4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

LIRRC 4 Miler Race Report

with 2 comments

Today I ran a 4 mile PR at the LIRRC race at Eisenhower Park! I had decided not to sign up for the Coogan’s 5k race, which was also today, and then found I actually had time to race, so decided at the last minute to go out to LI.

This fit for me as well because I had recently decided to scale back on my NYRR races and wanted to focus on other small and local races. LIRRC races certainly fit that bill. There were only 43 runners today! Yes it was rainy, but I’m sure the field would be similarly small even on a nice day. The small size was very refreshing. On the other hand, Coogan’s, while a fun and challenging race, has simply gotten too big in recent years. Ft Washington Ave simply can’t handle 5000 people. Also, it seems that in this race a lot of slow people sneak up to the first corrals, gumming up the works. I regret not going only from the standpoint that many of my Twitter friends ran Coogan’s and it would have been fun to meet up.

Anyway, back to my race. On the early Sunday morning, it only took me about 35 minutes to get to the park, which had plenty of parking and a clean bathroom. What more could you want!  About 20 minutes before race time, I put down my $10, and I was in.  It started raining about 15 minutes before the race and then tapered off to light showers and mist by start time.  The race director gave us a description of the 2-loop course, apparently a new course, and then waited it out until 9am on the nose, when they blew the start horn.

I realized shortly before the race that I had a shot at a PR.  My last 4 mile race was 2.5 years ago and my PR was set way back in 2000.  My old PR was 34:23, so I just needed 8:35 pace to beat it.  While still not in tip top shape, and my ultimate goal is to run 4 miles in 32 minutes, I was pretty sure I had 8:35 pace in me today, and so I was intent on keeping at least that pace.

I had a hard time pacing in the first mile.  While the race was really small, there were several guys at about my pace and I stuck with them.  I get uncomfortable running in a pack and so I was trying to create some separation between myself and the others, which I think caused me to speed up a bit too much in that first mile.  Mile 1 had a lot of turns in a wooded section of the park so there was lots to pay attention to.  Before I knew it we hit the 1 mile mark, at 7:57.  Yipes, I knew that was too fast for me, so decided to slow it down in mile 2.  It turned out I didn’t need to try to slow down, nature took care of it for me.  Mile 2 opened up through open spaces and ballfields, and unfortunately against a very stiff wind.  In fact most of the 2nd mile was into the wind, up until we turned back towards the start area.  Mile 2 was 8:38, which I thought was perfect for that stage of the race, considering the wind.  Miles 3 and 4 were a repeat of 1 and 2.  In mile 3 I was starting to tire, and also trying to save energy for the windy conditions I knew would greet me in mile 4.  Still, I was a bit disappointed to finish mile 3 in 8:50.  That meant I would need to turn it up in the last mile for my PR.  And turn it up I did.  Despite the downpour that developed by then, I managed to push it out in the last half mile and mile 4 was completed in 8:37.  Towards the end, I could see that 34 minutes was almost within reach, but I just didn’t have the room left for that last surge, and my official time was 34:03, which is a 20 second PR.

Overall was satisfied by my race, even though my fast first mile almost killed it for me.  I bet if I could have held back to 8:20 or 8:30 in mile 1, I would have had a much faster mile 3 and 4.  Good lesson learned.  Afterwards, I hung around for the awards ceremony, where I learned that I was 3rd in my age group, and won a ribbon, and that I finished in front of the female winner!  Then hopped back in the car for a quick 45 minute trip back home.

All in all, great fun, and I look forward to running another LIRRC race in the future…

EDIT: I forgot to mention that I really do appreciate PR’s.  I don’t get them that often.  PR’s should be hard to get.  To get a PR you have to be in your tip top shape vs any prior effort of the same distance in your entire running career.  I have to say it does bother me when people complain about racing and not getting a PR, or have an attitude of every time out they should have a PR, but I suppose that is a rant for another day.  My 4 mile PR has stood for 5 races over 11 years, and I’m glad it has been reset.  Before today, my last PR obtained was one year ago, at the Coogan’s 5k race!

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Written by SCL

March 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Posted in Race Report, running

2 Responses

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  1. Sounds like a fun race! I gotta start branching out more, once I finally decide to give up the 9+1 thing 🙂

    Nice job out there…

    Joe H

    March 6, 2011 at 9:50 pm

  2. Nice work, man! Going out fast is always a struggle for me. I have to REALLY focus on holding back. Congrats on the ribbon and the shiny new PR! 🙂

    Sharon Paige

    March 6, 2011 at 10:15 pm


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