Custom Search

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Power Mile

Saturday was the Power Mile, my very first road mile (except I ran one once as a warm-up for the following 5k, but didn't race it. By the way, this is a very silly plan and you should not do it ever. But anyway, back to my real first road mile race).
My track club, the Power Milers, put this race on, so I was a little involved with the set-up and organization, too. I think it's pretty cool that we have the Power Mile: it's so hard to find a mile race in our area, and it's nice that we can give back to the running community in this way. We also have a great after-party complete with a band, beer, and food, and since we have *cash money prizes* and it's also the RRCA state one-mile championship, we get a fast field.
You should run it next year, and here's the link, put it on your calendar!
This group puts on a great race!
Just in case the group needed extra volunteers, and since David was actually volunteering anyway, we showed up two hours early. That wasn't a great idea, since I stood out in the heat for two hours prior to racing! I hadn't checked the weather, so I was shocked when the sky suddenly opened up and rain started pouring down. The kid's half-mile starts at 6:00, the open mile at 6:30, and the "elite" mile (sub-7:00 pace) is at 7:00. The downpour stopped in time for the races, but did three things:
  1. Kind of killed race-day registration. No one is coming out to race a mile in a deluge. That sucked - we ended up with under 300 runners in the mile, and I would have thought a mile race would be a good one for last-minute registrants. No training needed! 
  2. Soaked the streets. We were left with wet, slippery streets for our race, and since this race is full of turns, that added to the challenge. 
  3. Created the most miserable hot and steamy weather imaginable. As soon as the rain stopped, the sun came back out full-force, and we had high 90's with 100% humidity!
I was weirdly nervous about this race! I fiddled with my Garmin, setting it to autolap at quarter miles, and re-pinned my bib more and more crookedly. We warmed up for two miles, got to see some of the other races, and then headed toward the start. I did four strides while we were waiting and checked out the people around me. I saw right away who the woman's winner would be - a well-known miler from the area. I looked around and saw another fast girl and my two teammates who were racing. I knew all of them would be ahead of me; another friend close to my pace might be faster tonight, too, and then there were those three or four people I didn't recognize and couldn't guess pace. But I figured I'd be in top-ten women. Yet I was questioning my pace and goal. I was sweating so profusely after the warm-up that I began to consider the possibility of running 6 minutes or higher.

When we lined up, I did something I never do - I got up on the line. The start was wide enough that I wasn't worried about blocking others, and we'd have time to sort out before the first turn, so I stuck my foot right on that blue tape and waited for the gun.

BANG. And I did nothing. I stood there in shock, and then snapped back to the moment and charged forward, remembering to hit start on my Garmin as I did. The start was mayhem - immediately fast, people surging past, then me surging back past them. It seemed like I'd barely settled into a rhythm when we were already at the first quarter: 1:23. Oh, shoot, I thought, that was fast. My goal was 1:25 for a 5:40 mile. But I couldn't spend time thinking about that; we were already at the first turn. This course is kind of a "P" shape, only you do the loop twice, and it's larger the second time.
That's a lot of turning for a mile!

It's a tight turn around the neutral ground - kind of like a wide median, it's a NOLA thing - and that certainly slowed me down! Maintain this pace, I thought, and for the second quarter, I did. The cool thing about this course is that, because it's so compact, there are spectators lining every inch of the sides, and I could hear so many people cheering and calling my name as I passed! To my surprise, two women easily passed me during the second quarter, but as I started the third quarter, I passed them back - they were obviously DONE. Miles are hard to pace! I was staying fairly even, but I was glad there were clocks on the course: I kept sliding out really wide on the turns, and my Garmin was way off. But at the half-way point one of my teammates at the clock called, "2:50" and I knew I was on pace for a 5:40. The third quarter got a little more interesting as people were starting to slow. I passed several who had passed me previously, but unfortunately - just like my track miles - my third quarter was slow, a combination of letting people around me pace me (as they slowed down) and a tendency to hold back for the final quarter. But suddenly the final quarter was there - I mean, miles are SO SHORT! and I started picking back up. I was definitely on pace for 5:40, probably under if I could speed up!  And then the worst thing ever happened. As we made the final turn, I had to choose: go wide around two guys in front of me, or go inside and squeeze between them. In a split second, I went on the inside, and to my horror the guy in front flopped his arms down and gave up in defeat. It was only a few seconds, but I was boxed in, unable to sprint, and watching in shock as the clock ticked toward 5:40. I finally wriggled free, started my belated sprint, and crossed the line in 5:38, a 5-second mile PR! I was extremely pleased with that time. Neither the weather nor the course were conducive to a PR (it's flat, but there are too many turns to make this a fast race), I haven't been training for the mile at all, except for the two other (track) miles I ran, and my poor judgment at the last turn probably cost me a second.
I ended up fifth female, but to my astonishment I was 46th overall. We get some FAST milers out there! My Garmin splits were less than helpful given how far off they were (I got 1:03 Garmin, thank you corners), but they sort-of tell the story of the race: 1:23, 1:22, 1:23, 1:21. My teammates were 2nd and 4th, so we did well overall. I can't wait to get back out there next year and better this! I think if I trained I could run under 5:30 - after all, I went from 5:46 to 5:38 in just a few weeks, mostly just from getting a better feel for the distance. If I can keep my old joints working, I might be able to pull that off next year!

1 comment:

  1. Go you. I think the mile is a great race distance. So intense.