Thursday, May 25, 2017

One Is The Most Anxious Number

In my last post, I mentioned that planning ahead is best for those who like to run races. So, when I saw an advertisement for the Medtronic TC One Mile happening in May, I decided to look into it.

I'm not going to discriminate against a race just because it's only one mile. Especially since the race was on a weekday, and weekday races are best for my schedule. I decided to register for the race, and I had a little over two months to work on my mile pace.

I've heard that improving your running time happens with hill work and speed work. Also, running longer distances helps. If I can get my body used to running a 5K, then I should, theoretically, be able to 'rock' a one mile.

Prior to the race, my best time for one mile was right around nine minutes. I didn't know if I would get much faster for the race. I honestly didn't even expect to. I just did my best to maintain a (mostly) regular running schedule. We have a treadmill, so I couldn't really use weather as an excuse for not running. Life got in the way of a couple of runs, but for the most part, I ran every other weekday for the two months leading up to the race.

The TC One Mile was on a Thursday evening. I don't generally like driving downtown, so I opted to take Metro Transit to the race venue. It just so happened that I could ride the bus for free with a special pass printed from the TC One Mile website. Score! When my family dropped me off at the bus station, I was already a bundle of nerves. I get super nervous before races anyway, but there were a couple of other things that were adding to my anxiety. I was nervous about the little "twinge" I kept feeling in my right quadricep. I was nervous about taking Metro Transit — it's not something I do often, and I rarely do it alone. I was nervous about whether or not my sister, who had agreed to pick me up after the race, would actually show up. Read my last post if you're curious as to why I question her reliability. So, when my bus was thirteen minutes late, I was pacing around the bus stop like a crazy person. I planned my trip so that I would get off of Metro Transit about an hour before the race. I had to walk about a quarter mile to get to the race start from where I got off the Light Rail. With my bus being late, I would miss my connection for the train.

Once I got on the bus, traffic, construction, and detours all added to my anxiety. I checked the time; 6:30. I was supposed to be there by 6:30. Instead, I was barely five minutes away from where I got on the bus. I got on my phone to search for the Light Rail schedule. What did people ever do without smartphones? Thankfully, a train ran every ten minutes. So, regardless of what time my bus got to the stop, I would be able to catch a train relatively quickly.

I made my connection (about thirty minutes after I planned to), and I got to my final destination without further incident. I still had thirty minutes to spare. I jogged to the 'sweats check' so that I could check my personal items. Then, I went down to the riverfront to take a few pictures. I ran into someone else from the Run the Year Facebook group, which was pretty neat considering there are 24,000+ people in the group.

There were several different start times for the race depending upon which wave you wanted to or qualified to run with. I opted to be in the competitive wave, because I was more serious about the race than those running the recreational wave. However, when I lined up for my start time, I started questioning whether or not I belonged in the competitive wave. Many of the racers looked very fit, very active, and much better at running than me. But, I chose to be there, not because I expected to win any prizes, but because I wanted to push myself. My goal was to finish in about nine minutes and to not get injured. Sometimes, the key to running faster—in addition to hill work, speed work, and higher mileage—is simply to run with people faster than you.

My favorite part about the route was that there were official time clocks every quarter mile. Every time I passed a clock, I tried to do the math in my head to figure out what my finish time would be. Even still, when I crossed the finish line at 8:23.6, I was shocked by my time. Regardless of seeing a clock every quarter mile, I still had no idea I was going that fast.

Shortly after finishing, I received a text from my sister. She was at the finish line. Sweet. Not only did the race go better than I could've hoped, but my ride didn't let me down. Her and I went to the race after-party for a bit. They had alcohol samples and other freebies that we took advantage of. We also shared a brownie from a food truck. Overall, it was a great experience. I would sign up again next year in a heart beat. Hopefully next year I won't be so anxious, since I've run the route and I know the drill. And hopefully by then, I'll be able to beat an 8:23 mile.

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