Back in high school, I ran cross country. I never considered myself a fast runner, but I did ok. I usually ran the mile between 5:30 and 6:30 depending on the time of year or where we were in the cross country and track seasons. At the end of the cross country season during my senior year, coach brought us all out to the track for a timed mile. It was mostly to encourage us to do track in the Spring and get an assessment of how well we might do. I was planning to pole vault so I wasn’t too concerned. That said, I knew I was getting faster and hoped I might be able to break five minutes for the first time in a mile. I paced with a guy who was faster than me and aiming for 4:45. As we finished lap two, I realized we were going too slow and I sped up. I managed to maintain that speed and finished at 4:59.
Since then, I hadn’t run a timed mile. I knew I’d gotten slower (from several years of minimal running) but starting a few months ago, I was starting to build up my speed again. In September, I decided to see if I could break my PR (personal record). I went out to the track to see where I was and determine if a sub-five was even possible. I decided if I could run under a six-minute mile, then I could train and might be able to do it again. If it was over six minutes, I would keep training for distance and not worry about sprinting four laps around the track. That mile time came in at 5:35.
Over the next few months, I continued to do one track workout each week, along with my regular running. Once a month I would time my mile again to see how I was doing. I even convinced other people to join me for these workouts. Well, May was the month, but it was pretty rocky. I started the clock and everyone took off running. Unfortunately, I didn’t think I had hit the button, so I went back to check. The clock was running and four precious seconds had ticked away. I turned around and took off, probably too fast. Each lap, I watched the time and made sure to subtract the four seconds between the clock start and my start. After two laps, I was still on pace, but lap three was a bit slow. The final lap ended with 100m into a strong head wind. I was gasping for air and making enough noise that the other people on the track gave me strange looks. I passed the finish line and the clock read 5:01. I was sure that was a PR, but was unable to think well enough to do the math to figure out what my time actually was.
As we approach June, I’m hoping to do another timed mile. This one without the headwind and hopefully without the clock problems. Maybe with a little more training, I can even beat 4:57.