Saturday, June 11, 2016

Grim Mile 2016 Race Recap

Racing a mile is fun. The gun sounds and then its a mad dash for 5 minutes. It's extra fun to race a mile on a track. The crowd can watch and cheer the entire race without leaving their seats. For me it's the "official" way to race a mile. Just ask Roger Bannister!

This was the second time I've raced a mile this year and the second time I've raced the Grim Mile. In the 2015 version, I won my age group. This year, I would be drafted into competing in the elite race!

After a two mile hot shakeout run in my neighborhood (temps were already in the 80s). I drove five miles due west of my house and arrived at the Luther North High School track where there was a nice shady parking spot facing the track. I went in the high school's gym and got my bib and race shirt (no singlet like last year). They told me that instead of the age group race they wanted me to race in the elite division race! So, I figured why not? Maybe I would get swept up with the fast crowd which would help my chances for a PR. Anyway, I went outside where they were holding the heats for kids and teenagers, giving free massages and serving up free pancakes and sausage at the concession stand. 
Waiting at the concession stand!
Just like last year, this was a casual race which is more than just a little reminiscent of a high school track meet where the only distance is one mile. The track itself was old school, pre-metric, so each lap was a quarter mile, instead of the standard 400m, which meant that we had only to do exactly four laps. 

Just before my heat, I did a few pickups and ran an additional half mile. I got pretty hot doing so, so I went over and sat in the shade for a few minutes to try and cool down.

Finally around 10:45, it was time for the elite race!

The start line!
According to McMillan's calculator, based on my 10k time from last weekend, I was in 5:07 shape, but what fun is a 5:07? My goal instead would be a 4:59! So, in order to hit that number I planned my quarter mile splits to be:

1:18, 1:16, 1:14 and 1:12

If all went according to this plan, it would hopefully result in a sub-5:00 mile. I figured if I could hold back the first quarter mile I would have enough energy to kick my way to a 4:59.

Once at the start line, I mentioned to one of the other two runners, that I wanted to go for a 4:59 which I'd never done before. So he got one of his friends to act as a "rabbit" for me. I told him I was looking for a 1:18 first quarter and he said he would try for around that time.

They actually used a horn this year (instead of a starting gun like last year) and we were off!

The Race:
Mile 0.25:  My rabbit and the two other guys shot out of the gate super fast. I knew that a full out sprint at this point was foolish, but I kinda, just slightly, got sucked in with them. Hey, how many times am I going to have my own personal rabbit? About halfway around the track, I started feeling winded, which was not a good sign that early in the race. So, I knew I needed to apply the brakes and started to slow and had watch the other three fade into the distance up ahead. 1:14.7 (4:59/mile pace).
Lap 1
Mile 0.50: I don't know if it was my too fast first lap, the heat or the fact I was running my 83rd mile of the week, but I felt like I was straining to get any leg turnover. I was still in last place. 1:20.6 (5:22/mile pace).
Lap 2
Mile 0.75: I felt like I was settling down and my legs came back to me a little. The guy in front of me was starting to fade, so I made my move to pass him and by the end of the third lap I had 10 meters on him. 1:19.8 (5:20/mile pace).
Lap 3
Mile 1.0: I finally found my second wind, but it was too little too late for a sub-5. I really didn't feel too much pain this mile, so maybe I had held back too much in the previous quarter mile? I turned on the jets and was done!  1:12.7 (4:54/mile).
Lap 4
Official Finish Time: 5:08
Official Pace: 5:08/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:08/mile
1/2 mile splits: 2:35.3 and 2:32.5.

Place Overall: 2nd out of 3

This was only my second track mile - but it's still a PR! My pacing was pretty spot on for my goal, although I wish I could have run the first two laps just a little more slowly. I still negative split the race, which is hard to do given the initial adrenaline rush in a short race like this. I was only one second from McMillan's predicted time (5:07). Those tables are scary accurate when it comes to shorter distances!

Post Race:
There was a short awards ceremony where I got my second place medal. Mr. Grim said that they'd be back next year and to tell your friends. So, I'm telling you to please try this race out next year! A mile race on a track may be my favorite distance next to the racing a marathon. I guess those two distances are at two different ends of the racing spectrum and that's maybe why I like them both. The marathon is a test of endurance with a little bit of speed and the mile is a test of speed with a little bit of endurance.

Next Up:
PR attempt Chicago Rock n' Roll Half next month.


  1. Nice job Pete. A friend of mine told me after the Humboldt Mile that you should always surge at a half mile. Don't worry about saving it for the last quarter mile, you'll have a kick there because of your adrenaline and seeing the finish line. Good advice, that of course he tells me after I've already ran the race!

    1. Thanks Jeff. Good advice about the surge. I was also thinking I need to start my kick earlier. I always seem to be at top speed as I finish and for the next 20 yards until I can stop. I should use that extra speed on the course!

  2. You were drafted to join the elites because you are running like one! Awesome as usual. You are definitely on fire! Interesting how accurate that pace predictor is, isn't it? At least for those short distances.

    I'm still on the fence about RnR Chicago. Still battling PF and lack of motivation. I'll continue to train but will most likely wait until the last minute to sign up.

    1. Thanks! Well, I did get dusted by the first place guy so that guy really was an elite! Good luck with your RnR decision. Hope your PF goes away soon!

  3. Congratulations on your PR, Pete! You are SMOKIN' fast! As always, I love how scientifically you prepare for these races. I continue to say you need to open up your own race strategy consulting business. I'd be your first client!

    I am blown away by how scary accurate McMillan is! I've never looked into McMillan for myself, but now I am going to investigate for myself!

    See you at RnR Chicago next month. =)

    1. Thanks Emily! Good to know that if I ever open a race strategy consulting business, I'd have at least one customer! You should check out McMillan. It will really help you zero in on your fitness and how that translates to your paces for your next race.

  4. I remember running on the Luther North track in high school. Is it still cinders, or did they upgrade?

    Congrats again on an amazing race! It's pretty cool to be friends with such an elite runner ;)

    1. It is a black track, but I don't think it is cinder (although that would be cool). Thanks! It's great to be friends with a Ragnar ambassador!

  5. Congrats on your PR and placing!!

  6. Awesome work and impressive pacing! That's awesome that you can drop such good splits and such strong speed at your 83rd mile of the week. Imagine if you had gone into this race "fresh"!

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I was toying with the idea of taking a couple days off before the mile, but decided not to since my "goal race" is the RnR Half next month and didn't want to interrupt my training for "only" a mile race! :) Maybe next time I'll do a proper taper (and some track work) prior to the race. Thanks again!

  7. That is awesome! And no, if I run this next year then I will most likely be the last one. :-)

    1. Thanks Zenaida! I'm sure you would have easily won your age group.

  8. Woo hoo! Congrats on the PR, Mr. Elite! So do they have each AG/elite go in their own wave? That would help with spacing! How cool they wanted you to join the elites - I can see why!

    1. Thanks. Yes, they have 10 year age group "heats" about 15 minutes apart from 8:30 to 11:00. The elite race/heat is near the end just before the mile walk! So, it's like a morning track meet as far as being able to watch other races. I still got dusted pretty bad by a guy who ran 4:30ish! So, it makes me realize how much further I need to go to really be even a "sub elite"!

  9. Congrats on the PR! It was a hot time of day, that sounds like a sweet mile to me! I'm not surprised you got yanked into the Elite Wave either - but how cool!

    1. Thanks. Yes it was a hot time of day, but it was thankfully over quickly!