This was going to be my last opportunity to race a mile on the track this year in my quest to beat my time of 6:32 from way back in 1999 and I was about to bail on it. With the heat wave of 90F + days and high humidity I was doubting there was even the slightest possibility it was going to happen so why bother taking the time to drive to Chapel Hill to suffer for nothing? But, hey I love this stuff so I just decided to go and give it my best anyway.
When I arrived at the track it was still about 90 and the sun was bearing down during my warmup. I could barely breathe in the thick air. I checked the weather and the humidity had climbed back to 81% and with the dewpoint of 79 lets just say it was miserable. I wet my head to cool off as much as I could and then went back on the track for a few strides just before the gun. Thankfully a cloud covered the track just minutes before the start taking some of the edge off the heat.
I just tried to relax as the gun went off hoping to keep the first lap around 1:37 but I doubted that was even possible in these conditions. I had a bit of trouble getting around a slower runner in the first curve but as soon as I did I had open track ahead of me but tried not to push it and try to make up any time lost. As I approached the first 400 I was expecting to be slow, around 1:40 so when I heard 1:34 I was very surprised. Could this really be the night?
I settled in just trying to maintain on lap two but it was so hot and I was breathing so hard and already my legs were getting heavy. I was thrilled to hit 800 in 3:12, a 1:38 split time for the 400. This was exactly the time I had gone through 800 in the Pop up mile in much better conditions. I had a good cushion but would I fall apart this time?
Lap 3 once again proved to be the slowest in 1:42 but 4:54 for 1200 and I still had a shot if I could just hang on. The problem was I felt like dying and just packing it in but there was no way I could do that. Only a quarter mile of hurting to go. I was going for it or they would have to scrape me off the track. With 150 meters to go I just thought back to my workout the week before when I was able to relax and somehow find a little more speed. But was it enough? Then miraculously with 50 meters more I somehow dredged up a kick and crossed the line in 6:31 ! Somehow under these awful conditions I was able to run the last lap in 1:37. A few gasp and then a celebration ! I then went straight to my phone to message the results to Laura who was eagerly awaiting the news since she couldn't make it to watch.
I couldn't be any happier with the results, especially under these conditions. For years I was even afraid to try and race an all out mile because of the risk of injury but all summer with the speedwork and now 4 mile races my legs and hips feel stronger than they have in years. And I really feel I have a lot more speed in this old body but no more track this year. Now, I look forward to building on this as I get ready for some Fall road racing again ! But no Ultras !