Alternatively titled: I never dreamed I could really run a mile that started with a 7.
Last year I ran the 5th Avenue Mile in 8:14. When I finished, I boldly proclaimed, next year sub-8. This year I ran it in 7:36. As I sat there, Sunday afternoon, with compression socks on, my lungs still burning and coughing like a smoker, I truly couldn’t believe it. Hard word really does pay off. All of those crazy, fast Tuesday morning runs, in the unrelenting summer humidity, were 100% worth it.
It’s pretty incredible the difference a year makes. Last year I would have never believed I could run a mile in under eight minutes; let alone mid-7s. I know that I am the one who does all the work, but having a supportive, encouraging Coach, who believes in you and pushes you, can also make all the difference in the world. Thanks to Abby for pushing me far outside my comfort zone each week and believing that I’m capable of more than I give myself credit for. It’s such an amazing feeling when HARD WORK PAYS OFF.
I went to sleep Saturday night with a very unsettled stomach. I typically eat sushi the night before my long runs and races, when possible. I didn’t feel like I ate bad sushi, it just wasn’t sitting right in my stomach. I feared it would be a rough morning; knowing my already present early morning stomach issues. I woke up and my stomach was still feeling unsettled; just as I feared it would be. My A-goal for this race was sub-8 and my B-goal was just to PR. I was pretty confident, if my legs cooperated, that a PR was definitely possible. After spending A LOT of time in the bathroom before the race, I wasn’t so sure what was possible for the day. I decided I would start out with the intent to run fast and pull back if my stomach had other plans. As we waited for the race to start, I was still feeling a little queasy but just as we were getting into the corral I thought that maybe a PR would be possible after all. I looked at Allison, whose goal was to chase me (I ended up chasing her, for the record), and said Let’s Do This!
This race is funny. The gun goes off and your natural instinct is to sprint across the starting line; forgetting that it’s still ONE WHOLE MILE. I promised myself this year that I would not start out in an all out sprint like last year. Yet, again, I found myself looking down at a 6:xx pace on my watch and having to pull back a bit. I looked up at the street signs, thinking I had to be close to half way, to only see 77th Street. 77TH STREET!?! I had only run three blocks? Seriously? The race starts on 5th Avenue and 80th Street and finishes at 60th Street. It’s pretty cool because without having to look at each 1/4 mile marker sign, you can simply look at what street you are at and immediately know how much farther you have to run. When I saw the clock, at the halfway point, it was still under four minutes and I knew my sub-8 goal was possible and within reach. I also knew I also had a five or ten second cushion between the clock time and the actual time as we waited a few seconds to cross the start line. Once I hit 65th Street, I knew I only had to push for five more blocks. I told myself, it’s only five more blocks, YOU CAN DO THIS!
This is, perhaps, my favorite race of the year. It begs the question, “what are you made of for one mile?” It makes you nervous. It makes your lungs burn. It makes you cough like a smoker at the finish line. It’s pure adrenaline and makes you feel like you are flying. And before you can even comprehend what hurts or what is burning, it’s over. It’s really an amazing experience. If you’ve never raced a one mile race, I highly recommend it. It can make even someone like me, whose long run paces are still deep in the 10’s feel like a running rockstar; for 7 minutes and 36 seconds. That’s a far cry from the 16+ minute mile I ran in high school. It’s truly incredible what is possible when you have faith and believe in yourself. Next year, sub-7:30?
Do you have a favorite race?
Does running fast make you feel on top of the world?