Race # 9: 4 the Park

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 🙂

My splits:

  • 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?

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2 responses to “Race # 9: 4 the Park

  1. You are such an inspiration to me. You give me hope that someday i will break through a 10 min mile in a road race. Great job!!

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