The 4 the Park race is a 4 mile race at Memorial Park, to benefit the park. I wanted to run this one last year, but it was right after my half marathon, so I never registered. It was a last minute decision this year (I registered the day before), but I’m glad I did!
My race packet came with a free tree to plant and a buy-one-get-one-free coupon to the Counter Burger. I think they have the best veggie burgers in Houston. Since I registered so last minute, they only had large shirts left.
I wasn’t sure what the parking situation was going to be, so Pat got up to drop me off at the park about 45 minutes before start time. I could have driven – there were only 2,000 runners and plenty of parking spots still open! But it was nice of him to drive me. I walked a little over a mile to get to the picnic loop, where the race was starting.
The mayor gave a speech before the race, and then we were off! I’m not sure what got into me. My training runs have involved a lot of walking. I can’t remember the last time I ran 4 miles straight. My goal was to try to run most of the race at a 9:30 pace, and then pick it up at the end if I had anything left in me. But as soon as we started, people were passing me left and right, and I saw that my pace was under 9:00… and I wasn’t slowing down.
I finished my first mile in 8:55. I felt good, but I was sure that I was making the rookie mistake of starting way too fast, and was prepared for a much slower three miles following that. But after the second mile, I saw another 8:55 flash on my Garmin! And people were still flying by me in a constant stream. This was a fast crowd!
I slowed down a bit during the third mile, and took a walk break through the first water station I saw. Even with my walking, my third mile was 9:03. There was an up and back. Although I thought I must have been in the back of the crowd, I quickly saw there were plenty of people behind me too. But I felt energized to try to finish strong. I ended up taking short walk breaks through each of the 3 water stations. I was thirsty and wanted to be sure to stay hydrated.
The last mile was tough. I kept telling myself how great I was doing and willing myself to keep moving at the same pace. I wanted to stop to walk, but I didn’t. I tried to mentally pick people ahead of me, and tried to pick them off. My final mile was 8:49.
I was so proud of myself! This is the first race I completed in a pace under 9:00, although my official pace was 9:10. But according to my Garmin, I ran 4.12 for a pace of 8:55, so I’ll go with that 🙂
- Mile 1: 8:55
- Mile 2: 8:55
- Mile 3: 9:03
- Mile 4: 8:49
- Mile 4.12: 8:24 pace
- Total: 36:43 (8:55 pace)/ official: 36:40 (9:10 pace)
According to the race results, I ran the first 2 miles in 9:15 and the second 2 miles in 9:05. I came in 46 of 175 in my division. I was thrilled with the results!
After the race, I wandered around the food tents. They had a lot of great options! Breakfast tacos from El Rey, a chicken dish from Chatters, smoothies, fresh fruit, free massages, and more. I was impressed with all the options! It looked like they were going to have music too, but since I was on my own, I decided to head home.
Since Pat dropped me off, I planned to walk home. I told him if I wasn’t home by 10am, to come looking for me. I thought it would be just a 2 mile walk home. I alternated walking/jogging. I made it 2.3 miles and realized I probably had another mile to go. I was so happy to see Pat’s car coming – he came looking for me early! Between the walking before and after, and the race, I ran/walked a total of 7.5 miles.
I will definitely run this race again next year! Did any other Houstonians run this race this year or in the past?