On Sunday it was my annual track race, the 1 mile race at Pitreavie AAC. I ran this last year as a 'line in the sand' to see how fast I could run over a mile. The reason was it was this time last year that I thought I would try and get a qualifying time for the Commonwealth games. Last year I covered the mile in 5:24.83 and the target pace for the marathon is 5:18 minutes per mile. I had some work to do!
This year I got to the track, collected my race number, put on my spikes and was ready to go. Within 50 metres of the gun going off for the start, I was dead last, no surprise there since the others are born and bred track runners but it was still soul destroying thinking I may be lapped!!
After the first lap I was ready for pulling out of the race, I felt rubbish, my body was tense and I just wasn't running freely at all. I think I get myself too nervous for these races. 6 runners on the start line, a grand stand full of spectators, it really gets me on edge and not in a constructive way. It was also the final, I won't mention that there wasn't any heats as it sounds better than I made to to the final 6 for the race!!
The second lap came around and now I was really slowing, I felt like I was running through syrup but there was only 2 laps to go and each time I came past the grand stand the spectators gave me a cheer and a clap which did make a difference. I felt I had to finish now after the support they were giving me.
I decided not to run with my Garmin, I just wanted to run as hard as I felt I could rather than getting more nervous by seeing my first 400m pace.
The gap between me and fifth place was massive, I had no-one to chase, it did feel like I was running on the track on my own and for the last 300 metres I was! Everyone else had finished the race and there I was still slogging it out. I wasn't lapped which was a relief.
The final hundred metres and I finally felt a bit more relaxed, my mouth wasn't as dry any more but I was still struggling. I crossed the line and I was spent! I'd given it my all.
What did surprise me was I finished in 5:19.20, a new PB and almost the pace I would need to run for another 25.2 miles to get a qualifying time for the Commonwealth games!!
It was a really strong reminder as to how it feels to be near the back or dead last in a race, it feels horrible. I had forgotten how it felt to watch everyone else pull away from you. Helpless to do anything about it because you are already running flat out. It also reminded me why I try and shout encouragement to anyone I do see out on a course when the course allows the faster runners to see the tail of the pack. No matter how quick you are, you are still in the same race and giving it your best.
My target for next year is to shave of those 19 seconds and get sub 5 for the mile. It is amazing to think though, 5:19 isn't a slow mile but for the spectators it must have looked like I was out for a jog compared with the first runners to finish.
So, my point of this blog is, say hi or give someone a wee wave of encouragement during your next race. If you pass someone, tell them they are running great and to keep going. Small things like that can make a huge difference to people.
Thanks to Steve Adam for the photo, more photos from the day can be found on Flickr.