It's been a busy, busy week. I'm a little disappointed with myself--I only made it to the YMCA before work once, and I only went swimming once. I did, however, manage to make it to the Meet of the Miles on Tuesday. I met a friend, Willie, at Caribou in Eagan. She's a fellow Eaganite and member the MN Running Wild. Laura also decided last minute to come along, which I really appreciated. It's always nice to have my favorite cheerleader and photographer to support me.
We had a nice ride over to the U of M--Willie chatted with us about her escapades running the Olympic trials marathon as we made our way across the metro through amazingly light traffic. After spending a little bit of time finding the right place to park, we arrived at the U of M field house.
The race took place on the a 200m indoor track. I commented to Willie that it looked longer than 200m. "Maybe that's because it's so open," she said. She was right, it was really open, but my totally illogical, nervous-wreck side began rearing its ugly head. I was terrible at indoor track in college, and this open, 200m track brought back bad memories of running poorly in the mile after failing to do most of my workouts over winter break.
We walked up to the sign-up table to pay our $5 and sign up for a heat. The fastest heat was 4:45 / mile and faster and the slowest was 7:00 / mile and slower. "What do you think, Willie?" I asked. "Should I do the 4:45 - 5:00 heat or the 5:00 - 5:15 heat?"
"How have you been running?" she answered. "How's your training been?"
"I dunno," I said. "My mileage is pretty low but I've been doing some speedwork."
"Do the sub-5:00 heat."
I signed up for it and the butterflies got worse. I did a couple miles of warm-up laps with Willie and a couple other runners. We then ran into another MN Running Wild member, Bill. We chatted a little bit and then the heats began. The first heat, the sub-4:45 group, went out with a first quarter of about 70 seconds. Then, the leaders turned on the jets, the fastest finishing time being 4:26.
The next heat was starting-- the first 4:45 - 5:00 heat. I was in the second heat. After they got underway I did some pickups, building up to race pace over 100 meters. I was really nervous as I thought about the inevitable pain to follow. Willie, Bill, and Laura all wished me luck before I walked over to check in and line up for the race.
Once the race started my nervousness was gone and my competitiveness kicked in. I heard one runner from the sub-4:45 group ask another runner if he wanted a pacer. The pacer and the pacee lead the race from the get-go, and I tucked in behind them. I was feeling good for the first four laps (half-a-mile), and when the pacer stepped off I stayed right behind the leader. At some point, three runners went around me. I went with them and the guy who was leading couldn't stay with us.
One guy kept clipping the bottom of my foot--he said sorry every time and I said something like, "it's fine" every time, but at this point in the race things started to open it up so it was no longer an issue. The first two of the three guys in front of me started breaking away from me and the third guy in front of me. In retrospect I maybe could have gone with them, but I opted to stay behind the third guy. With two laps to go I was really hurting, but I told myself I was going to suffer as much as I could.
That seemed to help, and with that little mantra I was able to keep contact with the runner in front of me. Going into the last 200m, I got ready to pass him on the final curve. My track instincts came back to me--I always liked passing on the curve because even though I have to run a little farther, the person I'm passing usually isn't ready. In this case it worked--I went around the runner ahead of me and kicked as hard as I could to the finish. I was thrilled to see my time--a new indoor PR of 4:51.4.
After some congratulations from Laura, Willie, and Bill, I proceeded to feel sick. It's usually the same feeling after running a hard mile--lightheadedness, mild nausea, and the taste of copper in my mouth. After laying down for a bit I jogged a little and cheered for a couple other heats before Willie and Bill ran their mile. In one of the 5:00 - 5:15 heats there was an exciting finish as two high schoolers sprinted to the finish with the margin of victory coming to around a tenth of a second.
In Willie and Bill's heat, Willie got boxed in by a high school kid who seemed determined to push her to the outside of lane one. Bill got in a better position and the finish came down to a sprint between Bill and Willie with Bill narrowly holding off Willie.
Willie and I cooled down and chatted about our races before heading home. I had a really good time and I'm looking forward to running another indoor mile at some point. I feel like I could do more speedwork and possibly knock out the 2012 goal of breaking 4:50 if I run another indoor mile this year.