Not ideal conditions for today’s Alanton Mile, but it proved to be a lot of fun anyway. Good friend Tim was race director for the local elementary school event and had asked a couple of days ago if I’d be running. I figured it would be a good test of my current speed and also a useful addition to the 50 Plus Club – an online club for those who plan to run more than fifty races in a year.
My legs were a little tired after yesterday’s 5k, but I still figured I’d have a low 5:00 minute mile in me. I even had a secret thought of breaking 5 minutes for the first time ever. I guess it was a combination of the weather and Saturday’s fast 5k that brought me down a peg or two.
I “warmed up” for a couple of miles (if you can call running in torrential rain and a 20+mph north wind warming up) to get familiar with the course, and headed back to the school to change into some dry race gear and the Newton Racers. The “boys” race was set to start 30 minutes after the girls mile, but I think they kicked it off a little early so the volunteers and spectators wouldn’t be subjected to the rain for any longer than was absolutely necessary.
My warm up had consisted of an easy mile and then a mile made up of faster strides, building to 20m sprints. I wasn’t “feeling it” 100%, but figured I’d go out hard and see what happened. Most of the runners were kids under 18, but there were a few “older chaps” in the 18-97 age group – me included of course.
The start was the usual stampede to the first left turn – lots of bodies and legs all vying for a good position and lots of fired up under-10′s all forgetting how long a mile race actually is. Ignorance is bliss sometimes…
I quickly found myself in 3rd spot, about 10 strides behind a couple of lads I guessed to be about 15 years old. They looked to be running easy, nice and relaxed with a good leg turnover. I on the other hand had good cadence but couldn’t make myself run any quicker. The rain was lashing down and I was also conscious of not slipping on the slick surface.
After a couple of waterlogged left turns, I glanced down at my Garmin and noticed my 5:15 per mile pace was nowhere near what I’d hoped for. The two lads had increased their lead on me and were battling it out nicely ahead. I was clear in 3rd with no-one to really race against, so I eased off a little and “cruised” home. My official finish time was 5:21, although I’d actually stopped my Garmin at 5:17 a couple of seconds after I’d crossed the line. Maybe the finish line volunteers didn’t click fast enough, but in the grand scheme of things it didn’t really matter. There will be plenty of opportunities for a faster mile once the summer comes.
We hung around for the awards and enjoyed watching the youngsters collect their medals and enjoy their moments of glory. I’m sure they’ll be talking about the race in the rain for several days when they get back to school tomorrow…