My history with the mile goes back a long way. Freshman year of high school I was a miler on the track team, breaking the 6 minute mark a few times but not every time. We had several 4 minute milers on the team, so I was just fast enough for last place in almost every track meet. In 2012 I ran the Magnificent Mile in 6:21, establishing my adult PR. My only approach for this race was to go hard, hang on for dear life, and see how close I could come to that PR. The difference in running hard at age 41 vs age 37 means there was no way I was going to beat my previous times. There should be an Over40 PR category.
|I'm ready to start. But 20 minutes before the race, nobody else is there?|
Kelley dropped me off about a mile from the starting line, and she asked if I knew of anyone else running the race. I said no, but I have yet to show up at one of these things without running into someone I knew from somewhere. Sure enough, I found QT2 Systems triathlon coach Rodney Scott first, so I knew the rest of us were going to lose. He blew out a 4:58 and took 1st place masters. Eventually I ran into about 6 other RAM teammates as well. I wasn't worried about not finding people I knew.
I got to talking to a couple of other guys at the starting line, one of whom had just returned from Australia a couple of days before. He was also hoping to be in the low 6 minute range so I felt like I was lined up in a pretty good spot.
The sprint at the start is tactical in the mile, you want to see how the field is going to spread out. I knew there were going to be lots of 4:xx finish times and I wasn't going to be one of them, but I wanted to keep those guys in my sights for as long as possible. We headed west down Hillsborough street to a traffic roundabout. I had a great sprint and was leading the pack that was just behind the pack of actual fast people. Before I knew it, there was a clock at the roundabout! It read 3:02 which was way faster than I was expecting!
It did take a good 10 or 15 seconds to get around the road furniture there. The course has a longish uphill on the first half, and that meant the back half had a longish downhill. I was kind of counting on that for a negative split. There is also a steep uphill immediately after the roundabout that would ultimately hinder that negative split.
Mentally something happens when the race (in any distance, running or swimming for me) is between about 55% to 70% complete. My mind goes into autopilot and everything settles into a specific form. In a 5k this is why the 2nd mile is always the slowest. This time it happened on the downhill part, which shouldn't have cost me any time.
After the downhill you come around a curve and the finish line comes into sight. Then you keep pushing, and eventually you can read the numbers - I saw 6:15 and thought I had a chance to get my PR. Eventually "running form" turns into "holy crap get there sprint" just to get you to the finish as fast as possible.
I hit the finish line in 6:28, not too bad for a 41 year old! I'll take that result any day. Finished 4th of 8 in my age group, missed an award by 2 seconds. 52/97 overall.
Overall this was a really fun race for a sunday afternoon. The finish line and awards were at the State of Beer near downtown Raleigh, so we all stuck around for a few hours drinking beer. I forgot how much it hurts to run a mile fast like that, and I also hope I get the chance to do it again next year.