Thursday, August 7, 2014

I Love the Track! (1 mile Race Report)

My running roots go way back to high school, so some of my fondest memories were made on the track. Then for decades I hardly ever saw the track, just the occasional visit to do some intervals. But last year I joined a speedy group that does track workouts every week, and I rekindled the romance.

One of my goals for years has been to do a one-mile race on the track, and see if I can get under six minutes. Five years ago I was happy to do one under 7:00. In the last few years I have done mile repeats in the 6:30-6:50 range. With the increased track work lately, I figured it was just a matter of doing enough speed work and then finding a race. Well, I haven't done a whole lot of speed work this year, but when a race came along, I jumped on the opportunity. I figured I could at least see where I was at.

In our group is a pair of twins that are my age, the Silva brothers. They have been racing since high school and are founding members of this group that has been around for 30+ years. They have a tradition of racing each other on their birthday for 1 mile. It has evolved into "The Silva Brothers Mile" - a race open to all, and a fixture on the calendar. All the top runners in the area show up (many near my age group). There were about 50 people in the race - all running at the same time.

Coach Ed sent us through some warmup laps, including 8 100s and 4 200s of pickups. I skipped some of these and didn't push it too hard. No need to wear myself out! Total was 2.5 miles of warmup. Then we all headed to the line and got ready to race. The starting line was backed up 9 meters to make it a true 1 mile instead of 1600 meters. I got behind all the speedy types and found some of my training partners that I knew were near my pace.

My goal was sub-6, and my plan was to hit 90 seconds per lap and keep it there, and see what I had left at the end. I never checked my watch, just went by the coach reading splits each lap.

And we're off! It was a little crowded around the first curve, but I amazingly found a slot and moved into lane 1. Surprisingly everyone settled into place very quickly and I didn't have to waste any energy passing or jostling. I settled in behind a guy that I often train with - we are about the same speed, and I know he's a good pacer. It felt just right. Quick, but not too quick. I relaxed and stayed in position for the whole lap. I had no idea of my pace, so I was hoping there would not be a surprise after lap 1 (either too fast or too slow). I heard him counting out 1:22, 1:23 while I was still up the track. Sounded good. I hit lap 1 in about 1:31. Excellent.

Lap two I stayed behind my pacer who was running strong. We were starting to pass some people who had gone out too fast. I felt good and concentrated on maintaining form. Long way to go still. It always feels good to be catching people - keeps the momentum up. Came through lap 2 at 3:01. Perfect.

Lap 3 is always the toughest in a mile. I remember them from high school as a big suffer-fest, and it was always my slowest lap. But not today! I still felt good, and when my pacer seemed to slow a little, I moved on by. This gave me a little more momentum. I figured he did enough work for today. I would lead for a while and he could chase me. My breathing got heavier and I was working hard, but the legs were OK. No lactic acid yet! Found a lady runner ahead of me to chase. Came through in 4:29. Yes!

OK, sub 6 was in the bag now. I knew I could run a faster last lap. Now I was just having fun and racing! Just like in workouts, I noticeably picked it up for the last lap and started chasing people down. With about 200 meters left I was ready to pass a girl, but we were catching the first lapped runners and it got a little crowded. I weaved my way through and charged by her into the last curve at full speed. Now I just had to sprint to the finish.

Then here comes my pacer guy, blowing by me easily with 80 meters to go! Well, good for him! I passed one more person on the way in and cruised through the finish in 5:52. Sub-6 smashed! Garmin showed my last .05 miles at 4:48 pace.

Phew! I was wiped out, but once I caught my breath I felt great! I never "really" suffered out there, so I know I can go faster. No rigor mortis, no dry heaving, no wanting to die and quit. So obviously I didn't go hard enough! But I nailed my plan and my goal, so I was ecstatic! I cooled down with a few laps and chatted with some people. Then watched as many people did a beer mile.

The beer mile wasn't that exciting to watch actually. I don't really see the point. But the winner ran 6:02, including beer drinking time, so that was impressive. Nobody puked.

Anyway, I went home in a great mood, which has lingered now into the next day. I love the track! I'm tempted to go to the all-comers meet tonight at our other neighborhood track, and do it again! But I guess I'll save it. I do have a 10K in 2 days.

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