Friday, June 9, 2017

Grim Mile 2017 Race Recap

Racing a mile on a track is a blast. Fortunately, for the past three years I've had the opportunity to run such a race at the annual Grim Mile. Unfortunately, Luther North High School where it is held is closing. Therefore, this year's edition (held on Sunday), would be the last one - forever. In fact the t-shirts they gave out had the words "The Final Grim Mile" emblazoned on them.

This was an evening race, and the first age group heat started around 5:00 pm. The 40-49 year- old division wouldn't get started until 6:15 pm, so after an afternoon shopping trip to Menard's and then stopping off at Wendy's for a Frosty, I changed into my running clothes. Then it was a 4 mile drive over to Luther North High School to register for the race about 30 minutes before my heat started.

Waiting in the extreme heat for my heat to start!
Unlike last year's sparsely attended race, the grounds were packed with people. Lots of alumni came out to pay tribute to their soon-to-be-closing high school and to bask in the class reunion vibe. They had a grill going with free food and lots of family-friendly games on field inside the track. 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.

My legs were tired as I had just run the Run For the Animals 10k the day before, and it was 91 degrees as race time approached, so I opted to do just a slow quarter mile warm-up. This race would not be about running a PR or even close to it, just simply to have fun and to bask in the glory of what might be my last track mile for a long time.

As for pacing, I actually had no plan due to my still-recovering legs and the heat. I was just going to run by feel.

About 12 of us gathered at the line. The gun sounded and we were off!

The Race:
Mile 0.25:  I was on the inside lane and a guy in racing flats bolted out ahead of me. After about 200m he slowed considerable to what was about a 6:00/mile pace. I foolishly bolted by him at a blistering pace since I thought I should easily be running a 5:30 pace at that point. 1:19 (5:15/mile pace).

Still in first place after one lap.

Having to swerve as spectators made their way across the track!
Mile 0.50: Near the beginning of this lap some spectators who were on the field decided to cut across the track directly in front of me. After swerving to the outside to avoid a crash, I got quickly back to the inside lane. Anyway, about halfway into this lap, I realized that maybe I'd fallen into a classic race "trap" during the first lap. By slowing down, the guy I passed had tempted me to do an early surge (which wasted energy) and he had also gotten me to unwittingly lead the race! I knew he was drafting off of me, since I could hear his footsteps behind me. I soon realized that the leg fatigue from the 10k the day before was not going to let me sustain the pace I set out at, so I backed off a little and then the guy behind me shot by me like a bullet. I had nothing in the tank to respond with. 1:21 (5:24/mile pace).

Mile 0.75: I had a feeling I was safely in 2nd place but it's a helpless feeling when racing on a track and you can constantly see the runner ahead pulling away from you after every turn and not being able to respond. 1:22 (5:33/mile pace).
Now in 2nd place
Mile 1.0: I tried pouring on whatever I had left. Another frustrating feeling is seeing the lead runner finish to cheers and then trying to motivate yourself when you still have 50 meters to go! Last year I ran this lap in 1:12! This time I was crawling in comparison. 1:20 (5:32/mile).

Official Finish Time: 5:22
Official Pace: 5:22/mile
Garmin Pace: 5:22/mile
1/2 mile splits: 2:40 and 2:42

Place Overall: 2nd out of 12

I ran by feel and ran pretty even splits, so that's something to be proud of. Otherwise, it was the first time in my life I've run back-to-back races so I just didn't have the turnover or the energy to even come close to my 5:08 PR set last year. In any case, I ran the race for fun and I had fun!

Post Race:
A guy in a white shirt (as seen in the pic above) handed me my 2nd place medal right after I crossed the finish line. I talked to the winner briefly. He finished in 5:02, so I would've had to PR by a ton to have even come close to beating him. Anyway, I spoke with a nice Polish woman who was there with her teenage son who was running the elite race. She congratulated me on a fast race and said that when she was younger she had run a PR of 16:09 in the 5k! We chatted for awhile, then I went over and watched the next heat and ate a free sausage from the concession stand. Before I left, I said my goodbyes to the track and to Luther North High School - saddened that this great race won't happen again.

Next Up:
Maybe the Chicago Rock n' Roll Half next month.


  1. Congrats on your 2d place finish! I think you still did amazingly well in spite of running a 10k the day before!

    I hope to see you at RnR! Marcia and I will be there!

    1. Thanks! Yes, I am about 50/50 right now for the RnR. Would be great to see you guys there!

  2. Wow, Pete! Sounds like a good race and especially so on tired legs. Congrats! Sorry to hear the school is closing (do you know why it is?).

    1. Thanks! Yes, it was just fun being out there despite the tired legs. The school is closing due to declining enrollment. I really grooved on the high school track meet vibe. I will have to see if any other schools/colleges have an "open track meet" type event.

  3. Congrats! Even with the school closing, why wouldn't be event be held at another school? Just curious.

    1. Thanks. The track coach from the high school and the school itself were the ones sponsoring the race. Perhaps he will find a job at another school and host it there? Although, he did name it the "Final Grim Mile", so maybe not! :)

  4. Wow that sure is speedy for tired legs! :) Have you ever done the Humboldt Mile?

    1. Thanks. Yes, I ran the Humboldt Mile last year. It is a fast race since there were only two turns! Now that the Grim Mile is history, the Humboldt Mile might become my go to annual mile race.

  5. Congrats! Those are consistent splits even with swerving around those spectators (and dead legs from the 10K)! It's fun that the school went all out for the last event. Sad it's the last though!!!