Indoor Track Meet: the Mile!

>> Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sunday morning, I headed to the Bethel Campus and their indoor track. Charities Challenge was hosting another track meet. (I had done 2 of them 2 years ago, where I tried my hand at the mile each time.)

I got there early JUST as people were starting to show up:

My old coach must have gotten to me - I felt the need to warm-up. A lot. ;) I did over a mile in my “regular” running shoes, and then I changed into my racing flats:

I warmed-up over another half mile in my flats. I hadn’t put on my flats since Liberty Oly Tri back in June! (I wore my old track spikes for the 2 indoor meets 2 years ago, but they beat up my feet, so I played it smart and brought out my racing flats for this one.)

I had talked over my "race plan" with Pharmie a few days before the race. I told her I was hoping for 1:13 / 400 so that even if some were longer (like 1:13.8 [or whatever]), I could still get a PR. My PR from 2 years ago is 4:54.6. The morning of the race, I jotted down what P.E.R.F.E.C.T. race splits would look like. Here they are:

First mile (12/08) in the upper left, 2 weeks later (01/09) in the upper right,
HOPEFUL splits from a perfect race at the bottom.

So I had told Pharmie that any PR would be GREAT, but I COULD maybe go a few seconds faster. It had been 2 years since I last raced an all-out mile; I had NO idea what I could do!

The track was filling up with familiar faces from the local running scene:

The first event was the 60 meter dash. No thanks. I just kept warming up and watched a few heats go off:

4 of these 5 guys went well under 8 seconds!

The second event was the mile! (Yes, it was a true mile - not "just" a 1600. We started back 9 meters from the start/finish line.) The first of 3 heats was the "fast" heat: anyone hoping for 5:15 or faster. I was surrounded by "kids" (high schoolers) and "old guys" (guys in their 50s). I asked who was shooting for around 4:50. A few of us talked about hopeful finishing times.

I lined up in the middle, just off the back shoulder of 2 of the "youngens" shooting for a fast time. I know my place. BEHIND the speedy kids. ;)

"Runners to your marks....." **BANG**

We all took off, and we were all single-file by 30 meters in the race. I was in 5th, just behind a guy around my age who was the coach for some of these youngens. I held it there for the first 2 laps, and tried to keep a good pace.

First 400: 1:13. "Good. Right on track." No complaints. Feeling OK, but ready for the hurt to start.

Second 400: 1:13. "NICE! Can I really do this?!?" This is where it really started to hurt. I told myself to go HARD for the third 400. Back in my track days (first 2 years of HS) when I ran the 800, it was always the third 200 that KILLED me, and the third 400 in the mile feels the same way. "Keep it strong, Steve!"

Also, I was debating passing the coach in front of me. I would sometimes swing wide around a corner, but I could never muster enough of a kick to pass. Around lap 5, I swung wide again, and he did too - we were both coming up QUICK on 3rd place. We went 3-wide, and coach and I passed the kid. We were now third and fourth. But place really didn't matter here; I was just running for time.

Third 400: 1:14. "Only gave up 1 second! I THINK I have this PR! SUCK IT UP AND GO!" Not to sound stupid, but this is where it comes down to guts. I have plenty of endurance training in me, so I knew I just needed to "hold on to the hurt." Near the start of the last lap, coach and I made a move on 2nd place. I heard my name over the PA system - it was Gary saying "...and there's Steve Stenzel moving up in his last lap!!....." Coach and I moved into 2nd and 3rd.

We hit the homestretch, and I was just going as hard as I could. I heard someone coming up behind me and breathing down my neck - I didn't care how I placed, so I COULD give up my position, but I used the guy behind me to push for better time. I hit the finish pooped, and still in 3rd.

Fourth 400: 1:11. "Shoot. Just a LITTLE too much left for that final kick - could have gone a bit harder in the 3rd 400."

My watch read 4:53.XX. I walked up to the timing table to get my official time knowing that I could be a little off. Josh (the timer) showed me a list of names:

SWEET! 4:53.01!! Officially a PR by 1.59 seconds!

1 mile: 4:53.01
3rd of 29 overall
2nd of 5 in the 19-34 "open" age group

Uhhh, look at that screen grab of the results above. That was one of the OLD GUYS chasing me down! He was just 26 hundredths of a second behind me! There were 3 of us (2nd-4th) within 0.71 seconds.

Josh has a great new timing system that has a camera set up across the finish line. It's "super official," and it allows him to drag a line up to the body of all of the finishers on his computer, and it will instantly record their exact times down to the hundredth of a second. Here's a photo from when I was lurking over his shoulder and watching people finish:

I bring this up because I actually found out that he puts the photos online on his timing website! Here's the photo from my heat:

And here's a crop in on me finishing while hitting my watch:

Awkward. Awesome.

It's sweet to have such official timing (with the sensor on the starting gun and the photo finish) on a cheap $19 track meet. One of the many reasons I like Charities Challenge races! (There are 3 more indoor track meets this winter if you're interested.)

Here are a few more photos I took throughout the meet:

Another wave of the mile starting

Mile in progress (the girl to the left is about to break 6)

2 guys about to finish the 200 in just over 24 seconds

Lined up in the alleys to start the 800

Jeanne holding up lap numbers in the 800

Another heat of the 800
(with the "old guy" who nearly beat me in the mile to the far left)

Yet another 800 heat

I watched the first few heats of the final race (the 400) go off, and then I headed home. The winner finished in 53 seconds! But this meet is for everyone - last place in the 400 finished in over 2 minutes. And in the mile, the times ranged from 4:45 to 9:15.

Anyway, that's all for now. I'm THINKING about 1 more indoor meet this winter. The next Charities Challenge meet is Jan 2nd, but I might not be able to make it (unsure about that yet). There's also the Meet of the Miles (which is an MDRA race) on January 10th. A few friends have expressed interest in doing a race with me, so we'll see what happens in the next few weeks!

Back with some photos from Gary (from Charities Challenge) when I see them! Happy winter!


kT 6:13 AM, December 21, 2010  

Those pictures are so good, I can almost smell the Ben-Gay. (That might only make sense to people who ran indoor track in the 80's.) Nice race!

Anonymous,  7:25 AM, December 21, 2010  

Cool pictures! Just seeing the speed in the photos makes me queasy... track stuff makes me weak in the knees!

Sun Runner 8:05 AM, December 21, 2010  

Nice job with the new mile PR!

To really blow your mind...imagine running an entire marathon at that pace.

Christi 8:14 AM, December 21, 2010  

Congratulations Steve!

CoachGaryWestlund 8:36 AM, December 21, 2010  

Superior report and photos from our Challenge Courage Indoor Track Races, Steve.

I's still editing nearly 1200 photos from the races and will post the show by tomorrow, I hope.

Robin's comment above afforded me a good laugh. Thanks, Robin, for the imagined "queasy...weak in the knees". That's a big reason so many runners are reluctant to get on track. Come anytime and find out it's all the more fun because of the excitement and thrills. And, keep laughing, too.

SteveQ 10:32 AM, December 21, 2010  

Congrats! The guy who didn't break 8 seconds in the 60? That's Don Dornfeld. He's 67 years old. Think you'll break 8 at that age?

And thanks for pointing out that it was an "old guy" who nearly nipped you at the wire. It's his (Paul's) records I'm chasing at the moment. [Get off my lawn! Oops, I'm not quite that old yet.]

kristen 6:38 PM, December 22, 2010  

If it was a front shot- that finish line pick DEFINITELY would have been a pirate leg watch shot. Well done!

Adrienne 4:29 PM, December 24, 2010  

that is sweet! nice job... I like the photo finishes.

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