At the last minute, I decided to run the Decatur DeKalb 4 Miler. The race was early Saturday morning, and it offered me the opportunity to get my legs churning one last time before my upcoming dance with the Jack & Jill Downhill Marathon. I didn't have any goals for this race, and I wasn't, at all, familiar with the course. Also, the day before I decided to run 13 miles at a pretty quick pace; I wanted to see how I could perform in a short distance race after a hard mid-long run effort... somewhat reenacting the feel of the later miles of a marathon.
I woke up that morning to my usual breakfast - a combination of fruit, a carb (usually bagel), and some coffee. After a quick breakfast I hopped in the car and hit the road for the race.
The course was hilly, the weather was hot, and the air was humid, but I still loved this race and the race course. Perhaps it was good that I did not have any familiarity with the course; if I had, there's a chance that I would have skipped this one. This course had more than its fair share of hills, and it impacted everyone. The good thing is that from the beginning of the race, I quickly found a pack of about four guys that I stayed with for most of the course.
Here are my splits:
The chart above is somewhat misleading in that it masks the elevation changes along this course. While the elevation at the end of each mile doesn't vary much, the intra-mile variation was real. Here's a break down of the course:
Mile 1 (6:13 pace)
The first mile of the race featured the least elevation change and was a net downhill mile. As a result, my first mile split was the fastest. Because of the mostly downhill nature of this mile, I was able to get into a rhythm quickly without an immediate spike in heart rate. It was during this mile that I also found my cohort of runners that I ended up hanging with for the vast majority of the race.
Mile 2 (6:33 pace)
The second mile brought out the hills. This mile was split almost evenly - the first half of it was all uphill, while the second half was completely downhill. So while I slowed a bit at the beginning of the mile, I was able to gain a lot of my time back on the downhill portion.
Mile 3 (6:27 pace)
The third mile was literally the inverse of the previous mile. The first half was all downhill, while the second half was all uphill. It was at this point that I saw the break in my little group of four. Two of the guys fell back a bit and the remaining guy kept changing place with me. I am a very good downhill runner, so I passed him on every downhill. He was a very good uphill runner, so he consistently caught and passed me on the uphills. But for the most part, we ran together.
Mile 4 (6:25 pace)
Mile 4 was a mostly flat mile. I do pretty good at flat, so I was able to pick up the pace just a notch during the final mile while many others were fading. Passing exhausted people also gives me a bit of a surge of energy since I know the finish line is approaching with every step.
I finished the course in 25:48, good for 45th place (out of 1,287).
I really enjoyed this race. First of all, it was free to all Atlanta Track Club members; that alone, is enough to get me excited. But even though the race was free, ATC didn't slack on the amenities. There was generous course support, free water and electrolytes, and bagels were offered post-race. I'll definitely be back for this one in the years to come.