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?

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