4:54 Mile!

Date: August 18, 2017
What: 1600M Time Trial

I’ve had a goal for a while to break 5:00 in the mile (like I used to do regularly back in my high school days). Last year I ran a 1600 meter time trial with the Mountain View Cross Country team and finished in 5:06. This year I had another shot at it.

The head coach and assistant coach at MVHS were my coaches back in 1998 and 1999 when I ran cross country in high school. Every year they do a time trial at the beginning of the cross country season to see where their runners at. They invite alumni that want to join in the fun, although only a few tend to hear about it.

Only four alumni showed up. One was a really fast runner that ran in college and was actually pacing the varsity team. I knew the two others pretty well as I go to church with one, Jacob (who just graduated this year), and I’ve done a couple training runs with the other, Parker. Then there was me.

My training this spring was very distance-oriented. I put in more miles than I ever had before, but I did fewer intervals than I did last year. However, I have done a lot of tempo runs this year. I had a few weeks of interval training leading into this time trial, but I was concerned I would have a slower time than my 5:06 from last year. I wanted another two or three weeks to train. I had also been traveling in Seattle the previous couple nights and I did a 6 mile run in Seattle that morning. It was pretty easy, so I wasn’t too concerned about that.

The run was scheduled for 9pm and I showed up a while before to warm up and get ready. Parker, Jacob, and I were all excited as were all the high school runners. There were three heats of 1600’s. Varsity boys were last, varsity girls and JV boys before them, and everyone else first, although it was left to runners’ judgement which heat each person decided to run in. I opted to wait to run with the varsity boys as I figured I could hang with many of them.

I lined up on the very outside so I wouldn’t get in anyone’s way, and we all launched off at the coach’s signal.

I tried to be careful my first lap and not burn out. Everyone else went out really fast. By 200m into the race, I was in dead last out of about 15 runners. I didn’t let this concern me as I was right on pace and we had plenty of time left. Besides, I didn’t care what everyone else got so long as I did my best.

I came through the first lap at about 72 seconds, which was just right for me. I was still dead last after the first lap, but I could see many other runners slowing down. I tried to keep my pace up and I started passing. At some point I passed Parker.

I finished the second lap in 74 seconds, which put me at a good pace. However, I know the 1600 is usually determined by the third lap. I pushed hard to stay on target and finished the third lap in 77 seconds. This means I had a slight buffer for a 5:00 avg pace.

I was really feeling it the fourth lap, but I knew I was going to break 5 minutes. Parker surprised me by giving me some encouragement with 200m left when I started to slacken a bit. I didn’t realize he was still with me. I put everything I had for the last 200, but Parker ended up passing me. I didn’t care: I crossed the line at 4:54.9!

It had been about 17 years since I last broke 5:00 in the mile. This was kind of a bucket list item for me, and I’m happy to have done it. There was a time when I thought I would never break 6 minutes again. It’s amazing what a few years of training can do, even for someone in their mid-30’s who gained 60 lbs and took some time off after high school.

It makes me wonder what I can do next?

5:06 Mile!

One of my goals is to break 5:00 in the mile again (that is, 1600 meters, which is actually ~9 meters short of a mile).

There’s something about breaking a threshold like a 5 minute mile that makes for an attractive goal. Earlier this year, I was able to break 3:00:00 in the marathon. My main goal was to qualify for Boston, but for some time I had also had my eyes on a sub 3 hour marathon.

While I was still training for that marathon I ran a 5k fun run and realized that a sub 5 minute mile might be within striking distance. Nevertheless, I haven’t done any mile-specific training. Pretty much all of my training has been targeted at improving my marathon time. This includes long runs, temp runs of 4-8 miles, and intervals. The intervals have almost all been 800 meters or longer and at times closer to a 5:40 to 6:15 mile pace.

Nevertheless, I’ve been wanting to test myself in a mile for a few months. I’ve done mile intervals in the morning, but with no competition and doing multiple repeats means that my pace is always slower than my best.

After the XC12K I ran into my former cross country coach, Tracy Harris, who had just finished a training run. He still coaches at the high school a few miles from my house, and I found out that he was planning on a mile time trial in a couple weeks. This immediately piqued my interest.

A couple weeks later I showed up at 7:30pm to run a 1600 with a bunch of high schoolers. I felt a little silly, but I was excited to have someone to compete with. After a couple miles of warming up, it was time to run. I wasn’t very apprehensive until I actually lined up, but once I felt the nervousness I was excited because I knew I needed to be on edge to run my best.

There were actually three groups running, with the fastest running first. I debated which I should join since I didn’t know my capability, but I ultimately decided to join the varsity boys and girls in the first heat. There was a former college runner to pace us, so I wasn’t the only non-high schooler.

The race went really well. My first 200 was at about 37s, and my first 400 was around 74s. My second lap was my slowest at about 80s. Then I began passing some other runners as I quickened my pace back to around 75s for the final two laps. I got pretty light-headed towards the end of the race, but I was quite pleased when I came across in 5:06.

That was just 7 seconds away from my goal! I’m looking forward to doing some shorter intervals and working toward a 4:59. I’m certain that I can achieve it, barring an injury. My PR from high school is 4:34, and part of me is even beginning to wonder about that… but we’ll see how the next year or two go first.

(4×4) x 400 – Happy 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day!

To celebrate the 4th of July, I decided to run 16 (or 4*4) 400’s. I wouldn’t have minded doing them on the track, but since I didn’t want to take the time to drive to a track I just ran them on the road. And since I was running on the road, I figured I might as well run in the shape of a giant “4”. It wasn’t quite as big as last year’s “4”, but that’s ok.

The 400’s went pretty well. I averaged 82.5 seconds on them. I haven’t done 400’s in a long time, and I’ll need to do them faster if I hope to break a 5 minute mile again. However, I thought that this was a good start and it was definitely a solid workout.

Happy 4th!

Back to 20

This morning I completed a 20 mile run! It felt good overall — it’s been a little while since I last did 20.

In fact, the last time I ran 20 miles was on November 17, about 3 months ago. Before that I hadn’t ran 20 miles since the Foothills 50K Frenzy on October 3. I feel that running a 20 miler means I’m back into full training mode. I may do a 21 or 22 miler between now and my next marathon, but sometimes 20 is my max.

Why has it been 3 months? After running the Turkey Trot 10k on Thanksgiving, my Achilles was sore. It remained that way all through December. I was able to somewhat maintain my conditioning by doing one run per week and cross training, but it’s just not the same as running 30+ miles per week.

In early January I began carefully ramping back up, gradually increasing my total weekly mileage as well as my weekly longest run mileage. Two weeks ago I hit 17.5mi on my long run and last week I did 14.7mi. This morning I woke up at 4:45 and set out in the 28F weather. It was cold, but I was excited to get a good run in. I was hoping to do hills this week, but there aren’t any by my house and I decided I can focus on hills after my full base is established.

That led to a wandering run criss-crossing freeway overpasses so that I could at least get a tiny bit of hill work. I was carrying a water bottle and a flashlight, so despite wearing knit gloves, my hands suffered through much of the run. Around mile 13 and 14 my hands were painfully cold and numb and it became pretty distracting. Somehow I managed to get my last gel out of my pocket and holding it and eating it managed to warm me up. I kicked for the last 2 miles to hit marathon goal pace (~6:50/mi). It felt pretty good and I was happy I had enough energy left at the end to get that in.

Cyndi had some warm French Toast waiting for me when I got home. I slathered them with peanut butter and a little syrup and nothing ever tasted better 🙂