Olympia, WA -
Ever impatient, I decided on a whim this afternoon to set up a baseline for my attempt to once again break five minutes in the mile, and mark how long it takes me to do it.
Three blocks into an afternoon run that was prompted by equal parts ennui and ambition, I turned around to grab my watch and head over to Reeves Middle School for a this-is-how-far-I've-come time trial that I can look back on in the spring and laugh at, and possibly feel a sliver of pride.
I arrived at the track after a mile plus warm up, did a few strides and attempted to psyche myself up for my first race-like behavior in two months, and my first one miler since 2007.
Mostly, I just wanted to be able to say that I didn't give up at 800m and start jogging the rest of the way.
Turns out, that was easier said than done.
I honestly had no basis for my current race fitness, but estimated (and told at least a dozen people in an e-mail) that I could run a 5:40 while hoping I could surprise myself with a 5:34 and worrying that I wouldn't even be able to break six.
The plan of attack, after a couple minutes of internal debate between busting out gung-ho style with an :80 or pushing for even-to-negative with an :85, was to go for the :85, which I almost did.
After an opening :40, I came through in :83 for the first quarter, and by the 500m mark I knew I had no prayer at a 5:40. It was then that, not only did running sub-6 pace become really fucking hard, but I also saw a crisp dollar bill in lane three and I developed the urge to stop and pick it up.
Lap two was an :88.
Lap three, no surprise, was a :92. I was running 6:10 pace and feeling that old third lap feeling, which is a mixture of helplessness, dread, frustration and despair. I knew I could close with at least a 20 for my last hundred, but what would precede that?
I rolled through my penultimate 200m in :45, all but assuring me a sub-6 performance, but I would need to drop it down to 5 flat pace to break 5:50, which, this late into the race, was nothing but icing.
Turns out I pushed through that grueling final half lap in :40, good enough for a 5:51.88.
Ladies and gentlemen, a baseline.
Guarantee I break 5:40 next week. Guar-an-fucking-tee.
Beers drunk so far
Leavenworth Hodgon's IPA
Fish Tale Old Woody (on cask)