The inaugural Mass Ave Mile went from Porter Square in Cambridge to Harvard Square. They had us line up about 10 minutes before the start, and I appreciated their informal line-up procedure, "If you're going to run 5:20 or less, toe the line; otherwise line up behind the line." I got behind the line. The course was slightly downhill, and it was a small field; only 339 runners. There was no pistol at the start, just a guy yelling "GO!" through a megaphone.
I quickly caught up with a fellow running club member and ran with him for about a half mile. At that point I was all, "I can go faster than him, he's 68!" I pulled slowly away from him and tried to focus on my cadence and form, while trying not to step in any potholes. Despite all my recent efforts to improve my form, I still felt like an out-of-control gorilla.
There were clocks at every 1/4 mile, and I was slightly ahead of schedule at the 1/4 and right on at the 1/2 and the 3/4. I had planned to start kicking at the 3/4 but I felt a little sluggish so I thought I'd wait a few seconds. I saw Tom burning by me on the outside and I was all "Jesus Lord he's 68!" I think I got distracted when he cruised by, and once I realized I should start the kick, I could see the finish line and then it was over.
I kept saying all week that I can do anything for 7 minutes, and it turned out to be true. I can't wait to run this race again next year. Predictably, I'm now second-guessing my goal. Should I have aimed higher? I might have been able to go a little faster, right?
After every race, I put my time into the awesome McMillan Pace Calculator, which tells you what times you should be able to run at different distances, assuming the same effort as your recent race. Today's race was the fastest I've run according to the calculator, which is awesome and uplifting and immeasurably satisfying. And sort of awful. Awesome because it says I can run a marathon in 3:57 (and a 100-miler in 22:50!), and awful because it also said I should do tempo runs at 8:05 pace and a long run every week in the 9-10:00 range. But if this is what I need to do to get faster, I will do it.
I'm proud of this race because it proved to me that I can get faster. I may have no natural talent for running at all, but I am not completely broken. I did 8 speed workouts over the past month, and even with the week off (from speedwork) after my spontaneous half marathon, I still went faster than the 7:15 that the calculator predicted based on my June 5k race. A whole 4% faster! I believe I can improve my mile time with more speedwork, which I am going to do every week for the rest of my life.
Now I'm entering no man's land; where it's too early to start training for my next marathon so I have nothing to live for. I obviously need to sign up for another race. I'm thinking of doing a half marathon in October, and I've narrowed it down to the Cape Cod Half Marathon or the Baystate Half Marathon. I have to get out a calendar and see what makes more sense.
But for now I'm going to do what I do best after a race: lay in bed and sigh.