It’s been about 5 years since I’ve raced on a track, so it’s not surprising that I jumped on the opportunity to race a mile at the University of Buffalo when it presented itself. I couldn’t have asked for better weather, as it was sunny and in the 60’s the entire day. When I registered, I had to select an estimated finish time window so they knew what heat to put me in. As I haven’t been training for a mile and can’t remember the last time I raced a single mile all out, I struggled with this and took my best guess. I opted to put myself in the 5:30 – 7:00 minute heat, the third of four heats, thinking a sub 5:30 mile was well out of my ability at this point. As was common for me in high school and college I was constantly second guessing when I should begin my warm up. It turns out I timed it perfectly and had just the right amount of time to spike up and do some strides after my 2 mile warm up.
There were around 30 people in this heat. I was seeded number 21, so I started in the second row of lane one. This isn’t my ideal starting position as I don’t like to be boxed in, especially at the start. Sure enough, the gun went off and I felt the all too common claustrophic feeling of not being able to go full stride in fear of tripping over those in front of me. Luckily, I was able to break out early on in the back stretch of lap 1 and move up to the front pack that had formed. My first lap was a little slower than what I had wanted, so I knew I had to do some work to make up for lost time. I moved up to run with the front two leaders during lap 2 and tucked in behind the front runner for most of lap 3. With 500 meters to go, I made my move and took the lead. I was still feeling good so I started pushing and opening up the gap on lap 4. Coming down the home stretch I heard the announcer say I could break 5:30 so I started my kick and hoped for the best.
In the end, I came through at 5:23 and took the win for that heat. I used to run much faster, but I was happy to see that my legs still had some decent turnover in them, especially when I haven’t specifically been training for a mile.