Thursday morning I was up around 6:00am, as usual. Which gave me ample time to stress and overthink things as I drank coffee. What if it's mad, crazy hot? What if I can't run hard for four laps straight? What if I'm a lot slower than I think? What if I made McKenna come all this way and I can't even do it? What have I done??? Classic Rebecca. At 8:00, I made my way over to Oak Bluffs to pick Steve up from the boat. It was in the 70s and the sun wasn't out yet; not terribly hot but the humidity was pretty thick. So, not great but not bad. Steve let me know that he wasn't quite awake yet and we drove over to the track in silence, just listening to music and zoning out. I figured less was more from my end. When we get to the track I let him know that I had to string together 11 miles total so I was going to head out for a 3 mile warmup before we started. He told me he would not be doing that and would see me when I got back. He also told me that he'd brought his spikes, which he admittedly hadn't worn in a very long time, so I knew he was taking this whole thing pretty seriously. Gulp.
During my warmup, the sun began to peek through the clouds and by the time I got back to the track I was dripping in sweat, which I tried really hard not to think about. Steve was pretty much ready to go, so I grabbed some water, did some dynamics and a couple strides and then we went over to the one mile start line. Truth? You know that scene from 'National Lampoon's Vacation' when Chevy Chase is about to jump in the pool and is repeating This is crazy, This is crazy over and over again? That pretty much sums up where my head was at at this point in the game. I can do this I said out loud, to myself. You can do this Steve responded. It's just one measly mile I said. Just one, he repeated. Can you believe how scary one mile can seem to a 44 year old marathoner? I know, it's ridiculous. You ready? he asked. Yea. Let's go.
The goal was to run somewhere between 5:30 and 5:40; 5:30 being pretty lofty but 5:40 safely within reach. Steve let me know he was going to take us out in 82 for the first lap and that we should aim to hold on from there. Wait. I think that's too fast, I said, I need more time to build up. You don't build up in a mile, Trax. The whole thing is fast and it hurts like hell. You just go. Fair point. So, we took off. After our first 200 I panicked as I was breathing like a wild animal. Steve had started out a little too hot and, thankfully, pulled back in the second 200 to get us back on goal pace. One lap done. My doubt seeped in immediately and I didn't think I could hang. I tried to just focus on Steve's back and let him do the work. 2 laps done. I was now dying. Like, it was ugly. The gap between us was getting a little bigger. My breathing was getting louder. 3 laps done. COME ON, TRAX, Steve yelled. I'M TRYING, I thought. But I didn't actually say anything because I wasn't capable of speaking by then. I worked to close the gap in the last 100 meters and finished with everything I had, just a couple steps behind Steve. I coughed and gasped and took a moment to myself. Wow, I said. That was beyond brutal. I didn't run what I'd wanted, did I? Steve explained that my pacing was pretty erratic and that I should have let him do more of the work and just sat behind him instead of trying to figure things out in the beginning. He also explained that you typically turn it up for the last full lap, not wait until the last 100 meters, which is what I did. Turns out, I really don't know how to race a mile. And they hurt way more than I ever excepted. I'll stick to marathons, thank you very much, I said. Steve laughed as I took off for my remaining 7 miles, which he was obviously not joining me for. As I shuffled out, I gave the whole thing some thought. I broke it down into things that were working for me and things that were working against me for the day:
I had a rabbit to help me with pacing.
I was in pretty good shape.
This was new and different and kind of fun, for a change. Kind of.
My lack of experience
The fact that, if I'm being honest, I really didn't want to be doing this. Like, at all.
For real, though, while I felt like I probably had a little more in me, I was pretty pleased with my time, which was 5:48. I don't remember what I ran a mile in back in high school but it wasn't that much faster than this, and that is pretty cool when I think about it. I'm a big believer in the concept of stepping outside of your comfort zone every once in a while. I'm feeling like I'm set with that for the next few months or so. And who knows? Maybe my next 5K won't feel quite as bad compared to this. Maybe.
Listen to this:
Never Gonna Quit - Royal Teeth