Sunday, May 22, 2016

Humboldt Mile 2016 Race Recap

This was the inaugural running of the Humboldt Mile which was held in Chicago's Humboldt Park. The course was a simple one: Head due south on Humboldt Boulevard then take one sharp turn and one gentle turn on Munoz Drive into the final straightaway. Race conditions called for sunny skies and warm temps. There would be a tailwind for the first half mile and a headwind for the second half. In any case, I had put in relatively high mileage over the course of the week prior (and no speed training), so I was curious to see how I would do.

After a two mile early morning shakeout run, I ran down from my yoga studio in Logan Square to the start line. On my way, I passed under the 606 Trail and decided to ascend the ramp and see what it looked like. After taking a peek and seeing how cool it was, I descended the ramp continued my run to the start. Once there I spotted John B and Jeff H.
Jeff, John and me
I also met up with Annabelle, Susana and Violeta from the Bootleg Runners. It was a pleasant surprise to see so many friends. I didn't realize that my team was going to make a showing - I guess I need to get on facebook! Anyway, for some reason the race organizers wanted to get the corrals organized a full half hour before race start and the emcee was calling everyone over to the start line at about 9:30 for the 10 am start! It wasn't that big of a race - with about 500 people over three waves, so not sure why we needed so much lead time.

My goal for the race was to run a 4:59 mile, which meant each quarter mile would have to average 1:15. I switched my Garmin to auto-lap at every quarter mile so I could better track how I was doing mid-race. I've never run a sub-5:00 mile and I knew it would be a stretch for me, but I thought I would go for it.

Finally, it was 9:59 a.m. and they did a countdown for about sixty seconds and at last we were off!

The Race:
Mile 0.25:  I was about four rows back and a ton of people from behind me shot ahead. I must have been in 50th place after the first 100 yards. I glanced at my watch and saw I was doing a 4:50/mile pace which was too fast, but the strong tailwind was really tempting everyone to unleash the Kraken. I knew the favorable winds wouldn't last, so I slowed down a little. After the fast start, many runners got winded and dropped back. I made my way up near the lead runners to about 20th place. 1:15.1 (5:00/mile pace).

Mile 0.50: I was perfectly on track, but a glance at my watch showed that I was slowing ever so slightly. This wasn't a good sign since we were about to head into the wind. At this point I knew a sub-5:00 probably wasn't in the cards. We rounded the turn and ran right into the wind. 1:17.5 (5:10/mile).

Mile 0.75: It felt like a 10 mph wind and thus it was a struggle to hold a semblance of goal pace. I kept my head down and just tried to keep my legs turning over. 1:19.1 (5:16/mile).

Mile 1.0: It seemed like the race had just started, yet I was already in the final quarter mile. I knew I needed to lay it all out, but for whatever reason (headwind, fatigue) I could not summon a miracle kick out of my legs. As more runners faded, I caught up to a group of guys that had started ahead of me, so at the very least I was motivated to keep running hard to secure a good overall placing. Just seconds ahead of me I saw a couple guys squeeze in under the 5:00 mark and a few seconds later, I was done!  1:16.1 (5:04/mile).

Finished! (src)
Gotta stop my watch! (src)

Official Finish Time: 5:08
Place Overall: 6th out of 502

This is my second fastest recorded mile - although since it only had two turns, it was probably "slower" than the 5:12 I ran last year at the Grim Mile which had 16 turns on a track. I had not tapered for this race and had done no speedwork (beside puppy sprints) leading up to it, so I am pretty happy with my result even though it is not a sub-5:00. Eight seconds may not seem like a lot, but relatively speaking it is like dropping about another 30 seconds off of my 5k PR (since a 5k is 3.1 times further). So it will take some work to shave off those eight seconds at my next mile race.

Post Race:
I met up with the Bootleggers near the finish line for a photo with the team flag.
BRC! (src)
There were no age group awards and actually no overall awards, but they did have a beer garden sponsored by Revolution Brewing. In the beer garden I met up with some MRC folks:
The MRC contigent in the post-race beer garden!
Soon enough it was time to leave and get some stuff done at home.

I love racing the mile and am happy for any opportunity to do so. The Humboldt Mile was well organized, there were plenty of running friends present and it fell at the right time of year or me (i.e. in-between marathon training cycles). I hope they continue this race in the years to come!

Next Up:
Run for the Animals.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Humboldt Mile: Pre-Race Thoughts

On Saturday I'm racing a mile. More specifically I'll be racing the Humboldt Mile which is essentially a loop around the eastern half of Humboldt Park.

Humboldt Mile Course (src)
I'm super pumped to be racing a mile. If you've never raced one, it's like getting a pure adrenaline shot of speed - you just let your legs fly and try to hang on until the bitter end. There is some strategy like trying to keep the quarter miles even, but essentially I'll be running near or at 100% for 5 minutes straight. There is some major pain involved especially over the last quarter mile, but the race is over so quickly that it's somewhat manageable. To this long distance runner, it stands in sharp contrast to any race or training run I've done over the last 11 months, and for that reason it will be exciting to run a pure "foot race" to see how fast I can go.

"I live my life a quarter mile at a time...nothing else matters..I'm free!"
  from "The Fast and the Furious"

I ran the Grim Mile at the Luther North track almost a year ago. Since that race was on a track it had 16 turns. Saturday's race will be on the road with essentially two turns - so, it should be a lot faster. However, whereas with the Grim Mile I raced against five other people, it appears that the Humboldt Mile will have over 500 participants. By the time I registered they were sold out of the first 500 t-shirts! However, there will be three waves, but that still will probably leave about at least 100 people in my wave jockeying for position at the start and around the turns. I want to be up front for two reasons: 1) Don't want to do too much weaving 2) Want to be up front with the fast dogs to see if I can get "pulled along" at a fast pace. Hopefully, this thing won't be a cluster!

My goal is to see if I can break 5:00/mile which I've never done. But since this race won't be held on a track I'm not sure about it being an "official" mile. A sub 5:00/mile in my mind is on a track, so my "official" attempt will come next month when I race the 2016 edition of the Grim Mile.

I still have done zero speed work since last year, so I will be drawing on residual marathon fitness, my multiple daily "puppy sprints" with my dog and whatever mileage I've put in since the Carmel Marathon in April. In any case I'm excited to see what happens!