Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Race Result: 2012 Treadmill 1 Mile World Championship

Event: Treadmill 1 Mile World Championship
Location: Gear West Ski & Run in Long Lake, MN
Weather: Indoors
Goal: under 5:20
Actual: 5:19.7
Overall: 8th (15 total)
Age Group (50-59): 2nd (3 total)
Age Grade: 79.6 (2nd out of 15)
Results Link: preliminary results
Previous Results: First time at this event

"The art of running the mile consists, in essence, of reaching the threshold of unconsciousness at the instant of breasting the tape." Paul O'Neil

Jim Ryun, enough said
This unique event was held over Friday & Saturday (March 2-3th, 2012). There was even a New Balance Age-Graded Challenge. I started looking for age-graded events in 2011 and was successful running those, so that is what really brought me to the race. The Treadmill World Championships, along with New Balance, offered a FREE pair of New Balance running shoes to the winner of the Age-Graded Challenge. The AG Calculator is found HERE.

The AG calculator is intended to provide you with an age-graded race time and an achievement percentile for a recent performance at a specific race distance. Age-graded information allows you to: Judge your performance, using an achievement percentile, without bias for gender or the aging process (in other words, you are measured against a specific standard for your age and sex). These percentiles can be interpreted as follows:
  • Over 90% --- World Class
  • Over 80% --- National Class
  • Over 70% --- Regional Class
  • Over 60% --- Local Class
My goal of going under 5:20 was to try and achieve a 80% (National Class) ranking. My 5:19 equated to a age grade of 79.6 which means had I been in my 'prime' I would have run a 4:39 mile. So, I fell just short of National Class ranking. If I want to be picky, I could calculate my age as 50.88 (I turn 51 in April) and with that factored in my ranking comes out to 80.35 and a 4:37 mile. So I have that personal satisfaction, if you will.

My lone mistake was not factoring in the time it took for the treadmill to get up to speed. I had calculated that if I ran with the treadmill speed set to 11.3 that would equate to a 5:18 mile. I probably lost those very few valuable seconds during the time I started and the treadmill actually was running at that speed. In retrospect, I should have started out at the speed of 11.4 for the first 1/4 mile and then cut back to 11.3. But in some ways I am glad I didn't, since I was running on empty at the end.

Let's talk fuel for a moment. Since my slotted time was 1:30 PM on Saturday, I followed this menu:

Breakfast (6 hours before) -
  • Single slice of toast with Nutella and honey
  • Serving of yogurt with blueberries, blackberries, honey and Chia seeds (1 tsp)
  • Serving of Interphase protein mix with low-fat milk
  • 2 cups of half-decaffeinated coffee
Lunch (2 1/2 hours before) -
I was introduced to Interphase and Carbo-Pro by Kevin O'Connor last race season and I have used these two products exclusively ever since. Kevin was 2009 USAT Duathlete of the Year and just received a honorable mention for the 2011 USA Triathlon Masters Duathlete of the Year.

When I arrived at Gear West Ski & Run I opted to warm up inside on one of the treadmills since there were some empty ones available. Much better than warming up outside as we received some rain and sleet recently and the streets are a bit slippery to say the least.

I ran comfy for about five minutes and then broke into a series of striders, increasing up to my race pace goal. My timer was Derek 'Rusty' Lindstrom and he became a valuable ally. He spoke to me about the first half seeming easy and once 0.6 miles came around the real work would set in.

The rules were easy. We would set the speed, hit enter and go. During this time I could not hold onto any part of the treadmill or I would be DQ'd. I would be allowed to alter the speed during the event. Little did I know I would not have the energy to even make that effort of changing speeds.

Derek was correct, the first part of the race was pretty smooth. There was a 1/4-mile lap indicator on the treadmill face and I was surprised how quickly the first 1/2-mile went. I was hearing things like, "You are looking smooth,"...."Looking strong,"...."Time for some cow bell."

On that third lap the legs were beginning to falter. This is what scared me about racing this kind of speed on the treadmill. One misstep, one ill-timed catch of the toe on the churning treadmill and I would have gone down hard and flying off the back end. It was probably this fear that also saved me.

For on the last lap, a mere 1/4 mile to go, I was toast. In my mind I was thinking, "Its only a 1/4 mile, you can gut this out". But my legs were telling me that they were in severe danger of faltering badly. I was starting to waver a bit. I was making these audible grunting noises. My form had gone from smooth to shot-to-hell. At 0.8 miles, I kept envisioning that was nothing more than two blocks. I was running those two blocks back to my house. That's all it was. Just hold pace.

At 0.85 miles I was looking at lowering the speed control. At this point had this been a road race I would have let up. There is no doubt in my mind. Now I'm thinking I need to slow down the speed of the treadmill otherwise I'm going to stumble.

At 0.9 miles, the legs have nothing left. At 0.95 miles I have serious doubts I'm going to make it. Derek is yelling in my ear. 0.97. My arms are doing some sort of movement that I'm not familiar with. 0.98, yes, I can do it. 0.99, why is the treadmill stuck on 0.99? Why is it not moving? I cannot hold on another second. 1.00, I "Hey, hey, him" from the people watching. I somehow step to the side without falling. Upper body hanging on the treadmill and head down. Holy crap.

And yet, here's the deal. I ran a 5:19 mile and am rather proud of that at the age of 50. But the boys who just made the USA Olympic marathon team averaged 4:55 per mile. Perspective can be a wicked sock to the stomach sometimes.

My hats off to those who competed as those are great times. Thanks to Gear West Ski & Run for hosting the event.

Next Event:

March 10 - Becker Community Center Chase a Leprechaun 5K Fun Run/Walk

1 comment:

William Misner said...

I found something funny/odd but not so funny today at where I ran for Derek's Treadmill mile event last March...I could not understand why it was so hard to run a fast mile on a treadmill, but today I found out...they were not calibrated!

I noticed that theei Precor model was so much easier to run faster on than the Life Fitness model. It was the Life Fitness model that I set a record on and won the World Mile Treadmill Championship event in my age group and place 3rd overall based on age-graded time.

Today I learned something astonishing. I remember having so much difficulty running as fast as I run outdoors.

How could I run so fast outside but be so much slow inside?

Tom De Hart, my PT assisted by witnessing my mile run set @ 9.2 MPH, but the digital read out said 6:32.00 to reach 1-mile. That event in March was my hardest suffer-fest mile of all time. Turns out there was a very good reason why this mile run was so difficult; the treadmill was not calibrated correctly. The belt was running way too-much faster than the digital MPH read out setting. A 6:32.00 mile is 9.2 MPH, but the Life Fitness model I ran the mile on last March when set at 9.2 MPH was actually spinning the belt at 14.06 MPH. This same Life Fitness Treadmill recalibrated [today] at 9.2 MPH shows a 191.5” belt rotates 76-revolutions or 1212.8-feet per minute. At that rate within 4:15.9 a mile was finished on the moving belt, NOT 6:32.00!!

I actually ran a treadmill mile in 4:15.9; this age-grades to 3:02.6 mile male open division...

"Are you kidding me!" nope.......that is why it was so hard!