Happy Independence Day!
I’ve got a Fourth of July Race Recap to share today. According to Running in the USA, the Fourth of July is the second most popular holiday for road racing, second only to Thanksgiving.
I’ve run in a few holiday themed firecracker races in the past, but they were never actually on July 4th. Well, that changed today because I ran a 4 mile race, the SHARK Run in Gulf Shores, AL on the Fourth of July. I like the idea of a 4 mile race on the Fourth of July. Then again I’m a numbers nerd, so that’s par for the course around here.
The race started at 7:00 a.m. at the Flora-Bama. There was also a 4.5 mile race that was 2 miles on the road and 2.5 miles on the beach. If I hadn’t been doing a specific workout, I would’ve been all over the half and half run. I love running on the beach. Maybe next year!
I ran the race as the last 4 miles of my long run. My schedule called for 18 – 20 miles with the last 3 – 4 “up tempo” (6:40 – 6:50 range). Since I raced Saturday and needed an easy day in between, Monday (aka today) became my long run day. I was pretty excited when I heard about this race because I thought it would be a perfect way to get my long run in, especially the fast finish portion.
Err, well … I was excited at least until my alarm went off at 3:15 a.m. this morning. The things I get myself into AND the things I rope others into with me … My friend Jessica joined me for my long run! Y’all. How awesome was that? She met us at 4:45 to get 14 miles in before the race. Daniel also put up with my shenanigans and got up with my at 3:15 to ride to the race. He did the race, but didn’t participate in our 14 mile “warm up.”
He said that he would come as long as I would drive and he could sleep in the car until it was time for the race. Worked for me! Bless him.
There was no traffic during the 3:45 – 4:30 hour when we were traveling (crazy, I know), so we made it to the Flora-Bama pretty quickly. After a quick pit stop at Waffle House (where there were people still up from the night before), Jessica and I were on our way. They told us to have a good night as we were walking out. Ha!
I used Strava to make us a route and then I wrote it down on a sticky note so that we wouldn’t get lost. Apparently I could’ve just saved the route on Strava and then used my phone to make sure we didn’t get lost, but I didn’t exactly think that through all the way. Daniel was proud of me for using Strava (I got 1 cool point), but then he took away my cool point when I used a sticky note to write the route out.
We ran towards Florida and looped around on River Road and came back to the Flora-Bama (which is on the Florida Alabama line).
The route was really good. It was nice and flat and we even found a place to refill our bottles along the way. We enjoyed lots of pretty scenery and we averaged 8:34 for the first 14 miles.
We got back to the Flora-Bama with just a few minutes to spare before the race started. Thankfully Daniel was able to get our bibs for us while we were out running. It kind of felt like we were doing a relay (or perhaps a triathlon) and we exited the transition area pretty seamlessly. I didn’t really have time to change clothes, so I didn’t end up wearing my Rabbit jersey, but other than that, everything went according to schedule. We drank some G2 and headed to the start line of the race.
I ran into a couple of friends from my hometown at the race which was fun! We chatted with them for a little while before the race (and again afterwards). It was great to see y’all, Ashley and Rayne 🙂
I wasn’t entirely sure how my legs were going to feel once we started the race and my goal was to try to stay around 6:45 pace if I could. The course was a really flat out-and-back. There was a little bit of a headwind on the way out. Even though the wind resistance makes it a little bit tougher to hit your pace, the breeze felt really good. I ran miles 1 and 2 in 6:36 and 6:40.
There was a pack of 4 girls ahead of me for pretty much the entire first two miles. I kept them in sight, but wasn’t really super concerned with catching them. Two of them slowed down a little bit and by the time we came through the turnaround, I was in third place. One of the top two girls was doing the beach run, so she turned off to run back on the beach and then all of a sudden I was in second place.
After we turned around it got really hot. That nice breeze that we had on the way out was gone and I could tell that I was starting to fade some. Daniel came up beside me and really helped me to stay in the race mentally. Even though I thought I was fading, we actually ran the third mile faster (in 6:34). I was still pretty content with second place, but Daniel wasn’t letting me give up. He kept encouraging me to pick it up and come with him. His support helped me a lot.
During the last mile of the race, all of a sudden, the skies opened up and it started pouring rain on us. I didn’t even know that there was a chance of rain at all. I think it was probably just one of those summer pop up showers that you can’t really predict. Regardless, it couldn’t have come at a better time. The rain felt so, so good! I was very thankful for some relief from the heat.
Daniel had a decent gap on me at this point, but I kept closing in on the first place girl during the last mile and ended up passing her with less than half a mile to go. The rain definitely came to my rescue and I felt awesome. I ran the last mile at 6:14 pace, which was my fastest mile of the day. I ended up in first place for the women with a time of 25:27 (6:32 average). I was really happy with how that whole long run + race went down!
I usually detest fast finish long runs. They are difficult, but so effective. Physiologically, you are training your body to work more efficiently at marathon pace and mentally, you have to combat the extreme fatigue that you will inevitably face during the final few miles of the marathon. I will definitely be thinking back on this run in my next marathon (which is still TBD, by the way). It was a major confidence booster for me.
Rebecca came and met us for the race. Y’all. She ran a marathon Saturday night and still ran sub-8 minute pace today, pushing the stroller. What?! Her 50 mile training is really paying off! I can’t wait to see how well she does at her race in November.
After the race, we went to Brick and Spoon for brunch. We were all pretty hungry. Lizzie and Karl met us there and we had a great time hanging out and catching up. That place is so good! I got the Caribbean Scramble, which was scrambled eggs, jerk chicken breast, grilled pineapple, onion, Monterey jack cheese & mango salsa. It was delicious.
Photog skillz aside. I mean it is a scramble … it’s gonna look like a hot mess. A hot, delicious mess.
I enjoyed the race and the company, of course. I think I might make this one a tradition! Anyone else race or run today? How did it go?