There is a deep connection to the word mile. The word represents a standard. Mile high. Mileage. If you give and inch, you give a mile. Going the extra mile. Walk a mile in a man's shoes. The trial of miles and miles of trials. The sound of this word bristles the neck hairs of those who run. And while all runners log miles; not all runners are brave enough to toe the line and to RACE THE MILE.
The mile conjures up my memories of high school gym class requirements or a minimum fitness test for high school soccer. (High school is Grade 9-12 to those of us in the good old US of A). And while I can't speak for any Canadians, I can let you know the dread that crosses the minds of kids in the states when they are asked to run the mile for gym class. Perhaps today's kids are soft... some of them certainly look quite squishy these days. But the day of the mile probably elicits more doctors notes and excuses for non-participation than any other day - with the possible exception of Opening Day for Major League Baseball.
I remember training for my first mile. I had my dad drive his car around the park road at the park near my house. I wasn't much of a trained runner back then - in fact I knew nothing of training. But I remember feeling an excitement about timing myself for the distance. I wanted to race a mile, so I practiced by racing a mile. It was yet to cross my mind that running further than a mile would be good training. And when I performed for my first actual race I still remember my time. Fast forward 15 years to 2009 and I would race my next mile as part of last year's UBC race series, it wasn't until last year's race that I would finally improve upon my first mile. It was what I call, a PR (personal record - aka personal best).
Now, thanks to the 2010 edition of the UBCTC Fall Race Series I have returned to test myself against the very same mile. To follow is my recollection of the events as they unfolded...
To me, my race was against myself. Sure I was hoping to pick-off a runner or two who had finished ahead of me last year - but deep down this was between ME (now) and ME (then). In order to improve on last years race I needed to run a smarter race. I had been training differently between the two years. Last year I had more volume and was in the midst of recreating myself as a run - this year my training was lighter in volume but richer in quality. I have been working on my form and efficiency - I've continued to strengthening my core, focused on turnover and keeping my contact time with the ground to a minimum.
First item to running a smarter race was not going out too fast on the first lap. Last year I went out too fast and surely paid the price later in the race. This year I wanted to keep all my laps within 5 seconds of each other. I've found that mentally running through my game plan helps me to execute a better performance.
Here was my plan for execution of a PR:
Lap 1 Get out clean, breath and remain relaxed.
Lap 2 settle into my pace and be as efficient as possible.
Lap 3, Don't get distracted. Now is not the time for weakness.
Lap 4. Accelerate through the corners and push like hell.
I also had specific time goals for each lap. In addition to the goal of following my plan above, I also like to have some specific goals. I could write a whole blog on goal setting, but for now I will share that in my experience, setting multiple levels of goals can be helpful. My time goals were a bit loftier - but I'm not afraid to set a goal that I can't quite reach.
Now if anyone actually remembers the actual events of the race - more power to them. To me the race was a blur. I focused solely on myself for each step and did fairly well. I set a PR and reeled in one runner who had beat me before. But I did not reach my time goal and I got out-kicked in the finishing straight by 2 runners.
Nothing motivates me more than being beat by an honest effort. I am very lucky to have clawed my way up in the race where I have several competitors. I will be motivated for next year's mile and will train to now beat this year's time and perhaps out-kick a few more runners.
Now for those who have read this so far here I will attempt to start some discussion. My hope is that through the 'Comments' section, we can re-create the events of the race by each personal account.
- This year's event featured a Battle of the Sexes. The Men were held to a 60 second handicap start. The grand prize was a 3 point bonus for the first racer (man or woman) to the finish line. I was on the opposite side of the track when the finish line was crossed, but I believe that John claimed the prize for the Men. The women's winner on the night, Kaley was caught just before the line. Go Men!
- Barry has some competition for the official position of 'Super-fast runner man'. An honorary title.
-Winston is learning to run a steadier pace - finally Harmin the Garmin is happy. According to Kellen's Garmin, he ran a spiral route out into the Georgia Straight. These two will battle again in the future.
- I, Kory finally caught Liam. Liam discounted the achievement by stating that he was fat and out of shape. (I'll still take it).
- Victoria ran herself back to physio. Were have I seen this before? She's tough as nails, but also as smart as them. Will her hamstrings gain the strength needed to counter-balance her ever increasing quad strength? Or will she continue to race until the wheels fall off? Stay tuned.
- John set a new tri-club record, one that I predict will stand for a long time.
- President Kim took almost 20 seconds off of last year's time.
- Matt beat Vince. Vince still blames his concussion.