Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Going Under 5: Timed Mile Attempt # 6

Hello Runners!,
Today is the day, the day I make running history - that is, my personal running history. I am going for under 5 minutes in the mile, or I should say, I went for under 5 minutes in the mile as I already did the timed mile earlier today.

It was a good day for running.  Temperatures around 70 degrees, a light wind and partly cloudy.  I met Eddie out at the track around 6pm.  We did a 2 mile warm-up together around Memorial Park, discussing tactics for the race.  TACTICS: There are really 2 main strategies to run a timed mile.  Tactic #1: Run the first 2 laps a few seconds faster than goal time and then try to hang on for the last 2 laps, or Tactic #2: Start of slightly slower than goal pace and try to run negative splits.

I prefer tactic #1, as a mile is a short race and I feel it's difficult to run negative splits. The plan was to go out in 73 seconds for the first lap, and come through the half mile mark around 2:27.  This would give a 3 second "slow down" for the final two laps.  The idea would be to then try the third lap in 75 seconds, and give'r everything on the final lap, hopefully going under 75 seconds, resulting in the coveted 4:5x mile time.  Eddie agreed that this would be the best strategy go under 5.  He had just done a few difficult workouts in the days leading up to today and wasn't sure if he had a sub-5 mile in him today.  He told me he could give me 3 good laps but couldn't guarantee a solid fourth.  This was fine with me.  I asked him to try to  give me 3 laps + the first turn on the final lap and I could take over from there. All this talk of race strategy started to get me a little nervous, although I was also confident I could do it. 

Kennedy's Racing flats
Race Time: After the warm-up I switched shoes, breaking out the old Kennedy's track flats, the first time I'd worn them in years.  They were like feathers on my feet. To finish the warm-up, Eddie likes to run two 200m at race pace to allow him to get a feel for the pace.  I like to run 100m building up my pace, then 200m at pace, and jogging the final 100m to the start line.  We both did our pre-race ritual and went to the start.  We placed our toes on the line.  Eddie looked at me and asked if I was ready.  I gave him a nod.  1... 2... 3... go!  Eddie was off like a bat-out-of-hell.  Holy crap was this pace fast!  I felt like I was sprinting to keep up with him around the first turn.  I tried to relax on the backstretch and stay one step behind.  We came through the first lap in 73.4 seconds.  Right were we want to be.  I took a brief look at my watch and when I looked up it seemed Eddie had put a small gap on me.  I tried to pick up my pace, but I was still two strides behind.  I couldn't close it.  We hit the backstretch of lap two again and I once again mentally told myself to relax... feel the race.  There was a slight headwind on the homestretch and I could feel it in my face as I'd let a small gap form between Eddie and me.  Lap #2: 75.2.  It was a little slower that I wanted but it still brought us through the half mile in under 5 minute pace.  

As many milers may tell you, the third lap often makes or breaks your mile.  The breathing is heavy, the legs are getting tired, and it's not easy to keep up the pace.  As a matter of fact, you have to run harder to keep up the pace.  This is where many milers go wrong.  They feel like they are running the same pace, but have actually slowed down due to fatigue. I didn't want to let this happen to me.  I knew I had to dig deep and push.  I put in more effort.  I pushed hard.  I still couldn't close the gap with Eddie.  I was now three paces back.  My breathing was heavy, my legs were burning, but I kept pushing down the backstretch and around the turn.  My split for lap #3: 75.2.  I'm still about 1 second under pace.  One second.  That's it.  I followed Eddie around the turn.  He pulled off into lane two and waved me on.  I couldn't do it.  I tried to pick up my pace, but with a three step lead, I couldn't pass him.  I slowly caught him on the backstretch and came up beside him with just under 200 meters to go.  He was hurting, I could tell, but I think I was hurting even more.  He said three words to, three words that would help me get to the finish.  "You got this."  I drove with my arms and lifted my knees, getting into sprint mode.  I fired as hard as I could down the homestretch, the finish line in site.  My vision seemed to be getting blurry, my legs on fire, my lungs grasping for every bit of oxygen.  I hit the finish line and stopped my watch.  Final lap: 75 seconds, flat.  My time: 4:58.7


I did it!!  I couldn't believe it.  I threw my arms in the air.  I could hear Eddie yell behind me.  He came up to me, gave me a high five and a hug.  Wow!  I couldn't believe it.  What a huge personal accomplishment.  My summer goal to break 5 minutes in the mile, accomplished!  A running barrier I had never before previously broken, accomplished.  This feeling, was a runners high I enjoyed.  Of course, I have to give huge thanks to Eddie for pacing me, and to Jay, my best friend, for training with me all summer.  It would have been awesome if he could have been present to run with me. 

