Last night was one of the most important events on my calendar - the Maryland Twilight Meet, featuring the Alumni Mile. Now in its 3rd year, the event began in 2009 as a last opportunity for the team to race, and as a way to reconnect the alumni to the program. That first year I was super pumped to get out there and race a mile. There was a good field and I was looking to run fast. Well, that failed. I ended up running a disappointing 5:13, getting beat by Laurel in the process. At least they had Chick-Fil-A sandwiches for us, and got t-shirts and hats.
Year 2, last year, was a different story. Just 6 weeks off my second knee surgery and I hadn't run at all, but there were only 3 starters on the line and they weren't going to hold the event with just 3. So I sucked it up. I finished in 4th, in 6:15, behind Denise this time. Still, for not having run in a long time, I was psyched I could run that fast.
This year I tried to rally support for the event. The trouble is, anyone who was a sprinter on the team didn't want to run a mile, and it's as if people just don't run anymore. Everyone whines about how they're not in shape. This is the worst excuse in the world. If you ran for a Division 1 school, I'm pretty sure that, unless your legs have been amputated, you can make it through a mile. As an aside, even if my legs were amputated, I would still do it. Not being in shape is never an excuse. It's not like you register for this event, pay for it, nor is it truly serious.
In the end, there were a dozen of us on the line. And, everyone was interested in running as fast as they could. Conrad was the designated pacesetter, and took us through the first 409 meters in 75.6. We had a pack of Conrad, Doug, Prada and Tom Stott. The pace was comfortably hard, but I was disappointed to see a split over 75. Not going to help me run under 5, that's for sure. The 2nd lap was picked up, and we came through in 73.3 (2:28.9 at the half). I was holding on, but it was getting difficult. I was tightening up, and just trying to tick my legs over.
The third quarter was key, and I split 75.5. If I was going to get under 5, it was going to be by the closest of margins.
I was fortunate to have an unreal support crew out there. Alyssa, Brennan, Melissa, Pat, Pete and Alex B had come down to spectate. Cheese, Arjun, Tristram, Diane and Meg D were all finished with their race(s) so they were all over the track, and Wiggy was out there giving some encouragement at the 200 mark as well.
No matter what I did on that last lap, it was going to be better than 2009, but I really had to get under 5. Coming up the final straight, I could see the clock, and was charging as hard as I could. As I crossed the line, I thought I had it. I was spent. My watch read 4:59.6. Pat had .66. Alyssa had .7. Brad Jaeger had .9. I felt as if I had certainly gotten under 5. My last lap was 75.2.
Then the official results were posted and it was revealed that I ran a 5:00.11. Bullshit! No way on earth. I was disappointed, because coming THAT close and missing by such a marginal amount is obviously frustrating, but I was really excited with the race. It's the fastest mile (other than the downhill road mile) I've run since 2002 probably. It was an even race, and it was a competitive race. I felt good after the warmup, like I was actually ready to race. I didn't give up during the race when it got hard. Of course now I feel like a herb because two of the mile races I've run in the last 3 years have results in 5:00.99 (indoors) and 5:00.11 (outdoors).
The good news is that I was in pretty good shape in 2008 when I ran that indoor race, so I feel like I can still run pretty quick. My foot was killing me after the race, unfortunately. But we did go on a sweet cooldown through North Campus, ran through a rave by North Woods (in the courtyard) and then saw the new Oakland Hall. On the warmup, got to run down College Ave, up past the sororities and frats and Knox Rd. I always love going back to CP. And it was an especially surreal day to head down there as men's basketball coach Gary Williams had just announced his retirement after 22 years.
The conditions had evolved into perfection by race time, too. It had been windy all day, but the wind died and the temp was perfect at around 60. You don't get many days like that to race a mile! Also, Laurel didn't show up, so I didn't have to worry about getting beat by her. I'll have some chances to run another mile this summer, probably at a BRRC meet, but I need to get under 5 again.
This was a really good race for me with a great result. My 4:50 at the Westminster Mile I figured would put me at 5:03 on the track, but I also didn't have any faith in running that quick as I felt like I've not done the work to warrant running that fast. I realistically thought I would run a 5:08 or 5:09, so this was good.