Monday, September 19, 2016

One Tough Mile

Shouldn't a short race have a short race report? On 9/11/16 I ran the Oak City Mile, a 1 mile running race in downtown Raleigh NC. Oak City Mile replaced the Magnificent Mile when they decided to stop doing it for some reason a few years ago. It's literally a reverse of the course, same start/finish line, but they run away from the Capital building instead of towards it.

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.

Registration area

I'm ready to start. But 20 minutes before the race, nobody else is there?

The race was smaller than I expected. At the Mag Mile there was at least 200 people running. This felt like about 50 men at the start (actual: 97 finishers). Before the start I got in a nice warmup, then ran into some friends from my swim team. Some were running, some were only spectating.

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.

The women's race was next, my friend Blakely finished in 5:46 for a nice PR. She also had a 15 mile run earlier in the day. Another friend Alan also finished with a 5:17. Clearly I need to get slower friends. They are both 28 years old. I don't feel bad at all about being slower than 28 year olds. And for the record, I make them all look slow in the pool.

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.

1 comment:

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Nice work! I think there should def be a new category for PRs once you hit 40. The group that puts on the TC marathon puts on a 1 mile race in May. It's usually on Nicollet Mall which is the main road that goes through the center of downtown. It's a huge race because a lot of people do it to increase their odds of getting into the 10 mile race that is held on the morning of the marathon. They give a certain number of milers an entry into the 10 mile (you still pay for the 10 mile race, though). I've done it twice and after the last time I was like - nope, never again. I suck at the mile. The last time I did it, my time for that mile was slower than some of my splits during a half marathon. I just can't run hard and fast for a mile. Even warming up doesn't seem to make a difference for me!