I signed up for this 8K during a #runchat Twitter party, in the afterglow of the Lawyers Have Heart 10K-turned-5K, when I realized that my next real race (not counting the very informal 5K at my conference) wasn’t until the Army Ten Miler in October. While I’ve done the Potomac Valley Track Club’s July 4th 8K several times before, this year it was held at a different location–a park in Arlington instead of the bike path in Alexandria.
PVTC races are very small (limited to 250-300 runners), timed the old-fashioned way (by race clock and bib number), and there are no race t-shirts or sample-filled race packets. I enjoy doing them because they are well-run (no pun intended), a nice change of pace from races 10-100 times larger, and bargain-priced with an $8 entry fee.
The Active.com registration page had this “Brief Description”:
- 8K on park roads and sidewalks, rolling, one steep hill
The email from the race director included this direction and note:
Run up the steep hill on Custis Trail and continue . . .
FAIR WARNING: The outbound section on Custis Trail is uphill, and the return is downhill. . . .
You know how I worry about racecourse hills! It only got worse on Sunday night, when Carly (@carlyrachel) Tweeted this course profile. Yikes! Between that, the late (for me) start time and the warm, humid weather, the only thing I could do is make the best of it.
I woke up early and decided to start my day with the Forward Bends program from my Rodney Yee A.M. Yoga for Your Week DVD. After a shower, I fueled up with coffee and oatmeal with my favorite mix-ins: raisins and peanut butter–yum!
My husband came with me to ride his bike as I ran, and we met up with my friend in the parking lot. After we picked up our numbers, I jogged for a few minutes and stretched a bit before it was time to line up. There was a small group of runners so there was no need to jockey for a line-up position. We did stand behind the elite-looking runners who had done fancy warm-ups and the teenagers from the track club. No need to get in their way!
After the start I settled into an 8:30-ish pace and held that pretty well. I could tell that the “flat” section was slightly uphill, and knew that the worst hill(s) would come after mile 1. When we crossed the highway and got to the section that would be hilly, I was pleased to see that it was more up-and-down than up-up-up. Even if the elevation was increasing overall, it was nice to have some flat and downhill sections.
When my Garmin told me I had gone 2.5 miles, the turn-around was still up ahead. As I reached the turn-around point, I heard the volunteer confirm that the course was “about 1K too long.” I guess one risk with smaller races is inaccurate course measurement, but this group’s races usually are the correct distance!
Much of the way back I was playing “tag” with another woman. She was ahead of me . . . I caught up with her . . . we ran side-by-side for a bit . . . she passed me . . . I caught up with her . . . she passed me . . . . When we were almost back to the finish, I pushed my pace and passed her for the last time. I know she didn’t like it, and I could sense her pushing her pace too, but I dug deep and sprinted all out to the finish, registering a 6:00 min/pace for the last bit! 🙂
I didn’t catch my official finish time, but my Garmin data should be close:
Total Distance: 5.43 miles
Total Time: 46:20
Avg. Pace: 8:32
Split Times: 8:33, 8:31, 8:38, 8:44, 8:31, 7:46 (last 0.43 miles)
And, yes, there was watermelon at the finish!
Did you run this holiday weekend?
Is watermelon a “must have” for your summer celebrations?