A Midsummer Night’s Mile: Mass Ave Mile Race ReportJuly 23, 2012
Oh, my. I’m always of the mind that any race report has to start with the night before, particularly if the night involves rollerskates, disco, men in glitter body paint, and a woman with butterfly pasties. One might think that a PR-crushing mile could be run the morning after a night with those things, but one might not be right about that.
Saturday night, I went to the A.R.T in Cambridge for the Donkey Show, a disco telling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that’s heavy on audience participation. It was debauchlicious.
However, it’s a fact of life that if you’re going to dance to ABBA amongst glittery impish men in short shorts and a woman in pasties, you need vodka. So there was some of that. And then, as a result, there was a lot of dancing in spike heels. It was good clean sexy fun. And then there was some dinner at 10 pm, and then I went to sleep on Sunday morning, and then I got up on Sunday morning to race a PR.
When I got up, I could feel my forehead in my feet. Or maybe it was the other way around. Oh, and my stomach was still dancing, even though I was standing still. Running fast was the last thing I wanted to do. But it was just a mile, and surely you can PR a mile with last night’s disco ball spinning in your pupils.
I made it into Cambridge with plenty of time to use the bathroom 10 times and warmup with a couple miles. The air was midsummery, such that I started sweating about a quarter mile into my jog on the course. Truth be told, I’m not sure if it was the air temperature or my post-party core body temperature making this happen, but I managed to sweat out some of the toxins over those 2 miles.
At the start, the race director warned the field that anyone who couldn’t race faster than a 5:20 mile should back off the start line. I wasn’t even on the Start, but I backed up anyway. My ego forced me in front of a 9-year-old girl, but otherwise, I was not feeling springy. I wanted to shoejack the older man in front of me; he was wearing those antigravity shoes with coils under the heels that you see in the SkyMall catalog. He looked like a cartoon.
We got 5-minute, 2-minute, and 1-minute warnings. At the 10-second warning, I looked at my watch and realized it had lost the satellite. Not that I needed a signal for a 1-mile race, but a Garmin takes time to grab a satellite and won’t start the timer when it’s searching the sky. He fired the pistol, but when I crossed the Start, my watch was still searching, so I couldn’t track my pace in the first quarter.
As a result, I did the opposite of what my coach advised.
Before the race, Jack told me to run the first quarter at an absurdly slow pace so that I could negative split for a huge PR. Instead, I ran it in 1:25, a 5:40 pace, a PR for the 400. Even with that sprint off the line, masses of runners were weaving around me, leaving me in the dust so that I felt like I was running in that dream where you don’t move at all even though you’re grinding hard on your feet. It was like the strobe lights were back from the night before and I was in a midsummer daydream of slow motion sprinting.
The clock at the half, not surprisingly, lost 10 seconds over the first quarter, for a 3:05, which would have still been a massive PR if I could’ve held the pace for even 1/2-mile splits. I started passing the runners who’d dusted me at the start of the race, but I wasn’t holding my pace.
My brain was too fuzzy to do math at the 3/4 clock, so I just cranked for the final quarter, but I knew I was losing steam and my legs got heavier than the lead they’d carried at the beginning. It was something like lead coated in lead with lead sprinkles. I neared the finish as the clock was in the 6:teens, but for some reason I didn’t have a final push to own a bigger PR, and I crossed at 6:24.
It was a moral victory over the symptoms of my antics, but a pathetically small PR. Jack said I’m deliberately setting a low bar so I can PR every time I run the mile, so I had to confess my turn as a dancing queen. Life is about balance, right? Can’t work, work, work all the time. One must dance.
I’m satisfied enough with the 6:24; it counts toward my 2012 goal and I always think it’s good to PR knowing you can do better. Plus, I ran a quarter at a 5:40 pace, which blew my remedial phys ed mind. I’ve now PR-ed at two of the six distances I race (5k and mile). I still have the 10k, Falmouth 7, half-marathon, and marathon left. If I don’t go pre-race clubbing at the A.R.T. again, I can get it done.
Let this be a lesson to you all: First run, then disco.