The last time I raced a mile was on August 13, 2015 when I ran just over 4 laps (1,609 meters) around the Henderson High School track. I trained hard for the inaugural Boxcar Mile and finished with an official time of 6:56. I came away from that race happy with my performance but feeling that I definitely had the potential to run faster.
My second chance to race a mile came last Saturday when I participated in the 2nd annual Media Mile hosted by 5280 Race Series. Unlike the Boxcar event, this was a road race with a gentle decline in the first half followed by a slight uphill towards the finish. The gradual climb would make this race more challenging than running on a track, but I figured that the road course would be mentally easier since I wouldn’t be running the same loop four times.
I woke up early Saturday morning, posted a quick blog recap of my last 5K, and then set off through the pouring rain to Media. I warmed up through the waterlogged town with my raincoat zipped all the way up and my hood on, side-stepping around puddles on the uneven brick sidewalks. I told myself that despite the rain the weather really wasn’t that bad. Compared to the 71° summer heat at the Boxcar Mile I’ll take 52 and rainy any day!
I shed my raincoat at 8:57am and lined up on Front Street by the county courthouse. In a moment of panic I realized that I hadn’t updated my Garmin to auto-split at the half mile, so I spent the final seconds fiddling with my watch, finishing just in time to hear Ready, Set, GO!!!
The downhill in the first quarter mile made it hard to hold back, but I knew that the finish would be ugly if I got carried away sprinting too fast. I consciously decided to let some people pass me and fell into a comfortably fast rhythm as the mid-way point approached. A man was standing at the half calling out splits… I hadn’t needed to set my watch after all! I blew through the half in 3:15. Possibly my fastest 800 meters ever and technically on pace for a 6:30 finish, but the uphill was coming!
The hill that I had spent so much time mentally preparing for seemed like it was over before I had time to think about it. I guess that’s how things go in a 1 mile race? Looking at the elevation chart, there was still a slight incline all the way to the finish, but with 600m to go I knew the worst was over.
I powered up State Street feeling strangely in control. I fell into stride behind a girl in neon green and imagined that we were in a track workout together and my job was to stay right on her heels. With a few blocks to go I realized that I could actually PASS her, so I did! I veered around her and then, sure that she would respond to my challenge, picked up my pace and never looked back.
I made the final turn into Veteran’s Square at what felt like a sprint. I was greeted by another short uphill but by that point I didn’t care: the finish clock was in sight! It was ticking away in the high 6:30s and I KNEW I was going to PR. I ran hard and crossed the line with a chip time of 6:46. A 10 second PR!!!!
I just missed an age group award but that’s OK because I ran my fastest mile ever!!! My first half was significantly faster than the second, but I think that was the right strategy given the terrain. I will definitely plan to race the Media Mile again in the future, hopefully minus the rain! 😄
My next race is tonight when I’ll be running the Rocky Run Trail 5K for the third year in a row. Then I’ll finish off the weekend at Okehocking Preserve with another 5K trail race. I’m going to be one tired runner by Sunday afternoon. Wish me luck!
Miles since last post: 28.9
Days since last post: 6
2016 MILES: 649.5