Tuesday, August 3

VTS Race #6: the Mile (again)

There are certain events in life where familiarity or experience can help bread a sense of calm. Competing in the mile isn’t one of them. And so it was that on a warm Saturday evening in late July, I found myself again pacing nervously, almost painfully as I waited to be called to the line.


Unlike last time there was no hesitation upon hearing the sound of the gun, rather the sharp noise brought almost instantaneous relief. Bolting clear from the line I immediately found myself out front and for the duration of the event was unaware of the other competitors. As I rounded the first corner and despite strangely heavy legs, I repeatedly told myself to slow down knowing that the initial rush that accompanies the burning off of the excitement and fear would soon be over.

Much like last time, the first 200m went by dizzily fast. I glanced at my watch, 37.5... and again much like last time, I had difficulty finding meaning in the split. The additional 9m at the beginning made the opening leg meaningless.

I heard the crowd as I passed the start, alone, the announcer educating the spectators that if I were to continue this pace I ‘may’ sneak under 5:00. I also heard for the first and last time a single high-pitched voice, “go daddy, go”.

“… 1:15 …”

I rounded the corner again and began my journey down the backstretch for the second time. It was about after 500m that it started... the all too familiar acid strain, my systems beginning to panic, organs shutting down for the duration. My legs started to get the first wave of lactic numbness. I don’t recall much else but a numbed sense of hurting.

“… 2:30 …”

Starting the third lap, I was really feeling it now, a sense of fear and dread knowing that I still had a long way to go. Just before the 1,000m mark I started my kick. Probably nothing noticeable but I didn’t want to slip off the pace. My shoulders now ached.

As I sped down the homestraight, the lactic acid was boiling. I remember the announcer, Paul telling the crowd that I was still on pace for a sub-5:00 mile, an important and hard fought barrier for the mile. Then the bell rang out.

“… 3:45 ...”

I rounded the corner and ran onto the backstretch for the last time. With about 200m remaining I was finally tying up. I was fighting fiercely to maintain form, trying valiantly to lift my ears off my shoulders. I recalled something Ron had yelled during the final lap of my last race and with great effort and determination pumped my arms fiercely. I pumped harder still, trying to concentrate as my headed rocked.

I could see the clock in the distance. Paul had the crowd cheering, as I tried to make sense of the number. I knew it would be close. I was completely numb, a world of pain. I would find out later that I crossed the line with a time of 5:00.5, half a second off my goal. It looks like I’m going to have to wait for until next season to have a crack at this again. Bugger. That said, I didn’t walk away empty handed as I won an adidas watch. Oh, and next time, I’m running in the elite race... although I would’ve come last I can only hope I that by chasing someone’s coattail I might have found the time I needed.

Training: VTS #6: mile, 5:00.5, 3:06/km, 5:00/mi, 1st OA


Love2Run said...

Oy! That hurts but it must be a PB!? Chasing and/or drafting someone would have saves 10% or so wouldn't it?

Michael said...

Yes, a PB and for that I'm glad. I'd be happy with less than 10%. I failed to mention that I had to run around two people, do you think that cost me any time?

Thanks for the comments.

Anonymous said...

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Thomas said...

Wow! That is a very vivid description of the mile - and really not enticing me to do it (but then again, I off the other end of the spectrum).

That's a heck of a time, especially considering you were out there in front all on your own.

Grellan said...

Gripping read Michael. I felt the pain. Very consistent even pacing - my mile PB had a 75 second opening lap as well but that's where the similarity ends (except for the pain bit)

Certainly a very tough way to race with no one to pace off. Well done on the PB - fantastic!

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