It's a set of three races, separated by just five minutes. Race 1 is 1 mile, race 2 is 2 miles, and race 3 is -- you guessed it -- 3 miles! I was interested in running the first race because I haven't been timed in a mile since college. I wasn't especially interested in running the 2- and 3-milers, but since they were included in registration, I figured "what the heck?" and decided to give it a shot. But I wasn't planning on saving anything for the later races; I'd go all-out on the mile and then just see what I could do for the other races.
I had a vague recollection of breaking 5 minutes for a mile in my college days, but I wasn't really sure what I'd be able to do today. Based on my performance in 5Ks, I felt like anything slower than 5:45 would be a little embarrassing, since I can get close to that pace in a 5K. But anything faster than that was basically uncharted territory. I decided to shoot for a 5:30, and if I was doing really great, maybe I could do better.
I arrived at the event about 45 minutes early. Since all three events followed the same 1-mile loop, it was easy to preview the course. The first half-mile was a gradual downhill and the last half-mile was a gradual uphill. That's probably going to hurt! Fellow DARTer Chad Randolph was there to watch and take pictures, and DARTer Chris Brown was competing. There were about 60 runners, with about 10 or 15 that looked fairly fast.
Soon we lined up at the start, and we were off. I had had the foresight to set my Garmin to give me quarter-mile splits instead of the usual mile splits. As you might expect, the first quarter was fairly fast. There were about 9 or 10 runners ahead of me, and we were all cruising along at about a 5:08 pace.
|Start of the 1-mile. Chad Randolph photo.|
Just a quarter-mile to go! Two runners ahead seemed to be within reach, and I inched closer to them. We hit the second-to-last corner and started our sprint. Finally we turned into the parking lot and headed home. There was just enough time for me to pass both of them on the inside. My final time for the race was 5:30 even, so my guess at a target time wasn't far off. I think I could probably go faster on a mile if I focused a little more during the second quarter, but I was happy with the result. That put me sixth overall, and first among male masters.
|Here I am about to make my move! Chris Brown is just behind me.|
Finally, the three-miler. I was feeling quite sore, and wasn't sure I wanted to run it at all. I got my phone to check up on how some friends were doing in other races. Then suddenly I heard "on your marks, set ..." I tossed my phone in the car and took off toward the starting line, which fortunately was only about 20 yards away. When I arrived at the start, the pack had started moving. I had to weave my way through the entire field to get to the front. I didn't have time to put my keys in my pocket, so I ran the entire race holding on to them.
I could tell almost instantly that a 6:26 pace was not going to be possible, so I reset my sights on just going faster than a 7-minute pace. If I could run a whole half-marathon at that pace, surely I could do just three miles, right? Uh, maybe not. While my Garmin splits were coming in just under 7 minutes per mile, the course was running a bit long compared to my Garmin (though certainly within the margin of error), and I was pretty sure I was not going to attain even my revised goal.
In the second mile I started to feel a hot spot on the bottom of my foot, and I could tell I was going to have a nasty blister. For about a half-mile, I considered dropping out of the race, but when I passed the start-finish line I thought "What's one more mile?" and kept on going. I ended up finishing in 21:25, a 7:09 pace, and out of the awards. At least I didn't drop out!
Overall this was a fun event, if a little twisted. I noticed some runners had interesting strategies. Martin Harrison, who had won the Spartan 5K, told me he just wanted to average below a 6-minute pace for all three races. While I beat him in the 1 miler, where he was taking it a bit easy, he won the master's division for the 2-miler and 3-milers, and was comfortably under a 6-minute pace for the day.
Other runners skipped races: I saw one person who skipped the 3-miler, and I'm pretty sure the overall winner for the 3-miler didn't run the 2-miler. Not a bad plan if you have a specific goal. Fellow DARTer Chris Brown ended up placing in the Master's Division in all three races, finishing 3rd, 2nd, and 2nd respectively -- a fantastically consistent day!
Garmin records of each race are below.