Sunday, May 19, 2013

Race report: PVTC Track Mile, May 19, 2013

I ran the mile at the PVTC track meet this morning, finishing in 5:44.  It's fair bit off of my PR, but that's fine - I'm still early in the process of trying to redevelop my speed.  Today was realistically not going to be a PR attempt, but rather just getting used to racing such a short distance again.

The PVTC races used to be held at a track in Falls Church, Virginia; but moved this year to a track in Alexandria (Edison HS).    When I arrived at the race, the first thing I did (after registering) was to check out the track.  It was interesting - something as standardized as a track can still come in many different shapes.  In this case, the Edison HS track is elongated and narrow - the turns are somewhat tight, and the straightaways quite long - well over 100m.  Interesting.

So, jogged around the track, did drills and strides, chatted with friends, and then gathered with others in the infield before the race start to be divided into heats.  There was some discussion about how to divide the heats, with the end conclusion being that the first heat would be 5:30 or faster, the second heat 5:30-6, and then the balance of runners in the third heat.  Last year, I would have gone with the 5:30 or faster heat, but this year I was pretty sure that 5:30-6:00 was where I belonged.  Plus, there were three other girls (My teammate Jessica, blogging friend Vanessa, and "Liz" - whom I knew from this race two years back) who would be in that heat, so I knew that I'd have other people in my approximate range.

At the start
(Picture by my friend Janet - and yes, that's a large heat)
Of course, the 5:30-6:00 heat was a big one - approximately 20 runners.  At the start line, I placed myself on the outside - figuring I'd start a bit slow and stay wide to avoid what would be a large group of kids (and 40 year old kids at heart) who would start very fast and then fade badly between 300-600m.

Another Janet picture - me rabbiting in the middle of the race.
And that was pretty much what happened.  The first 400 m (and definitely the first 200) we just a free for all - I ran wide to the outside and just tried to stay out of trouble.  But then the crowds dwindled a bit, and I was able to start picking my way though (though not without a bit of dodging).

I had commented before the race's start that I'd probably end up rabbiting Jessica, Vanessa, and Liz for a bit, and that was what happened for the next lap or two - I could hear Jessica breathing behind me, and could also sense, in that weird runner's way, that I had a few more behind me.  I kept my rhythm and focused on sustaining a hard (but not straining) effort, dropping it down a bit more with each lap.

One of the things I've been told is that I need to work on having more knee lift and explosiveness in these shorter races.  When I try to run fast, I often just increase my turnover, while leaning back and shuffling.  Not conducive to true speed.  So, for the last 400m, I tried not only to up the effort, but also to lift my knees more, pump my arms hard, and use a long powerful stride - using the same form tenets I am hopefully developing doing drills.
Home stretch - my knees are up a bit, right?

I did end up closing fairly strong, in terms of how I finished next to other competitors.    But I felt like I had a lot more speed that I couldn't quite access.  I would have LOVED LOVED LOVED to run that last lap faster and hurt more.  But I had the equivalent of a full fuel tank but a narrow fuel line. When I finished, I wasn't breathing that hard and could have run another mile with about 5 minutes rest.  But I didn't have a higher gear during the race.  But my sense is that I just need to do more of these, and that experience combined with many drills, strides, and interval workouts focused on speed, will help me cut a great deal of time from my mile this summer.

Splits ended up being 88, 87, 85, 84.   No, I didn't take manual splits.  Instead, I set my Garmin to autolap from the start.  The Garmin isn't that accurate, and seemed to take the split at some point after I passed the start point.  So what I have is four splits of a bit over 400m each.  But still good enough to give me some basic info.

Other notes:
  • Weather was pretty sticky - temp 63, dew point 62, and light rain at times (but not during race).  Great thing about these mile races is that humidity is generally not a factor, though.
  • The track was definitely wet.  I own a pair of spikes but have never raced in them - part of me wonders if I shouldn't wear them next time we've got wet conditions - at times I felt that I was slipping a bit on the track.  On the other hand, this is not my focus distance, and the last thing I want to do is to get myself injured.  And spikes do increase the injury risk.
  • Weird HR conundrum continues.  Here's the geeky overanalysis:  Basically, I can NOT get my HR up in a mile race.  For this race, my HR maxed at 173.  By contrast, my HR average for the Broad Street 10 Miler was 172, and my max HR for that race was 183.  My maximum HR in my marathon was higher than what I see in mile races.  It's always been this way, it's weird, and I think explains why these mile races don't hurt that much - I just don't seem to accelerate fast enough to push my HR up in such a short period of time.  It's not that I don't want to hurt (if it was, I wouldn't be hitting those higher heart rates during longer races).  I just don't have the mechanics down to the point where I'm able to achieve that level of exertion over such a short period of time.  Again, homework.


  1. I love your mile race reports and your heart rate analysis. I really like how you were strategic about your placement and went wide in the beginning to avoid weaving in the beginning. I might disagree on the humidity-- I notice a higher heart rate even in the first mile of my training runs when it's humid. Congrats!

  2. Always enlightening reports. Nice effort out there - I have faith that your speed will come!