THE Ohio State 4 Miler: Race Recap

This year was the third running of the Ohio State 4 Miler.With 15,000 registered participants, it was the largest 4 mile race in the nation. The race benefits the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer and the Urban and Shelley Meyer Fund For Cancer Research.

Race Week Training

Training? What training? Unfortunately, my body didn’t recover as smoothly from my Columbus Half PR. I took Monday off because I was exhausted from a long weekend. Tuesday I slept in so my scheduled 6 mile run was moved to after work; I felt great during the first mile, but into the third my body was done, so I called it quits at 3.50 miles. I completely missed my scheduled 6 miles on Wednesday due to a really bad schedule. And Thursday was two miles in lieu of six, so don’t ask about my 10 miler on Saturday. My priority was rest and recovery over mileage, especially considering my productive fall race schedule. The goal ahead is my first ultra in less than two months.

Race Day

Since I didn’t get a chance to stay in Columbus the night before, I was up at 4am to head to South. I ate my usual Oatmeal for breakfast and grabbed a Starbucks Decaf Skinny Caramel Latte.  The drive was easy getting me into Columbus and parked on W 11th Ave (free meter parking on Sundays) by 8:15am. I brought a banana for a snack two hours prior since the race didn’t start until 10am. I really wished I had brought a pre-race snack because around 9am, I was starting to get hungry. I always thank M3S Sports for Race Day packet pick-up, and found myself with plenty of time to get situated. The weather was chilly but I felt safe and warm (enough) in my Nike GCM Ambassador Shirt, Athleta Be Free Knickers and SmartWool PhD run socks. I dropped by bag off at gear check and headed out for a 2 mile warm-up run. I did a last minute restroom break and headed into my Corral for the start. I didn’t get much of my warm-up yoga routine because of the crowded start area.

Race Goals

This is supposed to be a fun race, but there’s no harm in setting goals.
Goal A: Sub-30:00 (7:29/mile). This is an overly ambitious, the stars are aligned type of day.
Goal B: Sub-32:00 (7:59/mile). This became Sub-33:00 (8:14/mile) on race day with the combination of the weather and my post-half marathon PR legs. A goal I really believed I had in me.
Goal C: Sub-36:00 (8:59/mile). This was my bad day but still happy with the finish goal.

Start Area

Columbus is gifted with two great race directors, both with the initials DB. Dave from M3S Sports really tailors his events to the target audience. Plenty of Buckeye Greats running the race, and we sang Carmen Ohio prior to the start.

Mile 1: 7’55”
I tried to start as close to the front as I felt comfortable. I wanted to find a 7:30/mile runner and pace myself. It was fairly crowded but not in a bad way. Although I did miss high-fiving Brutus as I crossed the start line. We made a left turn into the wind and onto Woody Hayes Drive for a slight incline over the Olentangy River. I saw some GUs presumably left over from the previous weekend as we passed through Ag Campus before turning left onto John Herrick Drive and into Mile 1.

Mile 2: 8’21”

As we passed the Mile 1 marker I felt us approach the wind again as we crossed over the Olentangy and headed passed the Medical Campus. This was a fairly uneventful stretch, as I struggled to keep up my pace. I grabbed water at the water stop.

Mile 3: 8’31”

Mile 3 had us turn left onto College Avenue, and remind me that there is a hill I never noticed. I got excited turning left onto W 17th Avenue towards the stadium, but knew it was just a trick because we had more miles to cover. I had found a few people to pace with, but hoped I had some fuel left in the tank for Mile 4. My watch was showing an 8’14” average pace and I knew a sub-33:00 was at risk if I didn’t find something during Mile 4.

Mile 4: 7’50”
As I passed the Mile 3 marker, my legs didn’t agree with the plan of moving faster. Until we turned onto Woodruff Avenue (and into the wind), I still wasn’t sure I was going to make a sub-33:00. I let Mekka Don’s Juice play on repeat for this last mile. As we turned onto Tuttle Park Place, I felt a little nauseous (again!) and decided I was sick of feeling this way but my legs wouldn’t move faster than my stomach was letting me. The ramp into the stadium is beyond awesome, and thankfully there was no one stopping in front of me to enough the view. The ramp is also a decline, which I allowed to take me onto the field. At this point there was a female runner a head of me who I set my sights on to catch up to, and I almost did.

Finish
Official Finish Time 32:37
Average Pace 8’09”
Overall 965/13,590
Female 276/8,534
Age Group 53/1,265

I hugged a trash can after crossing, and was thankful no one told me to move. Nothing came up but it was just a fear until the sensation disappeared. I checked my watch and saw a sub-33:00 and was happy. Technically this was a PR, but having raced a 4 miler only once before that wasn’t really the point. I took two selfies and headed off the field while many other runners stayed for quite a while.

You don’t receive your medal, or post-race nourishment and hydration until after you exit the stadium. And that’s what I really wanted. After grabbing my medal, one water bottle, a banana and some gummy treats, I headed to the Archie Brutus for a post race picture. Then I was off for a 2 mile cool down. I had planned on 4 miles, sort of a back to back for my ultra training, but I kept that loose. I ran the course (with the G Corral walkers) but headed back towards the stadium before the Mile 2 marker. I was a gear check, changed and driving to Melt for a post-race meal by noon.

Pros:  Day of Race Packet Pick-up is always helpful. M3S Sports doesn’t like to publish or promote this fact, but as an out-of-towner, I always appreciate this convenience. Corrals and Wave Start are definitely a keeper. The corrals seemed strictly enforced too which was also nice. Having the South Stands open for real (and warm) restrooms was another added bonus. I know they were opened for spectators to watch the finish on the 50, but as a participant it’s always preferred to have indoor plumbing and a decent place to change. I love the medal; beautiful addition to my collection.

Cons: This is supposed to be a family fun event. But I was shocked at the number of “cheaters.” Not even a quarter mile into the race, I saw people with bibs obviously coming from off the course jump in. Then later as I was headed back to my car, I saw walkers cutting the course not even two miles in. This is no reflection on the race organizers, but it’s disheartening to see people cheat in a “fun” event.

Some post-race thoughts: Coming off a PR last weekend, I didn’t know what to expect coming into this race. My speed training hasn’t been perfect, so I debated what good goals would be for this shorter distance race. Now that my fall racing season is concluded, it’s time to focus and get serious about the Huff 50K in December.

I hope everyone’s fall racing season is going well. If you’re interested, you can find all of my Race Recaps here!

Thanks!

Jes

P.S. HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY BRUTUS!

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