On Saturday, July 5th I ran in the Freedom 4 Miler Race in Forest Park in St. Louis. This is the third year they have done this race and the first year it has been in Forest Park. I wasn’t living in St. Louis the inaugural year of this race, but I did participate in it last year and really enjoyed it, so I have been looking forward to running this race.
On Thursday, I went to the running store for the packet pickup where I picked up Justin and my shirts and bibs for race day. I liked the shirt much better this year because it was white and it didn’t have a weird smell to it that the shirts had last year. (I have no clue what the smell is, similar to the smell of a cardboard box, but no matter how many times I wash the shirt- it’s still there!)
The race took place at 7AM Saturday, so I woke up about 5:30AM to get ready. This was a little hard to do because we got back late the night before from celebrating the 4th at Justin’s parents house, and I was a little full from all the sweets I had the day before! But I drank my Spark and had a banana and some aspirin and felt ready to go for the race. Even though I liked the race shirt, I opted to wear my Grandma’s Marathon Finisher’s Shirt which was the perfect colors – Red, White and Blue! And I can’t lie, I also felt pretty cool showing off my Marathon Finisher’s shirt at the race 🙂
We got to the race about 6:30AM and the parking was much easier than we thought it might be. We walked over to the start line, stretched out a bit and then just waited around for the race to start. At 7AM, a giant Humvee drove up to the start, which meant we were about ready to start. Right before the National Anthem played, I felt a tap on my shoulder so I turned around. The man said “So how did you like Grandma’s Marathon?!” and then pointed to his half marathon shirt from that same race! I thought that was so cool that someone at this race was also in Duluth just a few weeks ago!
The National Anthem played and then the announcer wished us all good luck and to have a safe race. Justin and I wished each other well and then we were off!
The first part of the race I felt pretty strong and was running at a really fast pace for myself. At .5 miles, my Nike app told me I was at a 7:15/mile pace, so I knew I would have to slow down a bit so that I wouldn’t burn out too fast. I slowed down just a bit and was probably running more around a 7:45/mile pace for the first mile and a half. Then something horrible happened – my sound stopped working on my phone which meant that not only could I not hear my Nike app giving me my pace every .5 miles, but I also could not hear my music at all! Unfortunately, my phone is getting old and this has been happening a lot lately, but I was really mad this happened in the middle of my race (but very thankful this did not happen in the marathon!)
I knew there was nothing I could do about it, and that I would just have to push past this annoyance and go on with the rest of the race. When you are used to listening to music while running, it is a very different experience to only hear your feet hitting the ground and heavy breathing! I tried to think of other things to distract myself, and I also just kept telling myself to keep going and give it my all.
The race course was pretty nice because Forest Park has beautiful views, the only part that kind of was boring was when we were running straight on Lindell Boulevard for about a mile with not much to see besides big houses. Finally we turned and then went over a small bridge and started to approach the finish line. From kind of far away I could see the finish line and the clock that said 31 minutes on it. Although I had not really thought about it before, once I saw that time I really thought it would be cool to finish under 32 minutes, so I knew I could not quit now and really had to push hard so I could reach this goal.
I sprinted towards the finish and my gun time said about 32:08, so I knew I would be close to under 32 minutes since I started several seconds after the gun went off to start the race. After finishing, we got a little dog-tag medal, and then I waited around just a minute or so until Justin crossed. Once he finished, we headed over to a little tent that had computers set up so we could find out our exact time.
To my excitement, I checked my time and I was below 32 minutes! JUST below at 31:59! It felt really cool to have a just below 8-minute/mile pace, and I was very happy because it was about 6 minutes faster than my time at this race last year when I had a 37:57 time (and I remember being extremely happy about this time!).
I was also really happy because in my division (Female 20-29) I placed pretty well at 9th out of 102, 22nd out of 378 females overall, and 121st out of 696 people overall. Not bad at all!
I definitely think this will be a race I will do every year, as it is a fairly short distance, a pretty good price ($30), and a fun race to do around the 4th of July holiday. Hopefully next year I will be able to improve again, and continue to get better and faster.