When I decided to run the One Mile Bang, a road mile race in Los Gatos, it was with a fair amount of trepidation. I hadn’t run a one mile race since my high school and college running days in the 80’s. Even though I ran a bunch of mile races, about the only thing I can remember about them is being in heavy oxygen debt the whole way and getting out kicked by a bunch of guys at the finish. So while a one mile road mile seemed like a fun challenge and welcome change to the usual distances I race these days, all I could think about how soon oxygen debt would kick in and how many people would pass me at the finish.
It also didn’t help that I was just recovering from the Across the Bay 12k a couple weeks ago and haven’t been doing any track work, tempo runs, fartlek, or anything else to prepare myself to run fast over a shorter distance. So it was with an attitude of “whatever” that I entered this thing this Sunday morning, my “pizza and beer” socks summing up my general attitude.
Of course, when I get to the line and there’s a bunch of old guys just like myself in the over 50 division race, trying to relive the lost glory or their youth, all revved up ready to blow off the line….well, I started to get pretty serious, too. The gun goes off and a pick off maybe 75 of us charge down University Drive along the western border Vasona Park in Los Gatos.
My plan was to go no faster than 80 seconds for the first quarter, preferably something like 83-84. I look up and see the quarter-mile clock displaying 1:15 and pass the 1st quarter in 77. Too fast! But it didn’t feel that uncomfortable. “Just hold pace,” I told myself, afraid of falling into oxygen debt too early in the race.
I come through the half way point in 2:40, and think, “You know, this really doesn’t all feel that bad,” and started to reel in the runners in front of me. It certainly helped the course was downhill and by the time I got to the 3/4 mile mark, I started picking off a few people crossing the finish line in 5:12, which at least 30 seconds faster than I ever thought I would run. A couple of my training buddies finished ahead of me, but I didn’t expect to get anywhere near them considering they’ve been in a lot better shape than me all year and actually did some track work to prepare. What happened?
Most likely my indifference and lack of preparation played to my advantage. I didn’t get caught up with the pack charging off the starting line. Not saying you shouldn’t train for specific type of races, but I’ve fallen into to traps where I’ve trained hard to meet a certain time and then get carried away at the start, go out too fast, and pay for it. Quite frankly, I think a was a little too scared of the bear jumping on my back that never came and if I had to do it all over again, would have pushed a little harder from the first quarter.
At any rate, I’ll easily take a 5:12 mile, even if it is downhill. Next race up is the Wharf to Wharf next month in Santa Cruz.