2 Races & 2 Records- Arkansas Runner 2 Mile & Go! Mile 2019

2 Races & 2 Records- Arkansas Runner 2 Mile & Go! Mile 2019

This masters series quest has taught me a lot these past 6 months. It’s been challenging, fun, and extremely motivating. When you’re chasing state records there are a few things to consider: 1.) Races need to be in state and certified. 2.) There are some race distances you only get one or two shots at a year. There are plenty of 5k’s and 10ks, half and full marathons but some of the distances are few and far between. When I prepared for the River Trail 15k in in February I knew if I didn’t get the time I needed I’d have to wait another full year to try again. (Fortunately I made it!) It definitely adds a layer of pressure!

Originally I planned on racing the Chase Race 2 Mile in March. It was where I had my current 2 mile PR. It’s hard to beat a flat course and cool winter temps. But this year I was sick and missed LRM and Chase Race due to the flu. I knew it would be much tougher to shoot for the record in June but I had to try. It’s hard to have two goal races only one week apart but I knew this was last shot at both for the year so I had to go for it. There are just not that many 2 or 1 mile certified races in the state.

The harder of the two race records to beat was going to be the 2 mile record. It was set in 2003 by Angie Herringer who ran a 11:39. That’s a fast Masters time so I had my work cut out for me. My 2 mile PR of all time was 11:32 which I ran at Chase Race in 2017.

Friday night I headed to Benton with 3 of my kids. We were going to spend the night at my sister’s house to help make for an easier race morning. The girls were going to watch my nephew and nieces so Tara could race and then the little ones were going to run in the kids one mile race after the 2 miler.

Arkansas Runner 2 Mile- June 8, 2019 (Benton, AR)

We arrived around 6:30 with plenty of time to pick up my bib, shirt and use the restroom. The community center is a great venue with plenty of parking and room to warm up.

Just before 7:30 I headed to the starting line. I found myself surrounded by a high school boys cross country team. My first through was to move back because I was sure they were faster but then I remembered I couldn’t. I needed to stay right on the starting line. There was no starting line mat so I didn’t want to waste any time reaching the start. I was fully prepared for this race to come down to seconds and I needed every one of them.

My coach sent me a solid race plan and I knew the course well. It was the same course from 2017 & 2018. My plan was to run 5:45-5:50 for the first mile and then pick it up on the second. I divided the race into 4 separate half mile segments.

When the gun went off I quickly found my rhythm and fell into 5:35-5:40 pace.

The first half mile is slightly downhill and the second half of the mile has a long incline which would slow down my time. I focused on getting up the hill and mile 1 beeped in at 5:43. This was my exact first mile split from last year. I could not run mile 2 as slow as I did last year though or I wouldn’t make it. Mile 2 last year was 5:46 and I finished in 11:41 (this course always measures a little long due to tangents). I was feeling good and I kept telling myself to push. My watch average was around 5:43 when we started the last quarter and it was time to bring it home. I just kept sprinting and took advantage of the long downhill last quarter mile. Mile 2 split was 5:39! I saw the finish line clock and I knew I made the time I needed for the record. Then I realized this was also a personal PR too!

11:30 Official Finish Time (1st OA Female)

This is probably the best executed race I’ve run in well over a year.  The last one may very well be the Little Rock Marathon in 2018. It’s hard to get pacing this right but I was focused and wanted it.  I cooled down a little but I don’t remember much else because I was THRILLED about the record and new PR.

The week between

The week leading up to the 2 Mile race was pretty low key and relaxing with all the kids at camp.  The week leading up to Go! Mile was more like most weeks- busy with something going on just about every day.  Monday night was our big Searcy Kids Track Night.  Tuesday I had a light speed workout and then I led a high school workout.  It was also a big work week with a late night event Thursday (I work with pre-occupational therapy students) and then another event Friday.  The good thing was that it distracted me from worrying too much about it.

The 2 Mile Race was definitely a huge confidence booster going into Go! Mile.  Six weeks before Go! Mile I ran in a local 1 mile race- the Wildcat Extra Mile. The course itself is faster than Go! Mile but it is not as competitive and I’m also the race director so I have a million other responsibilities to think of besides racing. When I ran the Wildcat Extra Mile in May I naively thought I could set the record without too much effort.  I was wrong.  The one mile masters state record was 5:37 set by my good friend Kem Thomas in 2015.  I did ok in the first half but it all fell apart in the second half.  I finished in 5:40 and felt like death. Having run a 5:39 second mile in the 2 mile race I was very confident I could take down the record and I was actually aiming for 5:20. The goal was 80 second quarters.  Anytime during the week I started to get anxious I just told myself “80.” I could run an 80. One quarter at a time.

Go! Mile- June 15, 2019 (Little Rock, AR)

I was a little more distracted before the 1 mile race.  My kids also run this race and their heat is always before mine. It’s always hard to go from mom mode to race mode. This year was no exception.  No one got lost this year and John was there to help (thank goodness!) but my whole warmup routine was kind of frazzled.

As I headed to the start I tried to relax and remind myself I could do this.  Why are 1 mile races so nerve wracking?!

Photo credit @ Chelsea Weaver Smith
Photo credit @ Chelsea Weaver Smith

When the gun went off I tried to find my rhythm but it wasn’t clicking.  I was too slow and my legs didn’t feel like they wanted to turnover.

Photo credit @ Chelsea Weaver Smith

What if I couldn’t do this? 80. I just kept repeating 80. I had set my watch up to beep at quarter splits which was very helpful. 1st quarter- 80 on the dot! Ok, better than I though (even though I would have loved to have been slightly faster). I had no time to spare. I focused on pushing to the half mile mark.

2nd quarter- 81. Now the real part of the race was beginning.  I was going to have to fight.  Most 1 mile races are lost during the 3rd quarter. It’s just so natural to slow down and I could not afford to slow down. Unfortunately I was boxed in behind 3 guys and it required some extra maneuvering to get around them.

I was fighting and moving up but even with my effort the 3rd quarter beeped at 85. I noticed I was catching a female in front of me and I still had a lot of energy so I started kicking.  I didn’t catch the female (she finished 2 seconds in front of me) but I put up a strong fight. I ran the last quarter in 75!

Official Finish Time- 5:23:82 (6th FOA/ 1st Masters)

Very thankful I was able to get the record time I needed. I was a little bummed I missed prize money by 2 seconds- so close!  (Top 5 won money and I came in 6th.). That 3rd quarter slowed me down but I know I shouldn’t say “what if.” A 5:23 is my fastest mile time in a few years and I am proud of it. The mile is a tough distance to race since there is so little room for error. I think mentally it was also tough to have two back to back races like this. So glad I was able to accomplish my time goal for both but after Go! Mile I am looking forward to at least 2 weekends off racing.

July 4th will be my first attempt at the 5k distance record.  This is the hardest one of all!  Time to regroup and get ready!

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