Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Magnificent Mile, 9/13/09

Maybe I should lead up to this race. After softball Finals were over, I decided on Labor Day weekend that perhaps I had better start to train for the upcoming road races. Not that I had not tried. Oh, yes, I had tried. But I had not gotten far. Less than a block and my left knee would balk. Since I did not want to screw it up for the softball competition, I stopped trying anything which used slow twitch or distance muscles. I stuck with just running bases and in the outfield.

But now decision time had arrived. Either I was going to stop running road races or I wasn't. What better test than to go out to Umstead State Park and its hills and see what happens. So I did. Labor Day weekend I went two days in a row (dummy, eh?) and jogged-walked four miles. On the first day I had previously walked the same area with my dog, who was not too keen to walk the hills either. I took Reedy Creek Lake trail (downhill but on return an ugly uphill), up Reedy Creek trail to Cedar Ridge and back. Ugh. Both days four miles roundtrip and 45 minutes.

I felt it later in the week.

By the time of the Mag Mile, I was not too optimistic about how I would do. I expected to walk somewhere within the mile and not once but maybe more. I feared having to drop to a walk by the time I hit the first corner of the Capital. (The race goes down Hillsborough St in Raleigh, around the Capital and back up Hillsborough. Since it is an NC USATF Championship Mile event, with cash awards for the top three men and top three women, lots of whoop de do runners come out.It was 81 degrees and sunny. They ran the men's race first and zounds! The fellow who came in first, Bobby Mack, was really moving, coming in at 4:10. The next fourteen men (not all listed as USATF members)came in under five minutes. 187 men raced.

I lined up maybe eight rows or so back since I did not want to be trampled. When the race began I concentrated on getting out of the way and moderating my pace so I could at least get to the Capital before burning out at my ever so slow pace. Yes, when we reached the Capital and began the curve to the first full street around it, I flagged but did not stop. I forced myself to keep moving faster than a walk. Up the street and around the curve to the back side of the Capital. People passed. The crowd had long since cleared. Around the next curve. I remembered that this is where I dropped to a walk last year. Not this time. Slow, but still not walking. This is always the point at which I think we are going to run diagonal back to the beginning of Hillsborough, but no! Yet another corner to take and then, finally, I see up ahead the runners turning onto Hillsborough. A forever slog for me.

Those finishing blocks on Hillsborough seem to be made of infinitesimal inclines that only I can sense. At last I can see the finishing mat. But there is nothing left to give a final sprint. Nothing. But I did finish and I did not walk.

The winning woman was Kasia Sujkowski at a time of 5:03 and she was closely followed by Toni Salucci who had the same time except for maybe a thousandth of a second or so. The next 18 finished under 6 minutes. 164 women ran the race. My time was 8:50. As it turned out, this was my fastest time of the three times I have run this race. Probably because I did not walk while going around the Capital.

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