I suck at mile races. Pretty sure it’s mostly a mental thing — there is no reason why I should not physically be able to break six minutes. Back when I first started trying to do that, almost two years ago, my 5K PR was nearly a minute slower. It would have been a huge stretch, but I did think I could do it.
Now my 5K PR predicts a 5:54 mile. And yet… every single mile race I run is slower than the one before it: 6:11 at the 2015 Fifth Avenue Mile, which is still my official PR; 6:12 at last summer’s Harlem One-Miler, which I followed up with a 6:10 time trial less than a week later; and 6:15 in December at the Sri Chinmoy 1 Mile Race Around the World, which I followed up with a stress fracture. This knocked me out of the entire winter indoor mile series at the Park Slope Armory, which sucked a whole lot since I think part of the reason I’m terrible at the mile is because there are so few opportunities for me to race them, and so I get way too psyched out about each one.
This year, though, I might actually have more than one shot at it. If my body holds up. A very big fat if, when you’re me. It is because of this body that I was delaying registering for the North Avenue Mile, which I ran in 2014. (And was over the moon to just make my goal of 6:45, which is now slower than my 5K PR pace. Perspective is a funny thing.)
Except that when I tried to finally register a couple of weeks ago, the race page was a dead link, and it wasn’t listed on NYCRUNS’ website anymore. Curious. I asked Angela about it, since it was a NewRo Runners event, and she said that it had been canceled, but the reasons why were unclear.
Then, a few days later, she told me about this mile race, which she heard about in their Facebook group. (I guess kind of like… “We’re sorry we canceled our mile race, but here is this one on the same day!”)
Van Cortlandt Park is a pain in the ass to get to, but it’s less of a pain in the ass than New Rochelle. And it’s on the flats, so it’s … flat. These are the good things. I was still dubious about my chances at running a mile race that didn’t suck, but I dutifully did not race all-out at last week’s Al Goldstein 5K. Which, honestly, I don’t think would have mattered.
Because last Tuesday, I was wearing a down jacket. It is suddenly forty degrees warmer than it has been, and while I do handle heat better than most people, I still need time to acclimate to it. So, yeah… it’s suddenly a million degrees (okay, ninety, but same difference), sunny, and oh, right, there’s an air quality alert in effect. Not to mention that the flats might be flat, but it’s a cinder track, which is really not the fastest surface.
And since it was a small inaugural event, there weren’t a whole lot of runners participating. It’s harder to race something when there aren’t a lot of people alongside you, and there were only fourteen people in the open women’s heat. Which went off at 10:40 AM.
On a brutally hot day. Under blazing sunshine. (I know the weather on the map above shows clouds. Trust me. That is inaccurate. I was there.)
Now, the whole point of having Jana pace me is so that I don’t see my splits. I am almost positive that I could not have run under 21:00 at the first Al Goldstein race had I known how fast I was actually running. So when the horn sounded, I just followed her, and all was well until the quarter mile mark, which we passed in ninety seconds. I knew this because someone was there calling out the splits. Which, I mean, great, we’re exactly on pace — and maybe hearing that lulled me into complacency. And then hearing at the halfway point that I’d just run a 1:37 quarter… I knew that there was pretty much no way I’d be able to battle back from that to get my sub-6:00, but I could have still gotten a PR. Except I just gave up on it. I’m not going to say it felt like I was running easy, but it didn’t feel like it hurt any more than my 5K PR did. (Accurate, as my third quarter was basically 5K pace.) And then once the clock was in sight, and I saw that it read 6:04 and I would definitely need more than six seconds to reach it, meaning a PR was not going to happen, I didn’t even try to pick up the pace. I just didn’t see the point in it.
Yep, what lovely splits.
I’d be lying if I said I was thrilled with this result. But honestly, I’m not as upset as I would have expected, because it’s not like last year’s Harlem One-Miler, where I just missed a PR — this is so far off that, and so close to my 5K PR pace, that it can’t be explained away as an I just suck at racing the mile thing. (Everyone ran slower than their expected times, some by as much as a minute, so I guess it could have been worse. If I hadn’t even run under 7:00… yeah, that would have been pretty devastating.)
Looking this up is probably something I should have done before the race instead of after it, but according to this temperature calculator, the heat-adjusted pace for a 5:59 mile in today’s conditions is 6:16. I have no doubt that I could have run that had I not given up the way I did.
But I want to run a PR, not a heat-adjusted PR. So I will just have to keep trying.