The American 4-Miler is part of Run Charlotte’s 6-Pack race series. I had done the race in 2017, but the chip fell off my bib, and I didn’t get an official time. I am usually out-of-town for July 4th, but because it was on Monday, I decided to give it a try. This is also the first time I signed up for the entire 6-pack, so I might as well try to do them all.
As you can imagine, July 4 in Charlotte can be a really hot day. When I took the dogs out today, I didn’t think it was too bad. I left my water bottle out last night so I had it ready to go. This morning, I decided it “wasn’t as bad as yesterday” and that “it was only 4 miles” so I could make do with one water stop at the 2-mile mark. That was dumb. That was very, very dumb.
One of the reasons this was dumb was because I did 12 miles on Saturday and was so pleased with my new hydration pack. I love it. One of my best running decisions ever, so why I decided that two days later I didn’t need a small handheld will remain a mystery. Don’t be too tough.
The race was held in the midtown area of Charlotte, which is a really good location. We parked at a parking garage by the Trader Joe’s, who was a sponsor for today’s race. I arrived around 6:45 am for a 7:30 am race since I had to pick up my bib and shirt. For some reason, they changed the pick up on Friday to be on Saturday, which is really annoying. For anyone trying to go to the lake or beach this weekend, you would have to be there on Saturday. I was hoping to go on my way out of town Friday, but nope! I got it this morning, which turned out to be okay.
The 4-mile course would take us around Dilworth, which is a very familiar area to me. I usually drive around the area, so it was neat to actually run it. I’m horrible with directions, so I get from point A to Point B to Point E by Google Maps. What would have taken me a Google Map saga showed me how close things really were to one another.
Anyway, the race started with a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. I wish I would have written down her name because she sounded so wonderful! I love kicking off an event with our national anthem on a normal day, but today it was particularly special.
There were several hundred people at the race, so it was one of the better attended races for the season. When I looked at the results later, it showed there were 607 finishers, so quite a large race! I am always in awe of how many people sign up to do races. These people are either committed to doing something healthy or committed to a challenge. Think about how easy it would have been for them to sleep in or not make it back to town because of a lazy holiday weekend. Anyway, the DJ made his announcements, and we were off!
It was really busy at the beginning. I decided I was going to run this race at Coach’s prescribed half marathon pace, which was based off of my new magic mile (MM) time. This pace was 10:45/mile. In my normal training runs, I do a 60/30 ratio of running to walking, but I always feel like my time is high. On his recommendations, I am supposed to do a half a 10:45/mile and a marathon at 11:40/mile – both which would use a 60/30 pace. For the life of me, I cannot wrap my head around how you can change your pace in the same way. On Tuesdays call, I asked about this again and people suggested modifying the ratio. For this race, I decided to give 60/20 a try because I was told walking breaks should max at 30 seconds. Rationally thinking, I should walk less to go faster, right?
The beginning of the race was so congested! The roads were one lane and there were so many people. It’s so hard to do a run/walk in a race where people don’t practice that. At a Disney race, people will start that from the beginning, but at local races, that isn’t popular so people go all out right from the beginning. I tried to start further back, but I think I was too far at the front. Anyway, I eventually got to a part on McDowell where I could get on the sidewalk to take my 20 second walk break. From there I settled into my 60/20, where I would raise my left hand to signal that I was walking. Once I was about a mile in, more people were walking.
The course itself has some rolling hills, but nothing particularly terrible or notable. I was able to run most of the hills during my run time. But once I was a mile in, I knew not bringing my water bottle was a very, very big mistake. While the heat/humidity wasn’t anything like when I golfed yesterday, it was still horrible! I was already sweating and very thirsty. My goal became to get to mile 2.
The first mile went by in my steady 60/20 pace. By mile 1.5, I walked through one of my run times, but eventually I was at the water stop. Whew. That little cup of water, though, nope, definitely wasn’t enough. Again, I cursed arrogant Kristin thinking that it wasn’t necessary this morning. Humidity is no joke – water is needed. Eventually, I looked down in the second mile and saw my swollen fingers. Then I cursed myself for not bringing my Salt Stick tablets because my fingers hurt.
The third mile marker came right as I was about to start a walk time. I had definitely walked through some of my run times. I wanted to hit my 10:45 pace goal, but gosh, it was so hot. “Just be steady,” I kept repeating to myself. “You CAN do hard things,” was the other thing I kept repeating. I was listening to podcasts, so I had something to think about, but I was really ready for this to be over. I was surprised at how many people I was passing, but I’m sure they all went out too fast. This was just proof that my Galloway training was working the way it was supposed to work.
The nice thing about mile three was that I knew I was almost done. I didn’t even have miles to count down. I was behind a pair of women during this mile who were swearing the weather. One of the girls said, “this is bull****.” I chuckled to myself because, yes this was bad, but you signed up for a race in July. I mean, were you expecting to decide between a long sleeve and short sleeve shirt? That put my concerns into perspective, and I told myself to get on with it.
I was sticking to 60/20. I was at mile 3.5, and my app told me it was time to walk. Do I run the last half or stick to my plan. I decided to stick with my goal of hitting 10:45/mile (which I was really close), and I opted to walk. It was hot, and I recall reading somewhere that you should add time to your goal if its hot, but I couldn’t remember the numbers, so best just to stick to my goal. I’m a Southerner, so man up.
Then I got to mile 3.8 or something, and my beep told me to walk. I rounded the final left turn and saw the finish line. Screw that – power to the end! I was on to the end. Not a full out sprint, but focused and going; it was a race after all!
I crossed the finish line to a song that made me happy, but I can’t remember what it was. It was surprising that I even passed a few people in the finish chute, but gosh, I was so happy to be done. I felt like I had gone swimming and, after finding some water, I really, really wanted a shower. Instead of medals, they handed out medal cups. This was my third cup I earned, but I miss a medal. I get that medals aren’t practical, but neither is a medal cup. Oh well, I know a lot of people like the cup, but I am not one of them.
In my dehydrated state (for the third time), I forwent my concern about germs and filled up my cup with water from the water stop. Run Charlotte is trying to be environmentally conscious and has you fill up your cup from the water bottle instead of having plastic water bottles. I agree with reducing the amount of plastic, but I hate not washing the cup first. On top of that, they still support plastic Gatorade bottles, and I don’t drink Gatorade! Be consistent or don’t, but I would really appreciate a bottle of water. If you want to say no bottles, then have a community Gatorade fill-up, too. <rant done>
I was so proud of myself – my finish time was 43:00 which was a 10:46/pace. Despite the horrible heat, I basically hit my pace. I walked several of my run times during the second and third miles, but I was still about at my half marathon time. Hooray!
I didn’t stick around too long before heading home – a shower was required. Not bringing my beach towel was another regret like the water bottle. I was a sweaty mess! Also super proud I wrote my race recap the same day as the race – this is my new goal! 🙂