Charlie McMullen Mile

This was my second time running the McMullen Mile and it was an incredibly fun race. The male “elite” heat was scheduled to go off at 7:30pm on a cool, sunny, and calm Thursday evening at the Nazareth College track, so I had all day to prepare.

More precisely, I had all day to obsess over the race and turn myself into a nervous wreck. I had raced a number of 1500m and mile type distances at indoor track meets over the Winter, so I’m not sure why I was so anxious. Perhaps because, aside from a few 5K races, I hadn’t done any workouts faster than tempo speed since April 14th. Even worse, I hadn’t run repetition (mile-pace) speed workouts since the last time I raced a mile on March 7. On top of this, my last few races had not gone well and I felt like I was clinging to “race form” for too long without taking some down-time. And finally, this was the first time Karyn was watching me race so I didn’t want to disappoint!

Pre-race activities were fairly standard fare. I arrived early with Karyn, chatted with Josh, glanced around to figure out who else was running, etc. Josh and I jogged for about 20 minutes on a trail behind the Nazareth campus. It was nice to race on their track, which felt very familiar because we run on it often for our workouts. Josh said something about how the warmup sometimes provides a hint as to how the race will go (i.e. if you feel light and bouncy versus heavy and flat), but other times it gives no signal whatsoever. The latter seemed true for me on this day, although I started to feel more confident once I slipped into my spikes and eased into some fast 100 meter strides.

Although we had provided seed times when we registered, they arranged us in a random order at the line. This was odd, but I didn’t feel wronged because I got to start in the fifth position, which seemed about right. I got off the line slowly but maneuvered into the middle of the pack for the first 200 meters. Steve Strelick bounded to the front and set a relatively slow pace.

We had hoped to run a fast first lap despite any games the front-runners might play, so Josh made a move to the front and I stuck to his shoulder. We came through the quarter mile in 69 seconds, which was slower than planned but still acceptable.

I felt strong and maintained pace with the three or four guys ahead. At some point, Josh dropped back several meters. There was about a three meter gap between me and the small lead group for the second lap and most of the third lap. I came through lap two in 68 seconds.

Lap three was similar. I continued to feel strong and made (what I thought was) a solid effort to push the pace (I would later find out that my effort was only enough to sustain another 69 second quarter mile). Chad Byler made a great move on the home-stretch of lap three and he leapt past me by a few meters as we came into the final lap.

The last quarter mile was a struggle. I had still felt reasonably energetic with 500 meters to go, but 100 meters later I was suddenly barely hanging on. Byler’s move past me was mildly demoralizing, and I couldn’t match his pace as the small lead group ahead was pulling away. With 200 meters to go, I heard someone coming up from behind me. I didn’t look back, but somehow, I knew it was Josh. He caught me as we rounded the last turn and rocketed past me. I tried to focus on pumping my arms faster with the hope that my legs would follow, but they simply had nothing left. This was all I could do to avoid losing my form completely through the finish.

I completed the last lap in 69 seconds and finished the mile (1609 meters) in 4:36.96, a 4 second PR, which was very satisfying. I left it all on the track and gutted out a big personal best in the mile without any specific training for it. Plus this success it will make the next two weeks of rest and recovery much easier to get through!

Josh put together a very well edited video of the race that has our quarter mile splits and results. Full results from all heats of the race are here, and a complete photo gallery is here.

McMullen Mile Road Kill Racing PR’s

This was my second year running in the McMullen Mile.  If you want to know about the history of Charlie McMullen and of the race you can check out this link.  The race has been run the last 2 years on the track at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY.  This suits me very well, because I do many of my workouts on the track, and it kind of feels like a home meet.  The race draws about 100 or so people running times from 10+ minutes down to the low 4’s.  This year no one broke 4:20 but there were still some very solid times.  I’m going to focus on my times and my race in this post, but Mike’s splits are all in the video below if you’re interested. He’ll probably post some race thoughts of his own anyway.

Despite what I would called an average Spring racing season I was very confident about my ability to run a good mile.  A series of 3 short but very fast workouts over the last month left me feeling fast and well rested.  On Sunday I tried a new sharpening workout 4×400 with lots of rest 66, 63, 64, 65 and new I was ready to get back under 4:40 for the first time in 6 years.

The weather was a perfect 65 degrees and by the time our race started at 7:45 p.m. long shadows were across much of the track.  I was in the 8 spot at the start but new I had to get a good clean start and not get trapped against the rail.  As often happens in these open track meets the “fast” runners went out painfully slow.  About 150 into the race I knew I would have no chance at a sub 4:40 if I let the pace stay where it was, so I surged past the leaders and led us to a very unremarkable 69 second first lap  I was hoping to run 67-68 but 69 was OK if I had stayed in the back of the pack it would have been an unacceptable 71 or 72.  During the second lap the eventual winner made a bit of a move but only opened up about a 3 second lead on me as I ran a 70 second 2nd lap.  During the 3rd lap I was just trying not to lose too much ground.  I knew if I could hold steady I would be able to kick to a good finish.  I came through the 3rd lap with another 70 second spilt with 7 runners in front of me, one of which was Mike who had opened up a 2 second gap by running 69 second splits in the first 3 laps.  3:29.15 was my 3/4 mile time I knew I would break 4:40 but I thought would be very close.

I eased into my kick around the first turn and then really tried to open it up down the back stretch.  My eyes were locked on the runner just in front of me, I went by him with 200 to go and then I was staring at the back of a Road Kill Racing singlet a strides ahead of me.  Sorry Mike, but that is when I really put the hammer down.  I got around Mike mid-turn and started reeling in Chad Byler of GVH as we broke down the final straightaway.   Chad managed to hold me off, but I did manage to close the gap to less than a second.  As I crossed the line I glance over and saw 4:34 flash on the clock.  I went from dumbstruck to ecstatic in flash.  I had just run a 65 second 1/4 mile and shatted my PR by 4 seconds.  My FAT time was 4:34.94 but if anyone asks I ran a 4:34, I mean who really cares about 10ths or 100ths of a second.

Enjoy the video below.  The quality isn’t great, but I’m the tall skinny guy so I should really stand out.   


Morning Site Seeing

I have been running most mornings starting about 5:20 a.m. ever since Hazel was born.  At first it was a very difficult adjustment, but lately I have come to enjoy it.  I think it is a great way to kick off the day, and at least for the spring, summer and fall months I can avoid the heat.  Another great thing about morning running is i get to see all sorts of interesting wildlife on the trails.  A few days ago I saw a fox catch a mouse or a mole or some other little brown furry thing.  It did the classic pounce.

I of course see lots of deer and rabbits. Today I was treated to 3 different momma snapping turtles laying eggs just off the side of the trail.  I don’t know how many of them will survive once they start mowing the edges, but I wish them all the best of luck.

Wednesday Workout

I know you just can’t get enough of skinny sweaty men running in circles.  So here is 7 minutes worth for your enjoyment.