree windy weather…so we high-tailed it back to Heather and Matt’s for mimosas and delicious brunch.

Final time: 32:59 – 8:15/mile pace.  Notably, my first two miles were at a 7:24 pace, which is ridiculous.  No wonder I had to pace like crazy on the way back.  Not proud of that.

I was a little nervous to commit to this race since it was only a week before my upcoming Rock n Roll USA half marathon, but the 4 mile hard effort worked well enough in my taper week.  And overall, this was a great, super fun race event over all, and I will definitely be reprising the tutu next year!

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