My 5,280 Foot PR

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!

So much rain.

So much rain. I texted this to Matt, who was still asleep at the time. He’s glad he didn’t come to spectate!

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!

Media Mile Stats

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!!!!

Finishing the Media Mile

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!

A wet post-race selfie

Miles since last post: 28.9
Days since last post: 6
2016 MILES: 649.5
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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)