Thursday, April 25, 2019

Grand Blue Mile 2019


Ever heard the phrase "Double or Nothing?"

Although I'm not the one who authored it, I'm definitely a believer in the concept.

Such was the case with the Bulldog Double. Having just run the half marathon (recap) three days prior, The Grand Blue Mile was the finale of not only the 2019 Bulldog Double, but also my Spring 2019 racing roster.

For those who are wondering, the Bulldog Double is a challenge presented to all participants in the Drake Road Races. Affiliated with the Drake Relays, the Road Races are a series of events that kick off the week leading up to the Relays themselves. There are 5K, 10K and half marathon options, and all took place on Saturday, April 20th. Three days later, on the Tuesday evening of Relay Week, the Grand Blue Mile takes place - a very fast and flat (and somewhat furious) race through the downtown streets of Des Moines. Those who complete one of the races on the weekend prior AND also run the Grand Blue Mile, are awarded the Bulldog Double medal.
ready for the start line
The Grand Blue Mile takes place in the evening, with 6:15 p.m. as the designated start time for the Recreational Division. This division, essentially, is for everyone...young, old, runners, and walkers. There are also Women's and Men's Competitive Division races, but those take place a short while  later (though their finish times are combined with those of the Recreational Division). A fun event to watch is the Mascot Madness Charity Challenge, where "celebrity" characters from around the state are invited to compete in a short race (collegiate mascots, etc.). The final two events are the USATF 1-Mile Road Championship races for men and women, vying for $30,000 in total payouts for the top finishers.

Anyways, I opted for the Recreational Division, though in hindsight, I should have done Competitive Division (recommended for those who can run a sub-8:00 mile). The course only has two left turns, just after the halfway mark and just before the 3/4-mile mark.

As I have said numerous times, my "pace perception" is pathetic. I have a hard time reading my watch while in motion (especially if I'm trying to run faster than usual). Also, I'm so horribly uncoordinated, attempting to hold up my arm (on the off chance I could actually decipher the stats on  the Garmin) while trying to maintain my balance (in a herd of other fast-moving peeps) is just a recipe for a face plant. So I don't bother. I try to gauge my pace based on feel...which is a total crap shoot for a race such as this.  

That said, the start line was clustered with numerous kids...most in groups without very many adults. The horn sounded and we all took off, and the crowded herd of runners was tough to navigate. No matter how fast one tries to go, it's almost impossible to make it happen.

Having run this race last year (placing 3rd in a field of 74 for my AG), I was hoping to run the course faster this year. I've had a decent Spring, with all kinds of fast-for-me finish times...I couldn't help wondering if I could pull off a fast-for-me mile as well.

Immediately, right out of the gate, I felt SOOO thirsty. I didn't necessarily feel like I was sprinting, but I definitely was going pretty fast. I had to weave around a few random kids (as well as adults). Fortunately, the mass of runners kind of spread out after the first 1/4 mile.

The first stretch of the race is the longest, since we have to run past the halfway mark before turning. I vaguely remember passing the halfway sign, and saw a clock above it with 3:xx displayed, indicating I was well under my time to beat (2018's finish time of 7:53). 

I made it around the first turn alright, but was starting to feel a little light-headed...and still so thirsty. My throat had never felt so dry! The second (and final) turn was a city block away...and that went well, too. 
        

I couldn't yet see the finish line in the distance, but caught a glimpse of the approaching 3/4 mile mark. It felt like my body was trying to slow down...my hamstrings were on fire, my lungs were about to explode...and, did I mention my throat was about to crack in half? Honestly, I had NEVER felt so parched, ever.

Finally, I spotted the finish line. I usually can kick it into high gear, but I didn't know if it would be enough. I was feeling so depleted of everything, truly feeling like I had slowed way down. 

I hadn't glanced at my watch once during the entire race, so imagine my surprise when I saw 7:2x on the clock above the finish line! When I stopped and caught my breath...and saw the 7:26 on my watch, I was dumbfounded. And in disbelief.  
just past the finish line...totally out of breath
I immediately grabbed a Gatorade. I felt like I was in a fog because my body was so worn out. I guess that's what is meant by leaving it all out on the course (thankfully, I never felt nauseous...not sure I cold ever bring myself to that extreme LOL). I walked a bit further, and was handed my Bulldog Double medal (all Bulldog Double participants had yellow-colored bibs).

The Drake University mascot is the bulldog. Every year, for the Drake Relays, they crown a King Bulldog, and the 2019 King was there, near the finish line.
Griff, the 2019 King Bulldog...isn't he a charmer?
I later learned that my official finish time was actually 7:23! Ummm, that's a 30-second PR (and a 4th place AG). What the WHAT????

To say this race took my breath away would be quite the (literal) understatement. It took several minutes to get my breathing back under control, and I had a very dry cough for several hours later. This really was quite an exhilarating experience, though.

To give you some perspective, the USATF 1-Mile male champion ran it in 4:04.21, and the female champion clocked a 4:30.09, which was a new event record. So don't be too impressed with my fast 7:23 (LOL).

Yes, I did drive almost an hour away to run a 1-mile race (and so did a lot of other people). They have an early-bird (2-day) promo where you can register for $10, so I took advantage of that. Most 5K races are $25-$30, anyways, so this is within that range when you break it down to cost per mile (at least that's what I'm telling myself).

The Bulldog Double is a neat challenge, especially considering the fun medal (and t-shirt) that comes with it. And, let's not forget several of the participants ALSO raced a few days prior.

