Labor Day weekend is my favorite weekend of the year. Why? Well with my birthday being in early September, having off 4 days from work is an annual birthday present I always enjoy. One bonus of that 4-day weekend is that there is a local race held each year on Labor Day!
The Chick-fil-A Dash for Diabetes 4 Mile Race is held at Millbrook High School in Winchester, VA. Per the race description:
The 4 mile race starts and ends at the Millbrook High School Football Stadium. The 4 mile course will begin on the MHS track then head up through the parking lot, across the practice football field to the 3rd Battle of Winchester Civil War Trail. We will run “clockwise” through the woods, around the loop near 81, and back out of the woods, through the field and back to the track for a sprint to the finish line.
This race course includes some portions of the 8k For MS Trail Race that I ran in July, so I am familiar with the terrain. With my next marathon (West Virginia) looming in two weeks, my plan was to give 90% effort in this race as it would be my last “hard” run prior to the beginning of my tapering period of my marathon training.
That morning I had my usual pre-workout meal of a half whole wheat bagel with almond butter and brought along some hydration drink to sip on as I waited for the race to start. Upon check-in, I saw that my bib number would be “13” for the race. Lucky me! After conversing with some co-workers who were also running the race, I settled into my pre-race mobility routine and lined up at the start. It was VERY hot and humid but it didn’t concern me too much as I knew I was well hydrated. What did amaze me was that another local runner I talked to there was wearing PANTS (which he always races in). He is super fast too (and would finish second overall)…so whatever works for him!
As the race began on the portion that is road / track, I headed out and settled into a quick but sustainable pace. I was passed by a couple of runners but I let them go ahead hoping to catch them at the end of the race. Running through the shady trail for mile 1, the next two miles opened up into the field / trail portion of the race that was right under the hot sun. I was keeping a solid pace and at this time began focusing on a younger runner in front of me (he looked to be 12 years old) with a goal of trying to catch him. Running him down was also helping to keep my mind off the sun, heat, and humidity which was beating down.
We approached mile 3 which put us back onto the shady portion of the trail. I caught up to the boy and tried to encourage him to keep up with me so we could finish the race strong together. He had to stop and walk a bit so I told him the finish was not far away, and moved on ahead to focus on the home stretch of the run. For the final 1/2 mile the course took me up a slight incline in the parking lot, downhill, and back onto the track for a 1/2 loop towards the finish line. As I rounded the turn towards home, I could see the clock was under 30 minutes…so I hit the jets and sprinted strong to the finish, clocking in at 29:43!
My time was better than I expected it would be. I stuck around waiting for the race results to appear on my phone just to see where I placed. I was soaking from head to toe in sweat and had left my cherished beach / sweat towel in the car, but I passed the time watching the kids fun run and mascot race they had while waiting. The younger boy whom I had passed also came up to me and thanked me for helping to encourage him (which made my day).
Christie sent me a text message telling me the results were up…and that I had finished 1st in my age group (9th overall)! Wow…I had no idea I had run that well.
I took home a nice racing long sleeve polo shirt (and Chic-fil-A gift card) for my first place age group finish, and was also happy to know I had burned off a good bit of calories in preparation for my birthday dinner that Christie was making me that evening (Chicken cheesesteaks, salad, sweet potato fries…and her one-of-a-kind Aaron’s Extreme Chocolate Birthday Cake). This is the one day of the year I pig out at dinner, so I am happy to report I had two large pieces of cake…with no regrets! 🙂
Overall: 9 of 137
Male: 7 of 63
Male 30-39: 1 of 12