Friday, July 16, 2010

19 little seconds away

One of the goals on my list is to break a 6-minute mile. This has actually been a goal of mine since high school when I ran the mile for indoor track.

I started my freshman year running the 400-meter sprint. At the end of the season, my track coach realized that despite frequent intense training sessions, my time from the last race of the season was the same as the first. So, by sophomore year, I was running distance and I was thrilled to finally see my time decrease with hard training.

From the sidelines, I saw gym and state records being broken... by my teammates on a regular basis, and I wanted more than anything to get my mile time under 6 minutes. I certainly wouldn't be breaking records, but I was so tired of seeing sixes. I was ready to be a fiver.

My Junior year, I treated track as a sport and not a just a way to stay in shape during the winter. In my last race of the season, I ran the mile in 6:18, and that’s been my personal record ever since.

Fast forward 11 years, and I found myself struggling to even be a seven-minute miler. So, when my bucket list came around, I thought, hell, why not!

Since March, I’ve been working with a trainer, and for the first time ever, I did more than just running to train. I finally understood how important core strengthening was for keeping your form, and how squats help your spring in that last half of the race. I was lifting, pushing and running intervals.

Between sessions, I ran the fastest mile I could on the treadmill, and every other day, I went a notch higher anticipating that moment when I would hit 9.5 miles per hour…a 6:18 minute mile.

One Tuesday while playing 1,2,3,4 by Ozomatli with my water by my side, I did it! Staring at the treadmill number 29, designated by the gym, I reached a meditation interrupted only by the inconvenience of having to start the song over again on my iPod. I stepped off the treadmill with a sweaty grin on my face and stumbled to the locker room hoping someone would ask me what I had accomplished.

19 seconds away, I thought, and yes, I would be perfectly content if I ran 5:59, because even then, I would be a happy fiver.

But soon after, I faced other challenges that would keep me from achieving my goal. My trainer, who I gave credit to any progress, had quit.

I was in a windsurfing competition, where I came very close to pulling my quad and had to take a week off to prevent injury.

I also made the mistake of assuming that a treadmill mile was the same as a road mile, which was proven wrong in a recent hilly 3.5 mile road race, where my first mile pace was 7:30, not 6:18.

I set my treadmill to an incline of 1, and gave up prematurely, realizing that I might as well start over. I decided to be a fiver on a flat revolving surface before putting up barriers. Yesterday, I set my treadmill to 9.6, a 6:15 mile, and also had to quit early…This was going to be harder than I thought.

Before the summer ends, I'm going to step on treadmill #29 and set it to 10.1, and I won't step off until I'm a fiver. I'm only 19 little seconds away. How hard could it be?