I laced up my racing flats today for the first time in seven years. My husband and I have spent the last eight weeks training for the Congress Avenue Mile. Now, before you roll your eyes and think that the mile is an easy race, trust me that it is not.
I have enjoyed the rigor of track training– doing repeat intervals of short distances at very fast paces with short recovery periods. It is invigorating to feel your heart beating and be gasping for breath. As crazy as it sounds, I can get more tired doing intervals preparing for a mile than I do running for several hours preparing for a marathon. Our training efforts were ready to be put to the test.
The course began on the south steps of the Texas Capitol, pounding down the hill of the capitol grounds to Congress Avenue, where the course was a straight shot on a slight downhill to the far end of the Ann Richards bridge, home to Austin’s famous Mexican Freetail Bat Colony.
The morning was muggy with a decent breeze. Unfortunately, by the time my heat started the breeze had turned into a headwind. I lined up in the starting chute in about the fifth row, as I thought that my goal time of 6.15 placed me near, but not at, the front.
At the starting horn, I allowed myself to be pulled out with the lead pack. I should have known better than to try to hang with the top ten women, but the steep downhill and the excitement of the race took over. My first quarter-mile was exceptional, too bad the race was a full mile! It was unlikely under any circumstances that I’d be able to turn in the 5.40 mile for which I’d set the pace.
I hung on through three-quarters of a mile, still on pace to finish in 6.15. I was, however, out of gas. I felt the headwind pushing against me, felt my legs heavy as lead, and felt as if I was moving backwards. Despite the course being marked with 300, 200, and 100 meters to go, I’m pretty sure the last quarter-mile was longer than the first three-quarters. It wasn’t pretty!
I finished in 6.30, which was the upper limit of the time I said I’d feel contented with. Now that it’s over, I don’t feel particularly contented! I made a foolish, rookie mistake that in all my years of road-racing I’ve never done: go out too fast.
Oh, well. Lesson learned.
And should I forget it, my dear husband who turned in a fantastic 6.18 mile will certainly remind me.
Good health and happiness to you!