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Monday, October 26, 2015

Race Recap: The Ohio State 4 Miler

The Ohio State 4 Miler took place Sunday, October 25 at 10:00am on The Ohio State University campus. [Race Details]

The event shirt // Photo by M3S Sports
Pack Pickup & Pre-Race
We received a free race entry by volunteering at the M3S St. Patrick's Day race. Volunteering is really fun and we've got two other races to cash in!

Packet pickup took place on campus and we were in and out in a matter of minutes. Apparently last year's shirts were comically small and they had to order a new batch of replacements. Fearing the worse, I went a size up. It ended up being too loose (back to normal!) and I was able to exchange it for a smaller size without issue. I've been wearing it since packet pickup and it's awesome.

We live a mile away from the stadium, so we avoided traffic by walking. We arrived before 9, found the (indoor!) bathrooms, then met up with friends near gear check. It was chilly (50 something and windy) and we had to line up at 9:30, so I dumped my coat at gear check, but kept my gloves.

The first year I ran the race (2013) there were corrals based on mile times. This time they asked you to predict your finish during registration and seeded you in corrals. For some reason I wrote 37:00 (probably made sense in May) and I was placed in corral B, which was cool. It is a walker-friendly event which is why I ended up close to the front.

When we ran this in 2013 it was my second or third four mile run ever (and I really mean run. Not race). I finished in 38:02, which was pretty awesome. Yesterday, my goals were more in line with my effort on the short Labor Day course:

A. 8:35/mile for 34:20 finish (This seemed far-fetched, but I put it on my list.)
B. 8:45/mile for 35:00 finish
C. Beat 4 mile PR of 36:17

Singing Carmen Ohio. I had a great view!
They had us line up 30 minutes before race time and entertained us with an MC, ex-OSU football and basketball players, and a coach. The guys sang Carmen Ohio (alma mater), the Star Spangled Banner played, then corral A was let loose. (They said it would take 45 minutes to let out all of the corrals!! Apparently this is the largest 4 miler in the country with 15,000 participants.) B corral kind of became a tail to A because there weren't enough people in A. We didn't get our own official wave start and trickled through the gate. I'm ok with that because it was cold and I wanted to get moving!

The first mile was pretty congested and I immediately understood the need for a wave start. You know what's bonkers? There were people from A and B corrals walking within the first two tenths! I am very supportive of walkers and run/walk intervals, but come on... who seeds themselves in a front corral and walks immediately on a very congested course? That was obnoxious. I expect it to happen somewhere in the first mile (you know, overzealous preteens or someone overestimating their speed), but straight out of the gate is weird. (Because if I were injured and had to walk I'd start in a different corral.) /rant over

Anywho, mile 1 was fine. My feet were cold (heck, my whole body was cold), but I was starting to warm up and feel ok. I actually felt like I was running because I was really picking up my legs with each stride. I was still dodging people, but the crowd spread out by 1.5. I knew I was going to see a twitter friend before mile 2, so I concentrated on that during a bridge uphill. I felt pretty rough, but just kept that milestone in mind. I saw him at 1.8, said "hey!" or something one-wordy and he asked how I was feeling. I replied, "ugghhh" or "mehhh" or something cave-like and he shouted some encouragement. I turned the corner to see a water stop and another gradual hill. I didn't remember campus had hills. They aren't terrible, but they just keep going. I tried to use the downhills to my advantage and was mildly successful.

The course
I didn't stop for water even though I was pretty thirsty and didn't realize it was the only water stop 'til it was too late. Oh well. The mile between 2 and 3 was my slowest. I was really starting to struggle. Ex-OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel was near me at this point (we met him at the Labor Day run). He was posing for photos and chatting, meanwhile I was running quietly nearby wanting to dieeeeee. I saw my pace dip down into the 9s and it was tough to make myself speed up. Honestly, I didn't really speed up, we just went down another hill and gravity carried me.

At 2.7 you're looking right at the stadium but have to turn a corner for another mile. That was rough. People were looking pretty tired. During the first few miles someone would yell "O-H" and a bunch of people would yell "I-O!", but after mile 3 there were no "I-O"s. I sped up during the last mile, but saved my energy for the stadium. You enter the 'Shoe through the swanky team tunnel, pop out and run the length of the field, then turn to run across the field to finish on the 50 yard line. It's pretty cool. When I entered the stadium Alex and our friend Jeff hollered my name. It really motived me to kick it up, but I could not sprint. I did pass a woman at the end (!), but I think a bunch of preteens passed me. (Another note: I thought my stride was probably photo-worthy. I felt really solid and posture-perfect. Alex had a photo of me that completely dispelled that feeling! I was hunched over and looking rough. haha)

Mid thumbs up. Happy to PR!
After the race we played on the field and took photos until our group was reunited. Last time I left the field quickly and didn't get a chance to soak it in. I didn't want that to happen this year! We walked out of the stadium, collected our (giant and heavy!) medals and snacks, and said good bye to friends. Alex and I headed back to gear check (we were freezing by this point), got our free chocolate milk, Chobani yogurt and beef jerky, then walked home.

Final Stats and Thoughts
I knocked 4 minutes off of my previous OSU 4 miler time and over 2 minutes off my PR. My biggest improvement: running the tangents. I ran an extra .2 in 2013.

Final Time: 34:00 (!!!)
Alex after
Overall: 1386 / 13590 (10%)
Gender: 449 / 8534 (5%)
Age Group: 159 / 2633 (6%)
Mile Splits: 8:38, 8:27, 8:52, 8:34

This is a good race for runners and walkers of all levels. I think we'll do it again because it's so close to our house. Four milers are weird. You kind of want to go all out like a 5k, but feel like dying at mile 2 (maybe that's just me). Anyway, I finished faster than anticipated and felt pretty grody before the run (plus it was my first run since Loveland), so think I could run a faster 4 miler on a "perfect" day.

Up Next: Columbus Turkey Trot 5 Miler. The course is terrible, but it's also close to our house and we need to get to Cleveland for dinner. I'm hoping to "win" a pumpkin pie. We may sign up for a Holiday 4 Miler in December (hilly, so no PRs). I kind of want to run a 5k, but haven't found [a cheap] one. 

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The medal was so cute people felt the need to steal it (!?)
P.S. A note about M3S: 

Apparently there was a bit of controversy regarding the medals and walkers. 

Some of the final participants did not receive medals. Having worked as a volunteer and run several M3S events this sounded pretty fishy (there are sometimes leftover medals) and guess what a little digging revealed? People stole medals!! They took extra for friends and family! Can you imagine doing that? I know they're cute, but seriously?! And now folks are demanding M3S "make it right." I know walkers sometimes feel dogged on at events, but M3S loves all of their athletes (seriously, it's very apparent when you volunteer). 

Additionally, a ton of people complained about the walkers getting into A and B corrals. I was standing next to the A and B corral security guys and they were checking every bib and turning runners away. I imagine some of those folks went and hopped the gate somewhere else, but I was witness to these men doing their jobs! Perhaps they need more bib checkers? 

I wanted to add my two cents because I really love M3S events and want to send some positive vibes their way. Sigh. Some people are terrible! 

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