Friday, July 19, 2013

Go Fourth 8k - July 2013

Go Fourth 8k - Vienna, VA - July 2013

Patriotic t-shirt...which was made in India :)
As you may have guessed by this race's name, it took place on the 4th of July. And as you also may have guessed, it was hot!  Even though the race started early in the morning, the temperature was already mid-70s and the humidity was in the mid-90s.

I had never run the Go Fourth 8k before. In fact, I had never even run any 8k before.  So, I was guaranteed to set a PR. All right!!   An 8k is 4.97 miles (not 5 miles!) in case you were wondering. One of my friends and I had decided to do this race about a month earlier.  He ended up not being able to make it, but since the registration was only $8, I figured I would just do it anyway.  The Potomac Valley Track Club organized the race.  They put on several "low-key" races set around holidays which I have done before - the Cranberry Crawl 5k/10k around Thanksgiving, the Christmas Caper 5k/10k around Christmas, and the By George 5k/10k around President's Day.  The races are generally fairly small - usually 100-200 runners.  They don't give out t-shirts, but the race entry fees are incredibly cheap, and I already have about a billion t-shirts, so I don't mind at all.  If you are a more competitive runner, they give out some silly prizes for age-group winners.  I had won my age-group at all three of the previously mentioned races, and my prizes included a loaf of cranberry bread (Thanksgiving),  a Christmas popcorn tin, and a cherry pie (Washington's Birthday).

As I mentioned earlier, it was very hot the day of this race. I generally avoid doing most races in July and August for that reason.  The likely slow times you will run are frustrating and can mess with your confidence in your fitness level if you don't know any better.  I actually did something a bit crazy for this race - I wore a fuel belt!  I generally think that people who wear fuel belts for any race shorter than a marathon (or maybe half-marathon) are tools.  But it was hot enough for me to break my own rule today.

 I carried two 7-ounce bottles of Accelerade on my belt.  I just started using Accelerade a few months ago on some runs after reading about it in the book Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald.  It is basically a sports drink that has protein.  It has 120 calories, 21 g of carbs, and 5 g of protein for every 12 oz.  According to Accelerade, during a workout, you will experience 29% greater exercise endurance, 40% improvement in endurance in a subsequent workout, 83% less muscle damage, and 15% better
Accelerade - it's got electrolytes (and protein)!
rehydration than if you had used a conventional sports drink (ex - Gatorade).  Most of these factors (especially the reduced muscle damage) are due to the protein in the drink.  Unfortunately, the drink does have a lot of calories - 120 cal for 12 oz.  Gatorade has about that amount of calories in a 20 oz bottle.  So, Accelerade also makes Accelerade Hydro, which only has 60 calories per 12 oz, but still has 2.5 g of protein.  Accelerade Hydro is supposed to be equally effective as regular sports drinks, but with fewer calories.  I went with the regular Accelerade for this race.

After my 1-mile warm-up, I knew it was going to be tough running.  At least there was a bit of cloud cover.  My wife and I headed over to the start line.  The race was a simple out-and-back on the WO&D Trail, starting near the "train" in Vienna.  I looked around and figured that I should be able to finish in the top 5 today.  But I would have to be smart.  I knew that with the weather, I couldn't just blast off from the start line and run an insane first mile like I frequently do.  I would have to run conservatively over the first half of the race, and then pick it up over the last two miles if I had anything left.  Normally, I would be able to run an 8k in slightly over 6:00/mile pace.  But today, I figured I would aim for somewhere between 6:15 and 6:30 pace.  I knew other people would probably sprint out like it was a 5k on a 50 degree day, but I would have to do my best to ignore them and just let the heat bring them back to me after the first couple miles.

I started off conservatively, just like I wanted, and ran the first mile (which was a slight gradual downhill) in 6:12.  I was in 7th place after the first mile, but knew that some of the runners in front of me would not hold up.  The first two looked strong, but I thought I had a shot at the others.  I stayed conservative on the second mile and ran a 6:20, although the heat was definitely starting to effect me. They had one water stop at about the 1.5 mile mark, which you could also hit on the way back at about 3.5 miles, but I still don't think it was enough.  I was really glad I brought my fuel belt with me!  This way I was able to take in more fluid, along with the carbs and protein.  Plus I didn't have to break my momentum to grab water from someone.  I think this really did give me an edge over some of the runners who got dehydrated, overheated, and faded after the first couple miles. I passed one runner during that second mile to move into 6th place.

Do you have a problem with that?
I slowed down a bit more on the 3rd mile and ran a 6:36.  But the good news was that I passed one more person right at the 4k turn-around point to move into 5th place.  A little while after the turn around, I saw another runner about 200 meters ahead of me.  At about that same time, I also saw my wife running towards me, heading for the turn around point.  She pointed back to the other runner ahead of me and yelled, "Pass him! He's finished!"  I started laughing for a few seconds, but then took her advice, and did eventually pass him to move into 4th place.  She reminded me of John Kreese from Cobra Kai in Karate Kid.  I thought she might tell me to "Sweep the leg" next!  One of the many reasons I love my wife is that she is insanely competitive - almost as much as me (See - I am even competitive about being competitive).  She ran a great race here, and ended up taking 1st place in her age-group!

So, now I was in 4th place, but 3rd place was pretty far ahead.  I started to slow down more significantly on the 4th mile (6:50) and final 0.97 (also 6:50 pace).  But my heart rate was in the low to mid 180s, so I know that I was working hard.  I finished in 32:32 (6:34/mile pace), taking 4th place overall out of 91 runners! (Race ResultsI also finished 2nd place in the 30-39 age group (they don't do overall awards) and won a patriotic t-shirt as my prize...which was made in India.  :)  My wife won a patriotic towel for her prize.  So, after the race we took the towel to the pool to cool off and relax.  It was a fun day!

I probably won't do any races for a while now.  I am starting my 18-week training plan for the Philadelphia Marathon, and will focus on that for a while.  My next scheduled race is over Labor Day weekend at the VA Beach Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon.  I'm running it as a two-man relay with one of my friends.  I run the first 7 miles or so, and then he finishes the rest.  We were looking at the winning relay times from the past couple years, and I think we have a really good chance to win the whole thing! Thus our team name - In It To Win It.