With the 2020 racing season canceled thanks to the dumb Covid-19 Coronavirus, I was left with a big hole where my Ironman training and race was. What to do, what to do? I thought about it for a little while and realized that I didn’t want to keep training for an Ironman that wasn’t going to happen and that I should probably dial it back some and maybe use this year as sort of a recovery from the heavy training I had been doing the past couple of years. Yeah… not going to happen.
Back in June I did something during my training that sparked an interest in me. I work in law enforcement in a part-time, non-sworn support position, and I joined my department for the annual Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics. I rode my bike about eight miles to get there that afternoon, ran the two miles with some coworkers to satisfy the event, and then for kicks I decided to see how fast I could run a mile. I did it in 6:35. And I thought, could I possibly run a sub-6 minute mile? At age 56 and change? It was definitely something I began to think about.
A month later, right after the race got canceled, I texted my Gunner teammates and advised them that I was deferring my Ironman to Chattanooga in 2021 and that I was not going to follow the training plan for the rest of the year. I also advised that I was going to shoot for the sub-6 minute mile.
Johnny replied with this:
Okay, now the game is ON! Actually, I’m not sure if John was laughing at my super long text about what I was doing, or that I had declared that I was attempting another stupid goal. John knows me well and knows that I will obsess over something that no normal person would do – the running streak that turned into 3+ years is a good example. That’s probably it. But whatever, I’m going for it!
In addition to the first time trial mile, I’m going to try to do at least one one-mile time trial per week. I will still do my typical three bikes a week and run on alternating days. I am going to add some speed sessions to my run workouts and probably run some hill repeats as well. My Ironman training plan had some intervals and repeats in them, but I want to focus a little more on shorter and harder efforts.
I’m starting this in mid-July, and it’s been hot and humid lately. I hope to see improvement throughout the next month, but I will probably need a very good weather day for my attempt. I’m also looking to scope out the best location to do the mile. A slight descent on a straight, uninterrupted portion of the trail might be a good option. I considered doing it on the track, but my son Ben said that GPS doesn’t work very well on the track if I want to use that as my official certifying distance and time. I do want proof. The last time I attempted a mile personal best was when I was in my late twenties, on an indoor track at Highland Park, IL High School. Ten laps around the small indoor track was a mile and I spent a few weeks working my way down to a 5:29 minute personal best. It was just me and the track and my Timex back then, so not all that official. I’m also thinking of having Ben pace me on my serious attempts. He’s game and that’s no problem for the kid.
Below is a short journal of my recent attempts:
JUNE 11, 2020 – The Mile That Woke Me Up
- TIME: 6:35.2
- WHERE: New Lenox Commons, approximately 1/3 mile loops
- WEATHER: Sunny, windy, warm and humid, midday
- LEAD UP: I biked to get there, ran an easy two-mile warm-up, then did the mile
- COMMENTS: The loop has an incline and decline and it was a little windy that day
JULY 19, 2020 – The First Attempt
- TIME: 6:32.1
- WHERE: LINCOLN-WAY CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL TRACK
- WEATHER: Mid-70’s but very warm and humid following a day-long storm
- LEAD-UP: I jogged a three-mile warm-up to get there and that was probably one mile too many.
- COMMENTS: I strained my back earlier in the day and was having a little discomfort with that, but I still ran as hard as I could. The track definitely felt warmer than when I was running in the shade on the trail to get there. I was forced to use lane 4 as my lane as lanes 1, 2, and 3 were flooded out from the storm in one turn from the earlier rain. Ben was right when he said that GPS may not record me very accurately on the track.
Here are the links to the attempt updates: