Though I have been avoiding "distance" events until after USATF Masters Outdoor Nationals, the 4th of July is an exception. One always has to go out and celebrate properly. This year, I returned to one I'd run a few times in the past: Carrboro’s Four on the Fourth, presented by the Cardinal Track Club. The race starts and ends at McDougle Middle School on Old Fayetteville Rd. Always a nice event, with a good turnout, it did not disappoint. I was disappointed that I did not see as many patriotic costumes as in the past. Perhaps it was the headgear that was lacking. A few had bumble-bee-like stalks with stars, but no Uncle Sam hats were evident.
I got there a little late for a decent warm-up, but I intended this to be a casual outing any way. I picked up my race number, along with the jar of Little Red Wagon cinnamon-raisin granola given to all entrants. Nice, huh; another unique aspect to the Cardinal Track Club Four on the Fourth. There are two other Le Tour de Carrboro signature races: Carrboro 10K (October) and Thanksgiving day’s Gallop and Gorge 8K. I may have to try these this year just to see what goodies are given out.
I lined up on Old Fayetteville Rd near some other Carolina Godiva Track Club runners. (Many live in the surrounding area.) Next to me was a legitimate fireman, in all of his gear, including tank on the back. (Only the young and slightly wacky would dare run so swaddled in the heat of the summer. But then, these guys fight hot fires in the hottest weather, don’t they!) I later heard that, prior to race start, a whiny runner complained about the heat – until this fireman walked by! At 8 a.m. race start, it was 72°, dew point at 67°, and a wonderfully drippy humidity of 84%. Winds varied from over 3 to 5 miles during the next hour.
Off we went.
I lost sight of the fireman as I tried to take photos off to the side, ahead of me, and behind (hold camera up, point back, and hope for a surprise!) As I said, I was not planning to really race. To my right was farmland-like looking land (turned out to be a park). Carrboro retains a small town feel (population about 21,000) with homes varying from modest size to classical old Victorian style, on nice slices of land. (Some small farms are hidden in outlying areas.) This is an art hub, with an independent streak, not surprising as many folk are affiliated with UNC Chapel Hill.
We ran a little ways along Old Fayetteville Rd before turning left onto tree shaded residential Carol St. A few people watched us go by. The runners streamed out ahead, along a long downhill dip followed by a short uphill.
With a slight left then short trot to a right onto Hillsborough St, we entered a mostly flat route. Older, larger, homes lined this road. While on Carol St, I had already passed one lady I knew was in my age group. (Though I was not really in competitive mode, I thought that she had previously beaten me in some race, so I wanted to, well, beat her!) This flat area was welcome because I knew it would not last. Where Hillsborough St converged with W. Main St, we made a sharp right onto W. Main.
I was beginning to feel an energy drain. I did not run this course last year, so did not recall exactly how much farther we had, but it felt as if we’d gone at least three miles. To say I was disappointed when we came upon the two mile sign does not cover it! My remaining energy sapped away in a hurry. That's the mental give up and just finish point. (Just like in track, specifically the 400m, when you know you can not possibly get to the Finish!) And of course, at this point, there was a slight uphill incline to the roadway. Ugh. We came to another right, onto James St. More homes and now few runners ahead of me.--one way to tell one is either lagging behind – or way in front! In my case, lagging! Only one fellow, in patriotic shorts, ahead. I used some reserves to catch up long enough to take a photo and then backed off.
With a left back onto Carol St, now facing the uphill aspect of the earlier downhill, I walked and slow jogged. To my left, some folks partied with music pouring forth from a home set downhill and back from the road. It was still before 9 a.m., so I wondered if they were drinking plain coffee, or coffee spiked with some historical alcoholic additive, or morning beer (a John Adams blend for the 4th?)
Finally, back onto Old Fayetteville Rd. Slogging at this point. It was still a long way to the school from my perspective.
|croaking, struggling to get to end|
Once there, I passed through areas of relaxing runners, walking around with their after race goodies. Down the steps and onto the track for the ending 300m or so. Responding to the calls from a running pal to run, I began sprinting – and got maybe 200m before running out of oxygen and gasping to a walk! I rounded the last curve and made the effort for the finish, racing another lady to the line. Done! Dripping wet now. The track area was crowded with runners, eating watermelon, drinking water, and talking. I ate several slices of watermelon, of which there was plenty. I also managed to get one of the last boxes of Bitsy’s Brain Food’s orange, chocolate, and beet “smart cookies”! (Told you Carrboro was a brainy, artsy, place!) Yes, they were yummy! I also found the coffee, but, alas, there were no cups left, only lids, so I added a little to my bottle of water. (Not very tasty.)
The awards were presented. Victor Omelas (29) ran the four miles in 21:49.84 and Meredith Hale (28) did it in 24:55.35. 756 folks participated in the event with times from 21:49 to 01:16:05. By the way, the fireman finished in 44:49. Incredible. Surely, he lost five to eight pounds of sweat. Ah, yes. True story. One young girl, 15, while running along one of the residential streets, was surprised by a deer that popped out from between homes. The deer, startled at the encounter, jumped onto her back, knocking her down before running off. Despite this – she got third in her age group! I could see two smudged hoof prints on her back as she turned after accepting her award.
Each age group winner got a bag of Carrboro Coffee Roasters freshly roasted Open Eye Awards blend Four on the Fourth coffee beans (something to race very hard for!) and a small, handle less, Janet Resmik made pottery cup, which one could use to consume the coffee.