Thursday, January 15, 2009

Breaking the Six Minute Mile....

I know it's nowhere near the fastest anyone has run a mile, but........yesterday, for the first time in my life, I broke a six minute mile. Shattered it. Smashed that silly number six, coming in TWELVE seconds under it, at 5 minutes, 48 seconds.

I have been after that for about six years. So I would like to write about it a little.

Yesterday Jen and I did our fitness test to prepare to do a new round of "the Project" with our Yoga instructor (and dear dear friend) Chris Roche. Being tested for body fat %, flexibiltiy, how many push-ups you can do in one set without coming out of the push up position, and how many sit ups you can do in a minute are the first part of the test. The last part: Run a mile as fast as you can.

When I tested for the first round of the project, I ran a mile in 6:22. And that frustrated me. I knew I could do better. When we tested at the finish of the project, I ran a 6:14. Cutting eight seconds off a fast mile is a cool thing, but I was a little bummed that I wasn't nearer to an even 6.

Six years ago I ran my fasted mile to date, a 6:05.

After running the 6:14, I started to wonder if my time in life had past to break six minutes. Yesterday I answered that question with a resounding "NO WAY!!"

A couple of things that helped me:

1) I was running on an indoor track. Somehow I run faster indoors. I don't know why, but I feel like I can fly inside! Outside I think I get overwhelmed by the stimulous. Inside it's all about the running.

2) I told myself, "No matter how bad you feel, it will be over in six or so minutes! I knew I could deal with intense discomfort for that long.

3) My wife, Jen, was with me. She kept time on the sidelines and her cheering me on was a great help and grounding factor. Originally we were just going to run at the same time, but I am so glad we decided to time each other. She, by the way, ran what I think was her fastest mile ever.....and 8:17!!! She says she thinks she can get in under 8 by the end of the project, and I think she is right.


-Like shit. Really.

Ok, it's seven laps for a mile at this track. I deduced that I must run 51 second laps to break six minutes. I ran my first lap in 44 seconds! I don't remember breathing for the entire lap. At the start of lap 2, I took a gasping breath and was worried I was going to stop. Lap two was all about trying to find some sort of rythm for the mile. I didn't really find it in lap 2, and finsihed that lap in around 45 seconds.

Good news: I am way ahead of my time! Bad news: There is NO WAY I can keep up this pace!!!

Lap Three: Reduce your gait! Breathe! Breathe deeper! NOW I have a form! But I have no idea if I have slowed my pace too much. I will find out when I check my watch at the end of the lap.....I check it and am still in really good shape, finishing lap three in 2:22.

Lap Four: My lungs begin to hurt. I am getting a little light-headed. I feel like I am slowing down (and probably am). My legs begin to burn halfway through the lap. If I can finish this lap, I will be more than halfway home. Don't look at your watch, just keep going!

Lap Five: BREATHE remember your routine. Eyes out in front, arms pump FORWARD. Torso moves forward, not up and down. Start to lengthen you gait can do it for TWO MORE LAPS!!! Still light headed.

-at the end of this lap I check my time and see that I have a good shot at this. Now....

Lap Six: KEEP YOUR FORM. Now it's not so much about speed. You chopped off enough time with those first two insane laps. Now it's about maintaining. Holding on. YOU CAN DO TWO OF ANYTHING!!!!!

Lap Seven: Two of the most predominant things that crossed my mind: You could so easily trip and fall......or you could just stop! But in the back of my head, I knew I had the time with a lap to go. All I had to do now was finish. Which I did......

After I crossed the finish line, Jen threw her arms up and cried a bit, as did I, after pumping my fist a few times.

I was amazed that I got twelve seconds under six minutes! But as big a number as that seems, it is wild to think that if I had run each of those laps just two seconds slower, I would not have made my record.

And it is even more daunting to think, that my best time ever, one that I may never beat, or even want to TRY to beat, is FORTY SECONDS SLOWER than the average mile time run by last years half marathon winner.

But I am not racing that man, I am keeping THIS man honest. Finding MY edge. Except I must say that in order to break this mark, I think I pushed myself beyond a healthy edge. And that's okay for today, but it can't be the norm.

But it is so cool to have known what that felt like.

At least for six minutes (minus twleve seconds, that is) I felt a little of what it must feel like to run so you'll win the mini.......

But from now on, I'm cool with just winning my own personal race.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Dear Flash,

Awesome, awesome, awesome. I am soooo insanely proud of you. Thanks for sharing your experience, lap-by-lap. My only wish is that I could have been there to shed a few tears and do a few fist pumps with you guys.

Way to go, Rob!