Boxcar Mile

When was the last time you raced a single mile? Before last Thursday, my only attempt at the mile was in 2003. I was a senior in high school and had just torn my ACL, meaning that I wasn’t able compete in my usual hurdles or jumping events. I still wanted to participate in my final season of high school track so I attempted the mile (ouch!!) before resorting to shot put for a few weeks. I don’t remember my exact mile finish time, but I think it’s safe to say that between my lack of preparation for that distance and knee injury there’s no way that I finished in less than 8:30.

High school hurdles. Luckily there are no photos of my super slow high school mile!!!

High school hurdles. Luckily there are no photos of my super slow high school mile!!!

Fast forward to 2015. I now consider the 5K to be a routine race distance and haven’t raced anything shorter than 2 miles in years. It’s rare for any local race to be less than a 5K, so when I got this email in mid-July I was immediately intrigued:

RunCCRS Boxcar Mile Email

Yes… a SINGLE MILE ON A TRACK (!!), at a local high school. Basically an exact repeat of my 2003 event, except this time I would be way better prepared. I signed up and put down a seed time of 6:55… maybe wishful thinking for an August race, but hopefully not too far out of reach.

Thursday, August 13th arrived before I knew it. My heat of the Inaugural Boxcar Mile was scheduled to start at 7:05PM and I eagerly toed the mile start line with 24 other runners. I had a fairly detailed plan for such a short race, with each quarter mile broken down by goal time (1:38, 3:25, 5:08, 6:50). Here’s how things turned out:

Boxcar Mile Stats_

As usual, I went out a little too quickly. I immediately realized this at the 200m (1/8 mile) mark when I saw that I was on pace for a 6:07 mile. Whoops! I dialed my pace back slightly but still went through the quarter and half a little fast. As I expected, the third lap was the hardest. I tried to keep up my pace but slipped a little from my goal time, going through the ¾ mile mark in 5:11.

1132 Digging deep in the last lap

It all came down to the final lap. I gritted my teeth (literally, see above photo) and dug deep for some extra speed. As I rounded the final turn I could see the clock ticking away in the high 6:30s… better hurry up!! I found some tiny last bit of energy and ran as hard as I could through the finish, crossing the line in 6:56.52. Sub-7:00!!!!

Mile Finish!!

It certainly wasn’t easy, but I was VERY happy to squeak in under that 7:00 mark. I think I can run even faster, especially in cooler weather with a smarter first lap. Now if only there were more mile races around here!

After the amateur “Citizens Races” were over, the pros came out for the real show. The Boxcar Mile is part of the nationwide Bring Back the Mile race series and Thursday’s race sponsors were offering more than $8000 (!!) in prize money to professional runners who beat specific qualifying times. Cool! We watched and cheered as the pros battled it out on the track, with three woman finishing sub-4:37 and three men flying through the finish in less than 4 minutes!

Watching these amazing runners zoom around the track was really inspiring (but also made me feel really slow, HA!). I loved witnessing this level of talent at a local venue and the experience felt extra special because I had also just raced a mile around the very same track. I will definitely run the Boxcar Mile again next year and highly recommend it to anyone in the area… even if it’s just to come out and watch the pros!

When was the last time YOU raced a mile?

Miles since last post: 119.6
Days since last post: 26
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.82
2015 MILES: 1079.4

Past Races:
•  June ’15: Media 5 Mile (6/19)
•  May ’15: Broad Street 10 Mile Run (5/3), Rocky Run Trail 5K (5/15), Victory 5K (5/17)
•  April ’15: Tyler Trail 10K (4/11), Empower the Children 5K (4/18), Haverford Twilight 5K (4/26)
•  March ’15:
Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21), Pickle Run #3 (3/28)
•  February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
•  January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
•  December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5), Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7), Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
•  November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1)  [PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
•  October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
•  September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
•  August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [PR]
•  July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18)
•  June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
•  May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
•  April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/, Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
•  March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
•  February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
•  January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
•  December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [PR]
•  November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
•  October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [PR]
•  September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
•  The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)

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28 thoughts on “Boxcar Mile

  1. A mile is so tough! There are a number of running clubs that put on “track meets” so you get a chance to race unusual distances, such as the 400 meters and the mile. I haven’t ran a mile around a track in a couple of years. The third lap is the hardest for me mentally because I’m tired, but there’s still a lot left to go. Last year I did the 5th Ave Mile, which is super fun. It’s a point-to-point with a net decline. Whee!

    • Racing a 400 would be pretty neat. (Anything shorter and I’d probably hurt myself!!) I think the 4 would be the longest distance I could do without having to worry about pacing which is usually the hardest part of a race for me. I did find one track meet in my area earlier this summer but it was set up as a multi-distance challenge where everyone had to do a 100, 200, 400, 800 and then either a mile or 2 mile. That was way too hardcore for me so I’ll have to keep an eye out for a less extreme track meet. 🙂

  2. Mile races sound painful but I’d love to do one since they’re so rare. I did a one mile June challenge this past summer but it’s so hot here, I like to think it wasn’t an accurate representation of what I could do, lol!!

    Those picture are so awesome! You looks so fierce!

    • I was totally thinking about your June mile challenge when I signed up for this! I think that’s a fun idea to run a time trial at the beginning and end of a set training period but I agree, running it in bazillion-degree heat doesn’t really seem like a fair assessment. 🙂

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