If you read my last training log and have been waiting to see how I actually did in my virtual mile race, then I’m sorry I’ve kept you in suspense. It’s been a bit of a tough week with school (I had another meltdown about my stats class). But, if you follow me on Instagram, then you already know the results because I couldn’t help posting about it over there after the run.
In general, I’m not a huge fan of virtual races. I love racing for the race environment – the people, the spectators, the excitement. I am able to run times in races that I absolutely cannot do on my own. I am much more likely to suck up the discomfort of running on the edge of my limit if I’m chasing down other people or trying to defend my place from the people behind me who might be trying to catch me. While I am very much a bling junkie, if I sign up for a virtual I feel like I need to “earn” the medal in some way and I often feel like trying to do a sufficient time trial on my own is just not worth it. So when I saw that my local Main Street Mile went virtual, I went back and froth about whether to sign up, but ultimately decided on it because the money goes to some good causes (our local police K9 unit and several of the local schools) and I knew a mile time trial was within my capabilities. I had actually done a one mile time trial in May and was curious as to see how I had improved over 4 months of training. I figured if I was going to do another time trial anyways, I may as well get some bling for it.
The race gave about one months time (ending today, which would have been the live race date) to complete your mile and submit your results. My coach put it on my schedule for September 27th and I was hoping that by then we’d be done with summer weather and the cooler temps would help me fly. So of course after several weeks of amazing weather, I woke up that morning to 71* with a 67* dew point and 88* humidity. After several weeks of low dew points, the air felt very thick and wet. Oh well. I ran in weather like this all summer. I decided to go to one of my local parks to run so I didn’t have to worry about cars and crossing streets like I do when I run in my neighborhood. I started with about a 20 minute warm-up which felt great! My HR was staying low and my legs felt pretty good. My pick-ups and strides this summer suggested I have some speed, at least in short bursts, but I haven’t done any pace work to really know what I might be capable of over a sustained time. I thought it possible I might be able to beat my PR (9:38.8), but really wanted to just run by feel and see what happened.
Usually when I race, I glance at pace on my watch often during the first quarter of the race or so because I very commonly jackrabbit out of the start and while race adrenaline makes it feel easy at first, it’s usually not sustainable and I pay for it later. If I strategically hold back at the beginning, I can usually settle in to a good rhythm and complete the rest of the race without ever looking at my watch. But since training for Wineglass last fall, where I was too often in my head with pace and HR, I took those metrics off my front watch face and instead just have overall mileage and time. However, for this “race”, I wanted to really hone in on effort and figured without the race environment I wasn’t going to rabbit that much so didn’t bother putting pace back on my watch. I was running a loop that’s about 0.4 miles, so my plan was to try to kick it up a tick every half loop with the last 0.2 mile half loop being as all out as I could sustain. It didn’t quite work out that way. When I started my mile, I went out hard, but tried not to make it too hard, however, I wasn’t really sure what the effort should feel like since I haven’t been doing any structured speedwork. Looking back, I was running way too hard. My breathing went from feeling easy during my warm-up to sucking wind before I’d even hit my first half loop. It didn’t get better from there. Rather than taking it up a tick I had to keep taking it down. I wanted to run the whole thing without walking, but at 0.9 miles, I had to take a walk break. Because of the humidity I started overheating. My breathing was super ragged at that point and I was starting to get the “you’re about to pass out” lightheadedness and visual sparkles. At this point I hadn’t looked at my time, but at 0.94 miles I did. I realized if I picked it back up, I was on track to break 10 minutes. So while making sure I wasn’t going to pass out, I finished that mile running and ended in 9:51. My time in May was 11:04. I’d knocked over a minute off my time in 4 months.
For fun, I’ve been keeping an eye on the race results. As of two days ago I was first in my age group, but as of now I’m 4th and 58th overall (out of 21 in my age group and 220 overall). I think people can still submit times through tonight, so that may still change. I chuckled that it was a good thing they weren’t doing age group awards or I’d be mad I was 4th (I’ve never age group placed before, or even really come close). It turns out that while I could have sworn I read they weren’t doing age group awards, they apparently are. Ugh! So close! While I realize a virtual race brings a different clientele than an in-person race, it still feels good to be in the top 25% of both my age group and overall. It’s been a long time since I was even in the top 50%.
Overall, I’m happy with how I did. I think with better pacing I may have been able to break my PR. I had a huge positive split. My quarter mile split paces were: 8:38, 9:47, 10:25, 10:36. Yeah, that hurt. Before the end of the year I’m going to try another time trial, this time looking at my pace while I run and see if I can’t break my PR. I think my favorite part of the race though was in the very first 0.2 miles. I passed a family who was coming in the opposite direction. The dad was playfully chasing after his daughter (maybe 4 years old?) and when I passed them the girl stopped and said, “Wow! Dad she’s running really fast!” It made me smile. I’ve had people at that park before comment on how slow I’m running when they think I’m out of earshot, so it was nice to feel a small sense of redemption, even if it was from a 4-year old.