It’s going to hurt

10 June 2007

“It’s going to hurt,” groaned Joe at SB Running when we discussed the race. “Five minutes of pain.” said Rusty, “No, make that four, the first one won’t be bad.” “It’ll hurt, you know.” said John Brennand as I picked up my race bib.

I know.

That’s one reason I haven’t raced a mile in 30 years. My best mile was a 5:07 when I ran track as a high school junior. Those races hurt.

But I wanted to see what I could do. And a downhill course sounded as though it would be less unpleasant (honestly, I now don’t know why it sounded that way, but it did at the time). I haven’t been training for a mile, of course, no real speed work, but I’ve got a good marathon base, and I expected to do, if not well, then respectably.

Last time I tried running a mile it was ~5:30. That was by myself on a bare track. I expected in a flat race I should break 5:20. On a downhill race, I wasn’t sure. I hoped I’d break my 5:07, maybe, maybe if I were lucky I’d break 5.

Rusty said he thought I’d break 5. Maybe even 4:55. Oh dear…

I was very nervous and didn’t sleep well the night before. Nervous as I waited for my heat to be called. Nervous as we lined up and waited for the start. Heart rate already high.

Half dead at the half mile markhalf-dead at ¾ mile
Copyright © 2007
Dennis Mihora

Then the gun went off, and we did too. About 5 people zoomed off ahead of me. I’m not a miler, I don’t expect to place in this race. That’s ok. The first quarter was pretty good, running smoothly, and it’s neat to reach the first quarter this quickly. I could barely hear the guy calling out times at the quarter. 1:09, I think. Rather too fast that, better slow a bit. Then the half mile comes, not exactly painful yet, but the world is becoming unimportant, nothing matters but running. I can’t hear the guy calling the time. I fail to push the right button on my watch. And then that’s past.

My arms are getting tired.

My arms? what are they doing? I’m running on my legs, how can my arms be tired?

And now it feels harder and harder to continue. Not painful, just impossible. The third quarter approaches and it feels easier again, and then it passes (I forgot even to try to click my watch. What did time did the guy shout?) and it’s hard again. Then someone passes me and I find I can run a little harder but he still zooms off as if I were standing still. And the finish line is moving closer and closer. And…

Here. 5:02~5:03.

Wow, a (small) PR. And it wasn’t that bad.

And it is over so quickly!

But now the pain strikes. I can’t get enough to breathe. I can barely hold the plastic bag they have given me. I find a pole and lean on it. And then my throat starts to hurt. I stumble around for a bit with my friend Carrie (who has just won the women’s 40+ race at 5:45). She asks (jokingly, I hope) if she should call an ambulance. Now my lungs hurt. We sit down and eat some yoghurt. Now I’m coughing, but I’m starting to feel a bit better. And by the time the 50+s are coming in, I can actually stand up and watch.

Ug. I don’t like miles.

It did hurt.

But now I get to watch my friends, and that’s fun. Steve Miley (who has been injured with planar fasciaitis for months) ran the dog mile in about a 5:37. Nirmal ran about a minute faster than his mile pace at Vicki’s. Then Laura wins the elite women’s race, giving it her all. Joe came second in the elite masters (Joe is a master now!). And Magnificent Melissa comes in with a 4:47.

I remember now why I haven’t raced a mile in 30 years. I don’t think I need to race another.

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