Eddie and I after the mile.
Post Race Meal: I decided to celebrate with some good ol' junk food.  I had a serious craving for a Culver's shake, so I stopped by and had a Butter Burger, french fries, and a chocolate shake to celebrate.  It was an AMAZING post mile run meal.  
My post race dinner:
A Bacon & Cheese Butter Burger, french fries,
and chocolate shake from Culvers.  

Final Thoughts: I guess this is my final entry for this blog post, that is, until I try again next year - if I try. I hope you've enjoyed reading some of my entries. I've enjoyed writing my first blog ever throughout the summer.  Perhaps you've even learned a thing or two about training for a mile.  I'm not saying my strategy was the best, or even most efficient  but it got me to my goal.  I'm always learning as a runner, always discovering new things about myself, about training, and about how to become a better runner.  I've always enjoyed running and I hope I can continue to do so for many years to come.  As always, good night, and good luck... running that is!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Timed Mile - Tomorrow

Hello Runners!,
I am back from my travels, having done a few runs out west, but no speed workouts.  Today was going to be my first time back on the track in nearly 2 weeks but unfortunately the high school football was having a scrimmage practice on the field so we were unable to use the track.  Eddie was out again today and I asked him if he could pace me on a mile attempt next week.  Unfortunately he will be out of town next week so he suggested the week after.  Unfortunately for me, I will be leaving in 2 weeks to take on a new job, requiring me to move out of town.  So that only left this week!  I wanted to try Friday or Saturday so I could get in a speed session on Wednesday, but Eddie is running in a relay race this weekend.  We looked at our schedules, and it turns out tomorrow is the only time we both can run.  Jay is out of town for work so he won't be able to participate.  Looks like it will just be Eddie and I out on the track.

Tomorrow I'm going for it.  It will be my first real attempt to do under 5 minutes.  Up until now it has just been trying to cut time off each attempt.  Tomorrow, I'm going for sub-5.  It feels a little weird to write it, but I'm excited.  I have to make sure to get some good rest tonight and stay off my feet as much as possible tomorrow until race time.  I hope all goes well... wish me luck!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Speed Sessions

Hello Runners!,
It's been a couple of weeks since my last post, and I must admit, not a lot has happened.  I've hit the track four times in the past two weeks to do speed workouts.  My weekly mileage totals haven't been too high, only around 35mpw.  Instead of a long post, i will just give a quick summary of my speed sessions since the last timed mile.

Tuesday, July 24th (QUARTERS)
6x400m & 2x200m (90 second rest between each quarter, 3 minutes rest between sets)
Set 1: 81, 79, 77, 76; 
Set 2: 71, 70
2x200s: 34, 34

Thursday, July 26th (800s)
3x800m, 1x400m, 2x200m
Splits: 2:40, 2:32,2:39 (my second 800 was too quick as I was trying for 2:40 pace)
400m: 72 seconds
2x200s: 36, 34

Tuesday, July 31st (PYRAMIDS)
My pyramid was as follows: 400, 800. 1200, 800, 400.  I finished with 2x200m
Splits: 76, 2:38, 4:11, 2:39, 74.
2x200s: 35, 32

Thursday, August 2nd (1km & 3x400)
1km: 3:13
400 Splits: 72, 71, 74

Overall I'm pretty happy with how my speed workouts have been going.  I still get burning on the soles of my feet, especially towards the end of the workouts. I still haven't figured out if it's my shoes or the heat of summer, or both.  I am leaving for Seattle tomorrow for a cousins wedding and will be there for a week.  I'm hoping to get in a few runs but I am doubtful I'll get in a track workout while there.  I'm just hoping to keep my fitness up and then hit the track again when I return. My next timed mile will hopefully be the 13th or 14th.