A few final thoughts:
**Although this may be "just a mile" in distance, it's a very challenging distance to race. It's 5,280 feet of heavy breathing, a majorly dry throat (with no time to stop for water) and a lot of work for one's legs. Trying to run hard for an entire mile is much harder than a lap around a track, even with a 1-mile warm-up before the race.
**For a tall gal with asymmetrical legs (my knees turn inward, but at different angles), running fast is very awkward. It's not a pretty sight. I've seen myself on video (ugh) and you've seen the pics. I'll just leave it at that.
**There's probably a setting on my Garmin for 1/4-mile splits,  but I have no idea how to access it. I'd be curious to see the breakdown, because each 1/4-mile felt very different but they all felt hard.
**Although I'm not slow, I don't consider myself an especially fast runner. My genetics didn't bless me with natural speed, agility or grace. That said, this was a major PR for me. It's great knowing I could sub-7:25 a mile, but I also know I could not have held that pace much further. I'm alright with that...I'm an endurance junkie anyways. Glass half full!

from 2018...official time was 7:53, 3rd in AG (of 74)

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from this year...official time of 7:23, 4th in AG (of 73)
So, there you have it... the down and dirty, nitty gritty details of a 1-mile race. 

Have you ever done a 1-mile race? If not, would you ever consider doing one? Have you ever run so fast and hard that your throat hurt? 

I'm linking this with Meranda and Lacey for the Friday with Fairytales and Fitness link-up. 

 
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22 comments:

  1. That is pretty impressive Kim! You really pushed yourself and it paid off. Enjoy a little rest this week. I often have o idea what my pace is but it's usually slower than I think!

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    1. Thanks, Deborah ;-) Honestly, my pace perception is so jacked LOL I felt like I was running this race slow, but turns out the opposite. Then there are times when I feel like I'm flying, only to see a slower-than-expected finish time. I can't stand monitoring my pace via my Garmin, so I just go with how I feel...

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  2. Good job lady!! That's so awesome!! It's always nice when it's a surprise PR!!

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    1. Thanks, Amy! This PR totally surprised me, so it was pretty sweet ;-)

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  3. Back when Becky was coaching me and I was training for a marathon, she had me do mile repeats x5. I had to run them all fast and at the same pace. It was great training for something like this! I love to run fast and that was a lot of fun.

    Congrats!

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    1. I like the challenge of running fast, but it feels SOOO awkward for me.

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  4. Obviously I would consider doing a 1 mile race. It's really to bad there's a turn -- you'd be even speedier without it!

    I must say though, I do wish you would own the fact that you ARE fast. No, you're not an elite, but then obviously most of us aren't. Most of us also can't sub 8 a mile, even for "just" a mile. I know pretty much how you'll reply, but I had to throw it out there.

    Great job & bask in that PR!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Judy ;-) I am very happy and proud of this mile conquest, but I'm also leery of being too boastful about it. What's fast for me is "easy" for some others, and we all have good days on the race course when things fall into place. That said, it does feel good to be able to pull off a fast finish time...if my mean gym teachers from childhood could see me now LOL

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  5. Wow! What a speedy mile! Way to go! I have never done a one-mile race before, but now I want to. Congrats on the PR.

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    1. That mile is a beast! Having never trained specifically for that particular distance, it was a gamble. I'm always fearful of going out too fast and crashing too soon, but also don't want to be too conservative and regret not pushing harder. And a mile is such a short distance, there's not much leeway to fix things LOL

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  6. Awesome Job Kim! I am surprised a time like that in the mile didn't earn you a top 3 placement!

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    1. Well, my race last year, I ran it 30 seconds slower and got 3rd place, so it's all contingent on who else shows up at the start line. The same gal got first place, though, both years.

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  7. Love this recap! Back in my 20's when I was living in NY, I did the 5th Avenue Mile one year. I had no idea what to expect or how to pace myself. Plugging my recent 5K race time into a pace calculator told me 7:20, I wound up doing 7:23. Still my mile PR to this day. :) BUT...at 1/4 mile I was completely DYING. I looked at my watch (just a good ol' stopwatch back then) and it was at 1:30...I was running a 6 mil/miler pace! Crazy! Needless to say, I couldn't keep it up and wound up slowing down quite a bit to end up at 7:23.

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    1. I ran this race last year, but still drastically underestimated how tough it would be. Of course, with all of my racing this spring, my body wanted to run faster/harder...and I, too, felt like I was DYING at the 1/4 mile mark LOL

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  8. Lady, that is impressive!!! I think I can run that pace for about 15 seconds!
    Sprint legs are not my thing, and that is OK!!
    That bulldog is precious!

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    1. Even with all of my racing this spring, I still had no idea what to do in terms of pacing for this. It's such a short distance, it's tough to know how fast is "too fast" right outta the gate...

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  9. I'd be all about that Mascot race. When I went to the Pro Bowl a few years ago I swear te mascot shenanigans was my favorite part.
    Congratulations on an amazing race. Sudden thirst is so weird. That happened to me on the way this morning.

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    1. The mascot race was hilarious! Most of them are in full head gear with awkward "feet." The Drake bulldog won, but my Iowa Hawkeye (Herky) came in second!

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  10. Amazing work: wow! Well done you! And I love the medal and real-life mascot!

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    1. Isn't Griff a cutie? I'm amazed how calm he was in the midst of all the breathless people!

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  11. Say what you want Kim but I say you are one fast runner! Congrats on your PR! I think it would be so fun to try a 1-mile race.

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  12. Wow! That is amazing...a 30 second PR!! Congratulations Kim, you are a speedy and dedicated runner!!

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