Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Going Under 5: Timed Mile Attempt # 6

Hello Runners!,
Today is the day, the day I make running history - that is, my personal running history. I am going for under 5 minutes in the mile, or I should say, I went for under 5 minutes in the mile as I already did the timed mile earlier today.

It was a good day for running.  Temperatures around 70 degrees, a light wind and partly cloudy.  I met Eddie out at the track around 6pm.  We did a 2 mile warm-up together around Memorial Park, discussing tactics for the race.  TACTICS: There are really 2 main strategies to run a timed mile.  Tactic #1: Run the first 2 laps a few seconds faster than goal time and then try to hang on for the last 2 laps, or Tactic #2: Start of slightly slower than goal pace and try to run negative splits.

I prefer tactic #1, as a mile is a short race and I feel it's difficult to run negative splits. The plan was to go out in 73 seconds for the first lap, and come through the half mile mark around 2:27.  This would give a 3 second "slow down" for the final two laps.  The idea would be to then try the third lap in 75 seconds, and give'r everything on the final lap, hopefully going under 75 seconds, resulting in the coveted 4:5x mile time.  Eddie agreed that this would be the best strategy go under 5.  He had just done a few difficult workouts in the days leading up to today and wasn't sure if he had a sub-5 mile in him today.  He told me he could give me 3 good laps but couldn't guarantee a solid fourth.  This was fine with me.  I asked him to try to  give me 3 laps + the first turn on the final lap and I could take over from there. All this talk of race strategy started to get me a little nervous, although I was also confident I could do it. 

Kennedy's Racing flats
Race Time: After the warm-up I switched shoes, breaking out the old Kennedy's track flats, the first time I'd worn them in years.  They were like feathers on my feet. To finish the warm-up, Eddie likes to run two 200m at race pace to allow him to get a feel for the pace.  I like to run 100m building up my pace, then 200m at pace, and jogging the final 100m to the start line.  We both did our pre-race ritual and went to the start.  We placed our toes on the line.  Eddie looked at me and asked if I was ready.  I gave him a nod.  1... 2... 3... go!  Eddie was off like a bat-out-of-hell.  Holy crap was this pace fast!  I felt like I was sprinting to keep up with him around the first turn.  I tried to relax on the backstretch and stay one step behind.  We came through the first lap in 73.4 seconds.  Right were we want to be.  I took a brief look at my watch and when I looked up it seemed Eddie had put a small gap on me.  I tried to pick up my pace, but I was still two strides behind.  I couldn't close it.  We hit the backstretch of lap two again and I once again mentally told myself to relax... feel the race.  There was a slight headwind on the homestretch and I could feel it in my face as I'd let a small gap form between Eddie and me.  Lap #2: 75.2.  It was a little slower that I wanted but it still brought us through the half mile in under 5 minute pace.  

As many milers may tell you, the third lap often makes or breaks your mile.  The breathing is heavy, the legs are getting tired, and it's not easy to keep up the pace.  As a matter of fact, you have to run harder to keep up the pace.  This is where many milers go wrong.  They feel like they are running the same pace, but have actually slowed down due to fatigue. I didn't want to let this happen to me.  I knew I had to dig deep and push.  I put in more effort.  I pushed hard.  I still couldn't close the gap with Eddie.  I was now three paces back.  My breathing was heavy, my legs were burning, but I kept pushing down the backstretch and around the turn.  My split for lap #3: 75.2.  I'm still about 1 second under pace.  One second.  That's it.  I followed Eddie around the turn.  He pulled off into lane two and waved me on.  I couldn't do it.  I tried to pick up my pace, but with a three step lead, I couldn't pass him.  I slowly caught him on the backstretch and came up beside him with just under 200 meters to go.  He was hurting, I could tell, but I think I was hurting even more.  He said three words to, three words that would help me get to the finish.  "You got this."  I drove with my arms and lifted my knees, getting into sprint mode.  I fired as hard as I could down the homestretch, the finish line in site.  My vision seemed to be getting blurry, my legs on fire, my lungs grasping for every bit of oxygen.  I hit the finish line and stopped my watch.  Final lap: 75 seconds, flat.  My time: 4:58.7


I did it!!  I couldn't believe it.  I threw my arms in the air.  I could hear Eddie yell behind me.  He came up to me, gave me a high five and a hug.  Wow!  I couldn't believe it.  What a huge personal accomplishment.  My summer goal to break 5 minutes in the mile, accomplished!  A running barrier I had never before previously broken, accomplished.  This feeling, was a runners high I enjoyed.  Of course, I have to give huge thanks to Eddie for pacing me, and to Jay, my best friend, for training with me all summer.  It would have been awesome if he could have been present to run with me. 

Eddie and I after the mile.
Post Race Meal: I decided to celebrate with some good ol' junk food.  I had a serious craving for a Culver's shake, so I stopped by and had a Butter Burger, french fries, and a chocolate shake to celebrate.  It was an AMAZING post mile run meal.  
My post race dinner:
A Bacon & Cheese Butter Burger, french fries,
and chocolate shake from Culvers.  

Final Thoughts: I guess this is my final entry for this blog post, that is, until I try again next year - if I try. I hope you've enjoyed reading some of my entries. I've enjoyed writing my first blog ever throughout the summer.  Perhaps you've even learned a thing or two about training for a mile.  I'm not saying my strategy was the best, or even most efficient  but it got me to my goal.  I'm always learning as a runner, always discovering new things about myself, about training, and about how to become a better runner.  I've always enjoyed running and I hope I can continue to do so for many years to come.  As always, good night, and good luck... running that is!


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