Last weekend I ran the Polar Cap 4-miler in Lake George for the third time. Back in 2008 it was only the second race I’d ever run (time: 34:10). Last year I was ecstatic when I won my division — the first time doing so (27:12).
Before last Saturday my PR at the 4-mile distance was 26:24, which I ran last March on a fast, flat course on a warm, sunny day. Last Saturday was completely opposite conditions — a hilly, snowy course with 14 MPH winds and a “feels like” temperature of -2 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite the crazy cold and wind, I couldn’t have asked for a much better race.
I came out strong, but not too fast, knowing most of the first mile was uphill (6:39 pace). In the second mile, which is mostly downhill with another climb at the end, other runners were starting to fade, feeling the effects of that starting hill (6:31). For most of the first couple miles I was running with a pack of a few other guys, and we took turns drafting off of one another.
Somewhere in the third mile one of the guys from the pack and I surged ahead, and continued to run neck and neck for the remainder of the race (I couldn’t believe he was running in that cold without a hat). Mile 3 pace: 6:45, the slowest of the day.
From about Mile 2.8 to Mile 3.3 is a steady uphill climb. My competitor pulled ahead on the uphill, but I kept him in sight, knowing that the final half-mile or so was mostly flat. In the last downhill with about 800 meters to go, I made my move, recalling my fast finish from the previous year. I passed my competitor and thought I had sealed the deal.
Little did I know, he had an even stronger finishing kick than I did (and I love that final sprint to the finish). As we turned the final corner and the finish line came into sight with about 400 meters to go, my competitor pulled ahead yet again. I noticed his racing flats and dug deep, still thinking I could catch him.
But I was out of steam. My competitor beat me by 4 seconds, taking 2nd in our division, and leaving me with a 3rd in division finish. I couldn’t complain: I had just set a PR of 26:18 with a fast Mile 4 — the fastest of the day (6:23) — and would soon by taking home a sweet snowflake pin as my award.
Mile splits (view Garmin data):
|Split||Time||Avg Speed||Max Speed||Avg HR||Max HR||Calories|