Boston 2011

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's a Sprint, Not a Marathon

Jan 2nd, 2011 - Like the old adage says, the marathon is a marathon, not a sprint, but sometimes you just have to sharpen your elbows, throw yourself onto the track, and find out what you have.

I've been doing winter track all season with GLRR and was curious to see if it was paying off (I had no doubt it was, but I wanted a reason to go down to the BU mini-meet and run the mile).

This was the third and final session of the meet at the amazing BU track facilities. The track is 200 meters around, with a very bouncy surface and two very banked bookends. The event itself is very well organized with the organizers moving the races along like clockwork, except for the occasional 20 minute delay.

The plan was to meet up with Frank Georges and Mike Shanahan and run in the same heat, in the hopes of breaking the 5 minute mile barrier together.

My personal best mile on a course not named Millennium is 5:07. That was on an outdoor track on a warm day back in June. I was hoping to at least top that today since I would be running with a pack of fellow runners averaging about the same pace as me. I had put myself down to run a 4:58, so I ended up in the 5th heat where the projected times ranged from the low 4:50's to the low 5's.

Disclaimer: I had never run an indoor track race (or any track race) before today, but I figured a track is a track is a track. Same thing for the race part too. Boy was I wrong.

Frank (SRR), Mike (GBTC - what's up with that Mike?), and eleven others lined up with me when our heat was called to the line. I found myself positioned in the middle of the line with Mike to my left and a bunch of sharp elbows to my right. Frank was a row behind and positioned on the inside practically alone. Frank had ran the mile last weekend (5:02), so I think he learned something from that experience, which he wasn't sharing with me.

I knew I was in trouble the moment the gun went off and I got a quick left jab to the chest by a few runners sprinting to the front and battling for pole position. Ouch! This is running! Not UFC 125!

I quickly fell behind the pack while trying to get into a rhythm and my bearings on the inside lane. I nearly ended my indoor track career around the first banked turn when I could barely control myself on the unfamiliar surface and angle of the bank. I seriously don't know how I managed to stay upright and continue on. (My parents were in the stands and my mom later told me that she thought I was going to tumble too!)

Mike was about a second in front of me through the first lap and I just focused on him since I knew he was going to try for 4:55. Frank was behind me, but right on my tail.

The second lap was just as adventurous as the first. Still congested with everyone in my heat running about the same pace, Frank decided to make the first of many surges, and went ahead of me before the start of the 3rd lap. I was nearly dead last at this point.

My legs felt fine considering I ran 26 miles the day earlier, and my breathing was under control, but my mind was like, WTF am I doing here?! Get me back on the road with the nice people!

I finally gained some composure and breathing room on the 3rd and 4th lap, but to my disappointment, I hit the halfway point in 2:35. I was still lagging behind the main pack and was second to last through the 5th lap. Frank was still ahead of me, as was Mike. It looked like we all knew we were not going to break 5 without some move or miracle.

I opted for the move.

I made my surge down the back end of the 6th lap and started picking off the pack. I reeled in Frank, but Mike was still motoring ahead of me. I managed a few more scalps on the 7th lap, putting me in about 11th place when I heard the bell for the final lap. I just gotta say, hearing that familiar sound is f'n awesome during a race! DING! DING! DING! DING!

The clock read 4:27 as I started the 8th and final lap. Stupid me was still on Lexington track time, so I thought I had the sub 5 in the bag, since it only takes me about 30 seconds to do a good lap at the Rat Dome. Unfortunately, the Rat Dome is not a 200 meter track. It was taking me 35+ seconds to do a good lap today. 4:27 + 35 = S.O.L.

Oh well, ignorance is bliss.

Thinking it was going to be close I dug deep and made my final surge. I passed another five individuals before the final turn, including GBTC Mike. I fought hard for 4th place at the finish, but had to settle for 5th and a time of 5:03.61. DAMN!

I felt like I gave it my all, so I have no complaints about this race.

I learned a few lessons today including the fact that track runners would eat their first born if it meant winning. It was actually thrilling to take part in something so competitive and cut-throat.

I'll just have to remember to bring my prison shank next time out.

(It was an accident, I swear)

FYI, for those still following my now defunct 365 Day blog, the "5K Every Day" streak died today. And since you're still following that blog, let me know if it ever gets updated again.


Alberto said...

Hi Jason:

I was following your 2010 blog and I saw about those runs on Saturdays. I am looking for a group to run on Saturdays, do I need to become a member of GLRR to run with your group?


Jason Bui said...

Alberto, most definitely not! The only requirement is that you are breathing (but we make exceptions for that too).

Our group runs on Saturday morning in Lowell are actually on hiatus for about 8 weeks as we kick off the GLRR Fudgcicle series in Tewksbury. This is basically the group run, but in a different location.

You just have to make a $1 donation at the start of the run, which starts at Tewksbury High School at 8AM beginning this Saturday (the 8th)

Are you from the area?

Contact me at to followup.

Hope to see you out there!

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