Fitness Update: Progress Series, Race #1

This week’s fitness update will have a few notes of the standard, and a lengthier report of the first race in the Progress Series of four races (sponsored by the Running Well Store).

To quickly go through the stats: No swimming yet (hand still in splint — seeing doctor today to update that status); running up to 10.60 miles for the year; cycling 196 miles out of the 250 for the month.

And so to the Progress Series. The series is four races: 1 mile in January; 5K in February; 10K in March; and half-marathon in April.

The mile race was scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 14, but due to icy weather got postponed to Saturday, Jan. 21.

I picked up my packet on Friday at the Running Well Store on Friday, and found out I was in the first wave, because I had put in my expected time as 7 minutes, when I had been practicing for 7:30. So I asked to have my wave changed to wave 2.

The race was at English Landing Park in Parkville. I hadn’t been in the park before, so it took me awhile to find the race course — on the leg out by the off-leash dog park.

I got there early enough to walk the course. It was as flat as any course could be, with sandwich board placards on the side every quarter mile, and cones at the end to create a turnaround through the dog park parking lot. It helped me feel more comfortable with the upcoming race.

We saw heat one start and I talked to the other members of heat two while we waited. We all seemed to be set for the 7:30 time. So when it came time to line up, I made sure I was at the back of the pack. The horn sounded and we were off.

I had spent the last couple of weeks trying to find my 7:30 pace for the mile by practicing on the treadmill in the wellness center at work. But I had not practiced it outside. My usual outside running was at a 5k pace, and I wasn’t sure how well I could push myself to a different tempo for the mile. But when the horn sounded, I stepped out, made sure I was with the pack, and felt for myself the tempo, the load on my legs, and especially the breathing.

And when I found my tempo I started passing most of the pack until I was in third place right after the first quarter mile. The three of us were fairly close. I found myself still gaining slowly, and adjusted my tempo just the slightest to stay in second place. But after coming around the  halfway point I finally couldn’t hold back any more, and actually passed into first place for the third quarter of the race.

Being in the lead I checked myself; was I staying on pace? I actually stepped up a bit to my initial pace. It wasn’t until the three-quarter mark that  I heard someone gaining on me. “Go for it”, I called out.

“Put on some speed” he replied.

“I’ve put on all I’ve got,” I said.

So I watched him pass me until I got the the final stretch, and the “Dig Deeper” sandwich board. I did have some and dug deeper, mostly by lengthening my stride a bit.

I could see the clock at this point: 6:40 — that was way faster that I thought possible. At this point I just wanted to finish under 7:00.  So I ran through the objective and over the finish line at 6:51.

So that is my best personal record mile. I went to the Legion Post to see the results, but the link from the starting trailer wasn’t working right away. So I came home to look up my stats.: 14th overall, 2nd in age bracket and 12th by sex. The one odd this in that the competitors for position 157 and after all showed times several hours long, so I assume there is still some glitch in the results, but I don’t expect i to affect my placing.

Now I need to start practicing my pacing for the 5K. If I ran the pace of the mile for the 5K (year, really!) I would have a 21-22 minute 5K. My pace for the corporate challenge, my only competitive 5K to date, has been around 26. I am expecting that I should be able to make 25, possibly 24 if I practice right for endurance, find my pace, and the weather cooperates; not too hot, and not frezing cold.

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