Saturday night I raced in the 5th annual Potomac River Running Twilight Festival Four Miler in Ashburn, VA. And boy, it was a hot race. Temperatures at race time was around 90 degrees, with humidity to match.
After my episode with humidity last weekend, I decided to begin my hydration process early, as in Friday night. Water only, except for my Saturday morning coffee, until race time. I did drink an electrolyte supplement (about an hour prior to the race) in tablet form I received in my race packet, something called Nuun. It acted like Alka-Seltzer, and didn't taste too badly. I topped off with a pack of SportBeans and a bottle of water about 15 minutes before the start.
The crowd at the start line was very dense, but once I crossed the mat, I was able to find open space rather quickly (side note: I'm always amazed at the number of walkers who line up towards the front of the pack. I know my limitations, and I line up mid-pack. If you're walking, go to the back, please). Also, a surprise to many: the course was different from last year - the new course came out 2 days before the race.
The first mile was relatively flat after a short uphill start, and it showed in my pace, about an 8:42. The course went past the start/finish line again at about the 1 1/2 mile mark, then proceeded down a new stretch of road. At mile 2, I was still around an 8:47 pace, and then the course got a little tricky. An upgrade just past the 2 mile marker (along with the heat) started claiming victims, as I saw runners in front of me beginning to walk. The turnaround was at about mile 2.67 (according to my Garmin), and made its way back upgrade past mile 3. At that point, I was at about an 8:58 pace. The course still went upgrade until the downgrade at about the 3.5 mile mark. I crossed the line in 36:29, a 9:07 pace. My new Garmin, however, told me that I ran 4.07 miles, probably due to my weaving in and out between the slower runners.
All in all, I was pleased with my effort. I had hoped for a 36:00 run, and was slightly off that, mostly due to the extreme heat and the tough final 1.5 miles. But I made it through without any hydration issues, which was my main concern.
Performance-wise, though, it was my best showing all year. I finished in the top third of all finishers (220th of 674), top half of all men (162nd of 346), and top 60% in my age bracket (26th of 44). All of those were my best placements since Thanksgiving 2009. Very gratifying, indeed.
My next race is probably going to be the YMCA of Loudoun County 10K in early August, although if I make my way to the Delaware beaches before then for a weekend, I'll probably take in one of their weekly 5K's.