One mile doesn't make for a very fun race. Especially if it's almost 90 degrees and you have to wait 40 minutes for your heat to start.
When my heat finally did start I found myself frustrated by a bunch of women who decided to line up at the start line, but apparently just "take it easy." Unfortunately when I blew by them, my frustration turned to aggression as I took off at a blistering (that is, blistering for me) pace.
I reached the 1/4 mile point in 1:19. Uh oh. That's a 5:16 pace. I may be faster than I think, but I'm not that fast. I slowed down some and reached the half mile mark at 2:58. Better. But I felt like quitting. I mean, it just felt terrible to be working that hard.
I don't remember my 3/4 mile split, but I do remember thinking I needed to pick it up a bit. When the finishing clock finally came into focus for me (I was running without contacts) I saw it turn from 5:59 to 6:00. Time to pick it up. I needed to get there in 31 seconds to beat my PR (set during the Presidential Physical Fitness Test in high school).
I crossed the line in 6:30. And I felt terrible. I was gasping for air, my chest felt tight and my legs were aching. But I met my goal. And that felt good. I grabbed a bottle of water and headed to the car. I had all the fun I could stand at this point.
I think the Harrisburg Mile would have been more fun for me if I had friends around who were running it or even if I just hadn't gone alone. It's a festival-like atmosphere with sponser's booths set up and they were selling italian ice and hot dogs.
I did run into one of my softball teammates, Aaron, who was running in the corporate challenge for his company, Mike Baker Associates. Softball beat him up pretty good this year, so while I do hope that he ran fast, I really hope he didn't get hurt for our game tomorrow.
I think the most disappointing part of this race was that it was a 15 minute drive, a 40 minute wait and a $20 entry fee for 6 and half minutes of gasping and watching the person in front of you. And in my case, the people passing you. In contrast, consider the Finger Lakes Fifties, which is a bit more of a drive but includes sloshing on muddy trails, remarkable views of Seneca Lake and a pace that allows you to actually talk to other runners. So if I learned anything today, it's that running longer is more fun!
P.S. - Based on my 6:30 finish, the Runner's World training calculator now estimates my marathon finish time as 3:27:10. Maybe I need to be gasping for air more on my long runs?