Monday, June 23, 2014

Ashburn Twilight 4-miler Race Report

This one is going to be a short entry, because (1) I'm behind, and (2) this race was done to memorialize Jamie Rowley, a mom of two killed by an SUV as she was out running, so I don't want to make too many fart or poop jokes.

Years ago, I'd done this race, and I'd done it poorly.  What was worse was that my ex-wife and daughter had come out to watch me, and I'd basically shat the bed.  I was tired, fatter, and generally not feeling it on a hot June afternoon.  I ran it, but it wasn't anything special.

Because I'd purchased a Potomac River Running Race Pass, I really needed to start USING my codes for races, and this seemed like a good choice.  I went and did mile repeats at a track earlier in the day, and then took my daughter out to Ashburn, to drop her off with her mom.  The course was right there in the evening.  Here we go.

The most pressing things I had to decide were these:

1.  Do I wear the sweaty shirt from the track earlier in the day?
2.  Do I wear the race t-shirt I'd just gotten from packet pickup?

Luckily, the answer was 3(!) -- I found an old "Team Justice" shirt from my 2013 Lawyers Have Heart race and just threw that on.  It's fairly bling-y.  It's got my Division and Section on the sleeve, along with a "Boston Strong" decal on the back, and the DOJ Eagle on the front/back.  Pretty noticeable.  I certainly noticed people noticing IT, which weirded me out a little.

I also had to do a couple of things:

1.  Come up with a race plan, and 

Sorry, I mean, SCRABBLE!

I'm a word game/scrabble FREAK.  I love them.  So instead of doing some VERY simple math about what kind of pace I needed, or even what I had in MIND to do, I just played Scrabble, answered some tweets, and then left my phone in the car to go run.  If only I'd noticed that I could hit sub-31 minutes with a 7:45 pace . . . .


No delay for this entry.  Packet Pickup was smooth.  People friendly.  All good.  Blew away the clusterfuck of the LHH race from a week ago.

BANG!  And we're off.

Mile 0-1:  7:38

I was definitely cooking here, but not breathing super hard.  I noticed a couple of people pass me.  One was a woman who had some sort of diagonal bottle along the small of her back, and the other was a guy wearing a distinctive t-shirt I recognized.  They'd pass me, then seem to slow down, then pass me again.  Ah well.  My Garmin showed me relatively steady.

Note:  If I'd bothered to race plan, I'd have realized I had a few seconds of cushion from my 7:45 goal pace.  Idiot.

Mile 1-2:   8:05

Hit the halfway point here, not knowing that I was less that 15 seconds off my overall pace at the halfway.  Looking back, this was the mile that did me in.  I just was racked with blahs, and we hit two minor climbs that made me even LESS interested in running.

Mile 2-3:   7:59
Somewhere during this mile, I started to say, "Enough is enough.  Screw this pity party and TOUGHEN THE HELL UP.  I started to do some math, and realized that, just maybe, I might come through with a sub-8 minute pace if I could just dig deep.  So I dug.  And I kicked.

Trust your kick.  Trust your kick.  Just KICK THE HELL NOW YOU HAVE ONE MILE TO GO.

Mile 3-4:   7:24

I passed the guy in the t-shirt I recognized.  I passed the lady with the bottle along her back.  I passed two more people I recognized from the start line, some of whom had eyed my shirt with curiosity.  I pushed.  I pressed.  I realized I had WAY more in the tank than I thought and OH SHIT THERE'S THE DAMN FINISH.

I watched 31:00 tick by on my watch, JUST as it struck me that, "Hey, I bet 7:45 per mile over 4 miles would equal 31 minutes.  Ooops.  Dork."

I'd missed 31 minutes by under 10 seconds.

I'll say this -- I wasn't even upset.  I'd run mile repeats earlier that day.  I'd had three people approach me (none of the ones I'd mentioned) to tell me that they saw me pass them towards the end, and couldn't stay with me.  So yay for negative splits!  

Also, I wasn't upset because, as I'd learned earlier this year at the GW Parkway classic, post-race beers are AMAZING.  I'd even found a way to ensure the precariously-hanging beer voucher would stay attached:  


My beer and food tags are hanging precariously from my race bib no more. #ProblemSolver #BeerHero

View on Instagram

I drank a beer, ate food, cheered runners coming in to the finish.  Finally, I chatted with some of the folks from the Run For Jamie support group, and of course thanked them for their efforts.  With that, it was time to go.

I stunk.

Race by the numbers:

Top 16% overall

Top 30% Men

Top 28% AG

Course elevation, FWIW:

Ashburn Twilight 4-Miler Course Elevation


  1. So I never saw this last year, found it today while I was searching for an elevation profile. Rick runs this race every year and I usually do the 1-mile fun run with Freddy (so yes, we were there last year!) This year we are both running it & my dad is hanging with Freddy. I am suddenly feeling way unprepared as I've essentially been taking it easy the last two months & now I'm like "oh $%@#" I have to train for a marathon. I'm looking at the weather tonight and thinking I should have stuck with the fun run. Oh well, have to get back out there sometime! Thanks for having the elevation profile I needed to see :)

    1. Kim! Sooo freaking funny -- I was JUST thinking about you today because I'd read your VO2 blog recently and wanted to comment from a computer, not a phone. Glad you found the elevation profile useful, and I hope you had a great, or at least tolerable race!