Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Draper Mile: Downhill in 5:47

photo by Frank Locascio Sr. via Runabout Sports

On Friday night I ran the 35th Annual Draper Mile, put on by Runabout Sports, for just my second time. It's held in conjunction with our annual two-day community craft/vendor/eating/music festival called Steppin' Out. I had often opted out of this local race because I didn't want to needlessly risk injury the week before USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals. But I've mellowed...and it had just been too long since I had raced anything (July 4 to be exact). So the day before the race, I signed up.

It's a cool race because (1) it's a straight shot down one of our town's most historic and picturesque roads (2) it's downhill and the FASTest road mile you'll probably run (3) you finish down a vendor-lined street and into the heart of the festival and (4) there is tremendous local crowd support. It's just really fun!

the route

The elevation profile

This year they had a men's elite wave (6:00 or faster), followed by the women's elite (7:00 or faster) and then the open division. I'd run a 5:43 in 2014 so I took advantage of the rare opportunity to be categorized as an "elite!!"

The decision to race was rather spontaneous and since I'd had a pretty hard run the day before with working intervals and a threshold-type mile, my legs were a little sore, which I took to mean READY!

Of the 29 runners in the women's elite division, half (15) were under the age of 18.
I was the second oldest.

As we stood waiting for the gun, we heard some distant rumblings of thunder and a gentle rain began to fall. We took off and my mindset was to go hard, but carefully, knowing that painted areas of the road and speedbumps could be slick.

It's crazy trying to pace a mile. I really just didn't. My goal was to try to hang behind/keep up with my friend Marcia who I know to be particularly strong on shorter distances. I quickly reached what felt like a neuromuscular limit of how fast I could make my legs turn over. I was a little worried my legs might buckle!! My average cadence was just 95 though, not all that super high, but it felt like a Roadrunner-level turnover!!

Marcia ahead of me on the left. I am grimacing!
photo by Frank Locascio Sr. via Runabout Sports

With such a short intense race, the brain becomes hyper-focused. There is NO room for other thoughts like the ones that can creep in on even a 5K. It's a VERY COOL other-worldly feeling to think of nothing but legs, breathing, form, and motion.

I finished 10th with a time of 00:05:47.5 - just four seconds slower than two years prior [Full Results here] The fastest time on the male side was 4:04.5 by Patrick Woodford, and Oliva Beckner (age 16!) was the fastest woman at 5:04.8. Crazy fast!!!

After I finished, I found a spot along the course to watch the runners of the open wave. I looked across the race chute and saw my Coach and his wife, who had watched their son and daughter come through with the elite waves. Watching the families and kids come down Draper Road, I thought about how fortunate we are to live in a community that is so supportive of running that a one-mile race is an integral part of our community festival...for 35 years running!