When my comeback began four years ago the idea of creating a new personal record for myself was constantly on my mind and kept me, literally, moving forward each day. As I struggled through the humid summer days, barely able to run each of my 2 or 3 miles at a pace 2 minutes slower than what I would’ve considered acceptable in the past, I daydreamed about the possibility of setting a personal record at this stage of life. Deep down I knew there was a possibility it was unrealistic and maybe even unattainable given how high I had set the bar for myself over a decade earlier. However, I’d always thrived on challenges; both those others set for me, and especially those I set for myself (as my own biggest critic). I was challenging myself again. This time around, it was going to be more difficult to reach the same shock value I enjoyed in my younger days, but the challenge was set just the same.
I plan to attempt to run the 1 mile race distance a few times this spring and summer. I’ve been consistent in my training for some time now, and I’ve started to see some results in my level of fitness hinting at good things to come. Even though success in the 1 mile race is historically enjoyed by younger runners, it was always my least impressive personal record. Of the standard middle distance events I raced in high school, the mile was the one for which I was never fully trained or rested. It’s “the race that got away”.
Most people who hear “one mile in four minutes” hear just that; no distinction is made between 4 minutes and 14 seconds, and 4 minutes and 57 seconds. But the distinction in my mind is monumental: the former is my high school PR in the mile; the latter is the pace my now 34-year-old body can sustain for a 5k. Most runners in their mid-30’s (except those running professionally) tend to focus on longer- distance races, like half and full marathons. Although I know my greatest potential now lies in those longer, grinding-type runs, I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to the breathlessness and lactic-acid nightmare of shorter distances.
Will I be able to tame “the race that got away” those years ago in the peak of my running career? Today, I have a chance to be both well-rested and well-trained for the mile, and I’m looking forward to seeing how fast I can go! In my next entry I will dive back into my training over the last few months as it lead up to this shift in pace.