The Fastest Mile of My Life!

I went outside my comfort zone yesterday and raced a mile (for the first time ever!). The Forest Avenue Mile (on Staten Island) has been a race that I have planned to run the last few years, but when the time comes, I wimp out or make excuses as to why it’s not the right time (usually because it’s smack dab in the middle of spring marathon training).

My coach and I decided about two months ago that this would be one of the two races I ran prior to Boston Marathon. Period. Boston training has gone really well (knock on wood) and I felt like a “down” week in mileage (both total and long run) might be a good thing before the last final push prior Marathon Monday.

I did a mini-taper for this race. Regular speedwork on Wednesday, normal planned mileage for Thursday and then reduced mileage for Friday (6-7 miles) and Saturday (4-5 miles).

So, onto the race. It started at 12:10pm which made it a bit tricky for me in regards to fueling beforehand. I ate my usual breakfast early (3 eggs with brussel sprouts, onions and tomatoes) and then a banana with almond butter late morning. No stomach or energy issues, so that went well!

The forecast looked almost perfect – 32-35 degrees with minimal wind at race start. Unfortunately, the winter storm that was projected to come in late afternoon picked up speed and we got hit with it about 30 minutes before the race started. Which meant a stronger headwind, cooler tempos (20 degrees with windchill) and snow. Not ideal, but based on the weather so far this winter, it could have been a lot worse!

I warmed up a couple of miles then went back inside the hair salon where registration and bib pick-up was being held. So grateful for a warm place to hang out (and a clean bathroom!) and chat with my friend, Caroline (who came in first in her AG!). 15 minutes before the race began, I made my way back outside to do some strides (and ended up running a bit more with my friend Tommy as a way to stay warm).

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We’ve known each other since grade school!

The race is a point-to-point course along Forest Avenue. Immediately following the race is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Staten Island – so there were quite a number of spectators along the course despite the weather conditions.

Race plan from my coach was really simple:
There is no pacing plan.
Start fast and then pick up pace. 

I was really nervous in the minutes leading up to the race. I wasn’t really worried about my finish time, but more for the pain I was about to put my body through. A mile race is a sprint from start to finish. You run as hard as you possibly can from the moment the gun goes off and then just hang on until the finish.

Shortly after 12:10pm, the horn blasted and we were off. The first 1/4 mile was exhilarating, fun and super fast (it’s a downhill start). The next 1/2 mile was painful. The wind had picked up, I was freezing (especially my feet) and the snow was pelting my face. All while watching my pace slowly drop. By the 3/4 mile mark, my garmin was showing a 5:50 pace. My goal was 5:45 – no real rhyme or reason in selecting this time – more of just an arbitrary number that I felt sounded good.

So, with about .2 miles left, I told myself to finish with no regrets. It would all be over in a minute. I found one last gear and picked up the pace until I crossed the finish.

photo 1 (36)

Race photo – right before the finish line

Official time -> 5:42.14 (garmin showed a 4:37 pace at the very end!)
4th female overall (I was beat by three high school girls – I’m twice as old and half as fast! HA)
1st in AG (F 30-39)

photo 2 (34)

Obligatory watch pic because I’ve never seen a “5” for a mile before! (Note: I was focused on crossing finish line in one piece so didn’t get to hit “stop” right away!)

I really can’t speak highly enough about this race. It was so well-organized – from the local stores which allowed us to stay warm, to the clothes truck which brought bags and clothes to the finish line, to the free and awesome race photos…it’s definitely a race that I plan to put on my calendar each year.

And I especially love local races. There’s a family feeling that you just don’t get at the larger races I have participated in. It’s wonderful to see familiar faces during the warmup, hear people call your name as you are racing by and then have friends wait for you at the finish. I got hugs and kisses from Tommy (I’ve known him since grade school!), John (my friend who I ran side-by-side with during the NYC Marathon this past fall), Mark (the president of the Staten Island Athletic Club), Caroline (one of John’s friends – we met in the fall and are planning on doing some training together), parents from my son’s school and countless other friends who I’ve met through running. It’s a warm and comforting environment that feels like home.

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    19 thoughts on “The Fastest Mile of My Life!

    1. Pingback: 2016 Forest Avenue Mile -> 14 Sec PR!

    2. Pingback: Speed is Relative (Women’s Running) |

    3. Congratulations on such a speedy race! I really want to race the mile this year. After Boston, I’m going to try to focus on shorter distances and getting fast. You inspire me, girl! Thank you for your blog.

    4. Woo hoo!! You crushed it!! You are going to do so awesome in Boston!
      This sounds like a great race and love your pic before the finish line!!
      I thinking racing a mile would be so fun – I haven’t done one in a long time – CONGRATS!!
      Natalie recently posted..Weekend Recap!My Profile

    5. WOW Michelle!!!! Congratulations. I was so, so excited when I saw this on FB. I cannot imagine the pain you were in by the half-mile mark but so, so worth it. I also really love that only the high school girls could beat you – that is amazing and so are YOU!!! Fantastic!
      Allie recently posted..The Rundown: Vegas WeekMy Profile

    6. It’s so awesome that you ran a mile race! We have one here in SC, but it’s in like, August, which is super hot. I haven’t run it (I was injured last year in June and was scared to run that fast come August). I think it would be really fun, just to see what I could do. That’s an amazing time and congratulations on winning your age group, especially in those conditions!
      Amy Lauren recently posted..Training for the All American Marathon (Feb 23 – March 1)My Profile