On July 14th I ran The Ann Arbor Mile – Dart for Art and learned that racing a single mile can be just as challenging as a longer race. I am not joking at all. A one mile run where I am not worried about time? Easy! A one mile race where I running faster and harder than I thought possible? Completely different story.
About a week before the race I did a one mile test run. I spent half a mile warming up and then ran as hard as I could for one mile. I finished in 7:17. I knew that this wasn’t the fastest I could run (my 5k PR pace is faster) but with the humidity and heat it seemed to be my best effort. I was hoping that the race day excitement and presence of competitors could some how push me to a sub 7:00 mile, but figured that was a long shot.
The race was the Monday following my failed long run, this did not do much to boost my confidence. I knew I would be running on tired legs, but with my marathon being my primary objective, taking an extra rest day was not an option. The races started at 6:00 PM, but my race would not be starting until 6:20; the elite runners would be going first.
|So many goodies for such a short race (shirt, bib, finisher’s medal, Hammer Gel, lip balm, and a sticker).|
Watching the elite runners was amazing. I can not imagine being that fast. The top male, Nathan Brannen, finished in 3:54, while Sarah Boyle claimed the top women’s spot with 4:42. After watching both elite heats it was time to get in line for my own race. I lined up near the 7:00 pace sign and took a bit of comfort from the fact that this was the fastest pace sign.
When the race started I took off as fast as I could imagine and told myself to just hold that pace no matter what. I left my watch and ipod at home so I could focus solely on running. I wanted to quit after about a quarter mile, getting passed by a couple of guys pushed me to keep running. There was an elapsed time sign at the half mile mark. I glanced at it once to see if I was on pace. I saw 3:03 and knew I was ahead of pace.
The last half mile completely sucked. My legs wanted to quit; my lungs were on fire. Another guy shot past me and I forced myself to dig deeper. I almost tripped coming around the last corner, but somehow managed to stay upright. And then it was over. A volunteer was handing me my finisher’s medal (a cool ceramic medal made by a local running store) and offering to find me some water. Thank you, kind volunteer for taking such good care of me! My official chip time was 6:16.7. So much faster than I imagined was possible!
|Art tiles based on artwork by Charley Harper were the age group awards. They feature a hare to represent our swiftness.|
I even managed to turn around in time to watch my coworker finish a mere 30 seconds behind me. Then it was off to find the post race snacks and libations (doughnut holes and beer from a local brewery). I made sure to check the race results before we left, in case I had an award to claim. Unfortunately I ended up finishing in 5th place and age group awards were only 3 deep.
That night I looked at the results online and it showed me in third place in my age group. What?! It turns out that when they posted the results at the race only the top finisher had been pulled out of the results. The race actually had special awards for the top three finishers. Second and third place ended up getting pulled from the 20-29 age group which bumped me up to 3rd. Which is awesome, but I feel like I kind of cheated my way into an age group award. Fortunately I was able to contact the race coordinators and arrange to pick up my award.
I will definitely be doing this race again next year. Since it is such a short race, I don’t think that I will follow a specific training plan just for this race. However, the pace I held for this race indicates that I should be capable of a much faster 5k. I need to get to work on that! I think some 5k specific speed work next year could help lead to a new mile PR. Maybe even a sub 6:00!