Last week, I was so excited to see that I didn’t have to work on the morning of the 4th of July. I definitely wanted to take advantage of the morning off and find a race. After weighing my options – I easily decided on the Four on the Fourth in Bridgton, Maine. It was the closest one to me, it had a large amount of runners (about 2,000), and I liked that it was four miles instead of a 5K. This was my first 4 miler, so it means I would earn an automatic PR!
I put out my outfit the night before the race. Fun fact: I own very little red and blue. I even went to Wal Mart to buy a patriotic shirt and couldn’t find anything! I thought I bought a blue tank, but realized that it was actually purple when I got home (I kept it anyways). Knowing that it would be warm and humid the next day, I made sure to pack some Nuun! I got up at 5 the next morning, ate some frosted flakes and a clif bar, and was out the door and on my way!
I left with plenty of time to get to Bridgton because I didn’t know where I was going. My garmin got me there with no problem and I was in the parking lot next to the start line by 6:45 (for an 8:00 start…). The hardest part was figuring out where the bib pickup was, because the website didn’t give an address, just that it was at a school. But after 20 minutes of walking in circles, I found some other runners who were able to send me in the right direction. I signed up too late for a free tshirt, and I was disappointed at the fact that while they were selling some, they were out of smalls! I’ll have to sign up earlier next year
After waiting out the rain in my car, I was ready to go! I stretched at my car for about 10 minutes and then went into the starting corral at the front of the 10:00/mi area. I had a game plan for this race and I wanted to stick to it. I knew that the second mile was super hilly, so I planned to take it easy on the first mile, make it up the hills, then make up time during the second half of the race and hopefully finish within 40:00.
The first mile was very crowded – I did a lot of weaving and kept getting stuck behind groups of kids who’d stop and yell at their friends. I hit the 1 mile mark at 10:13, which I was pleased with. As soon as my watch beeped, the uphill began. My thighs started burning and people everywhere started walking. I wasn’t going to walk though. Before I knew it, my watch beeped again for the second mile, 10:13. I couldn’t believe I held my pace for that hill.
After watching a course preview video, it seemed that after the halfway point, the course was all flat and/or downhill, so I started picking up the pace. I was surprised to encounter more hills, but I didn’t care. After the second mile, I don’t remember people passing me, but I kept passing people. I’d pick someone out and pass them. Thankfully, it started to sprinkle a little bit – it wasn’t so hot but man was it humid! My third mile split was 9:48. Better, but still not where I wanted to be.
My face in the last mile sure was not pleasant. I was working hard to cross that finish line in under 40 minutes. At mile 3.75 we hit another hill. I just wanted to scream. Around then, people were on the streets cheering us on and I knew I couldn’t give up. Running up the last bend, I saw the clock read 40:00 but I knew it took over a minute for me to cross the starting line so I was feeling positive. Right before I crossed the finish line, my watch showed me my final mile time, 8:48. I finished in 39:05, 55 seconds faster than my goal!
I am thrilled that I rocked that last mile and met my goal. While I had heard great things about this race, I also heard about how hard the course was. I am also thankful for the rain, because the 4th of July around here is normally scorching hot!
Would I do this race again? Absolutely. In fact, I plan to sign up first thing next year so I can get a free shirt. I obviously plan on working on my speed, so I can’t wait to see my improvements in a year from now.
Was this race perfect? No. There could have been signs leading to the number pick up/finish area from the start. Also, it is great that a lot of young campers participate in this race, but they clogged up the course and were a bit annoying. Yes, we are all going the same place, but it’s a race and people do them for time. There’s no need to stop in the middle of the road and yell at the people running past you (silly kids.) There were also quite a few of race bandits. From my place in the middle of the pack (I came in 896 out of 1,960) I saw at least 20 with fake numbers. However, that can’t necessarily be helped. It was just aggravating!
Did you run a race on the 4th of July? How was it?