Friday, August 12, 2016

One Fast Mile

My track group has an annual event called the Silva Brothers' Mile. It is on or near the birthday of these twin brothers that have been racing each other in the mile for about 40 years. They are my age (54), and one brother has won every single year. But the tradition continues, and it is a festive atmosphere, with maybe 30 people coming to watch, and a second beer mile after the fast one. T-shirts are made and sold. No official results. Just a chance to run a hard mile.

Here's some of our good looking and speedy group.
We warmed up just like our weekly workout, with 4 easy laps and then 4 laps of short accelerations. Then one 200 at race pace and a little jog and it was race time!

Warmup strides.
Since this was a true mile and not 1600, coach marked a line 9.34 meters back from the finish line. I didn't have much time to get nervous as we gathered up at the start and got ready to roll.

My B goal was to go sub-6. My only other mile race in the last 20 years was when I ran this race two years ago and surprised myself with a 5:52. I felt I had a good shot to break that time too. My A goal splits were 90, 89, 88, 84, which would be 5:51. I felt pretty confident of sub-6 and would be disappointed if I missed it, but 5:50 seemed scary for some reason.

Anyway, off we went.
I stayed in lane one and settled in to my spot behind the people I'm normally behind, and ahead of the people I normally beat. Checked my watch twice during lap one to be sure I was near 6:00 pace. Yep.

At the end of lap one I had space around me. A gap of 5-8 meters ahead of me and no one too close behind me. I would stay in that position for two more laps. The guy just ahead of me was a guy that normally beats me, but not by too much, so I was focusing on staying close to  him.

Lap one was 90. Right on track and feeling good.
Lap two was about maintaining the pace. Starting to feel like work now. But I felt like a well-tuned machine - locked into my pace. Just keep pounding. A little more strain showing here as I hit 1/2 mile in 3:00.

Still, focused and steady.

As I entered lap three I knew I needed to push a little harder. I had just run a 3:00 half, but I wasn't dying, and there really wasn't that far to go...This is a race, after all!  It hurt, but it was more like workout pain than race pain. Yet I was on track for sub-6 since I knew I would finish strong, so I didn't feel the need to jump into the pain cave.

But the breathing started to get much harder in lap three. I was working hard now. As I closed on lap 3 I noticed the guy ahead of me was getting closer. Yet I wasn't dying. No lactic acid yet. Went through in 4:30. Dang. Time to shift gears and push it.

I rolled strongly past the guy on the first curve and drank his tears. Then I could see a few more people ahead. I was able to accelerate and it felt good! I blew past some people that were a lap behind and saw my friend Eva up ahead. She should be beating me easily like she does in practice, but she was fading bad and I could tell I could catch her. That helped me push hard down the back-straight and around the last curve. I flew by her and another guy and pounded down the home stretch. The legs still felt strong. No dying. No lactic. No wanting to quit.

Hit the finish in 5:52. An 82 second last lap to tie my AGPR. Yet this was definitely easier than the last one. Once I got my wind back I felt fine. I really wanted to do another one. Only faster. A little disappointed because I knew I could have pushed harder in those middle laps. I felt I could have run at least 5 seconds faster. But mainly I was happy for a great race. Another sub-6 at my age - I'll take it. Just wish there was another mile race I could find...

Another tradition is the second race - a beer mile. I skipped it because I can't chug beer. But it was fun to watch.

The winner ran 6:31. The same guy had just done a 5:05 in the regular mile, and got 4th. Amazing. The winner was 4:55 in the regular mile. Then we all went off to a local pizza place for pizza and more beer. Fun times.

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