Good night, and good luck... running that is!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mile Attempt: #5

Hello Runners!,
A nice cold front moved in today, dropping temperatures by 15-20 degrees.  Jay and I showed up to the track around 5:30pm, ready to throw down another mile.  We were fortunate to recruit a friend and awesome runner, Eddie, to help pace us today.  Eddie is a sub-5 miler, has qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials in 1996, and has many other runner accomplishments.  Needless to say, I'm quite happy to have a guy of his ability to pace me.  The goal for today was to try to get down to the 5:10-5:15 mark, trying to split around 78 second laps.  Eddie would go out in 78 and try to hold pace for all 4 laps.  My goal was to stay a stride behind Eddie the entire way.

Around 5pm we started to get some ran and the wind was picking up to 10-15mph.  We would have a headwind on the homestretch, with the wind aiding us on the backstretch.  After a 2 mile warm-up and a few stride-outs it was go time.

I immediately fell in behind Eddie after the start, with Jay right behind me.  It felt like Eddie was sprinting the first 200m, but I made sure to stick right behind him.  We came through the first lap in 78 sec.  Perfect.  Lap 2, 77 seconds.  Once again, perfect.  I was starting to feel the pace a bit and I wasn't sure how much longer I could hold on but i was determined to stick with Eddie for at least a 3rd lap. I tried to stay relaxed on the backstretch, the wind aiding my pace.  When we hit the homestretch turn on the third lap I thought I was going to drop off the pace but I dug in and stayed just behind Eddie.  3rd lap, 78.  We were on pace to run under 5:15. At this point I was struggling but I was determined to stay with Eddie through the backstretch.  I was half expecting Jay to pass me on the backstretch but he never did.  I pushed hard the last 150m, finishing the last lap in 76 seconds for a final time of 5:09!!  Jay ended up around 5:20.  He let a small gap form on the first lap because he thought the pace as a little too quick and he was never able to make up the distance.  

I was stocked!  It was a great time, especially since it's still mid July, I hadn't done as much speed work as I'd have liked, and the conditions weren't great. I thanked Eddie for pacing me and he offered to pace the next time we were planning a time trial.

Final splits: 78, 77, 78, 76.  Total Time: 5:09

Another few weeks ahead of speed work and I'll do another time trial sometime in August.  Good night, and good luck... running that is!  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Speed in July - Finally!

Hello Runners,
Well, today was a planned timed mile day, but it was canceled.  As the norm in Wisconsin this summer, today was in the mid-90's all day - less than ideal temps for running.  We had planned to have one of Jay's friends, Eddie - a sub 5 miler, help pace us.  We called him up and canceled and decided to do a short track workout instead.  Well as things would have it, a nice thunderstorm popped up around 4:30pm and moved through the region, bringing with it some nice cool temperatures.  By the time we arrived at the track, it was near ideal temperatures.  We had a light rain and the temps were in the low 70's.  Although it was humid, there was little wind.  Since we wouldn't see Eddie until Thursday (the new planned timed mile day) we just went ahead with a track workout.  We ran 6x400 and 2x200 to finish the workout.  Add a 2 mile warm-up & cool-down and it was around a 7 mile day.

I felt great out on the track.  Today was the first day where I was able to push myself to the same level I was doing before my knee injury.  I still wanted to ease into the workout so my first 2 quarters were a little slower than planned.  Here are the splits:
Set 1: 83, 80, 76, 76
Set 2: 77, 72
2x200: 36, 38

I felt great doing the quarters.  They were fast and comfortable, I wasn't pushing myself too hard.  It was probably the best I've felt doing quarters all summer.  As for the 200's, I felt terrible.  Perhaps we took a little bit longer of a rest than we should have, but I felt lethargic on the 200's, especially the last one.  I was actually planning on doing 4x200 but since I wasn't feeling well for the first two, and since it was my first really challenging workout since my injury, I decided to forgo the final two.  No need pushing myself for those extra 200's, especially since I have a timed mile coming up on Thursday.  

My plan is to do an easy 5 miles tomorrow and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for cool, calm weather for the timed mile on Thursday.  Overall today was a good day as I feel my training is back on track.  Good night and good luck... running that is!