Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One last gasp

For some reason, I hadn't expected to do anything today; the last day of 2009. I'm back in Phoenix house sitting and with all my friends out of town, I thought I'd spend a quite night reading a book (A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce) and having a glass of wine or two. But noooooooo. Instead I ended up at a 3 mile run with a gun time of 10:30 PM.

Now, I realize there are lots of places on the planet where you just don't want to be out racing at 10:30 PM on December 31st; but it's fabulous running weather in Phoenix with the temperature around 45F (7C) at gun time. No wind, clear skies, lots of darkness and 500 of my closest friends. Where else should a runner be on New Year's Eve than with other runners?

I got in a good 2 mile warm up, took off my sweats and squeezed into the chute 10 yards back from the start line. After the gun went off, I spent 1/4 mile weaving in and out of the joggers who, for reasons that still escape me, insist on starting races up front. But after I broke free, I realized that I could still see the leaders up ahead and there weren't a whole lot of runners between me and them; at least a lot fewer than I've seen in other races this year. I was feeling good and the cool, moist air felt great; plus, I was passing 2 or 3 runners per minute and no one was passing me - this usually means I'm running too fast; but I just didn't care - I was having fun.

I never did see the 1 mile marker and it was too dark to read my watch anyway, but I really sensed that I was motoring along. I'd seen the 2 mile marker during my warm up so I could gauge my approximate position and knew I'd gone past the half-way point and I was still passing people; all be it at a much slower rate. I'd pass a runner, fixate my eyes on the next runner in front of me and give chase. I still had half the race to run and I knew I was running way too fast; but I still didn't care - I was having fun.

I took a timing hack at the 2 mile marker; but it was still way too dark to read any times. It was getting harder to catch the next runner in front, but I was slowly reeling them in one by one. My legs were feeling great; breathing was hard, but steady - not labored and I didn't feel anywhere near close to cracking. As I got near 1/4 mile to go I passed the last runner I'd catch in this race.

I fixated on two girls 20 yards in front of me and gave chase; but, they had their own ideas and continued to accelerate. I got within 5 yards of them at the finish, but just couldn't catch them.

I was shocked to look down at my watch and see that I'd run the last mile in 6:27; my unofficial time for 3 miles - 20:32; that works out to a 6:51/mi avg pace. That is the fastest avg pace of any race I've ever run.

So ... I can add three additional accomplishments to the year:

1) Fast overall average pace in a race: 6:51/mi
2) 3 mile PR: 20:32
3) Fastest single mile in any race since High School: 6:27

This is so much better than sitting around getting drunk. I think I've started a new tradition.

Have a great 2009 everyone!


Grellan said...

What a fantastic race Phil - well done. That's the equivalent of a 21:16 5k (probably faster, as you were motoring over the last mile). I couldn't think of a better way to ring in the new year. All the best for 2009.

Gotta Run said...

Maybe I should run in the dark. Sounds like it takes away the mental game of things. Still I love how you still had to pick and chase down another runner. You would not be the Phil we all know it you didn't.

Great way to end 2008!!

Congrats on your PR!!!! I am very impressed.

RunningLaur said...

What a great race, and a fantastic way to finish out the year!

DawnB said...

way to end the year phil happy new year.

Anne said...

Fantastic way to end the year, Phil!

Nicole said...

Awesome job! And, happy new year.

J~Mom said...

SPEEDY 5k PHIL!!!! Congrats!! Doesn't it make you wonder what we can always do without our watch?

I have looked at that race every year but I don't want to drive across Phoenix at that time on NYE. Bummer!

Thomas said...

Great result, Phil. Welcome to the speedy side! You'll see, it's fun here

Deene said...

holy moley, you kicked 08 in the butt!!
happy new year, phil!

Love2Run said...

All right Phil! What a great way to finish off the year with an unexpected PR like that! Very nice!

Ewen said...

Brilliant race Phil! Have you been doing secret training or something? I'm glad I'm not racing you anytime soon!

Thanks for the desert photos - maybe that's the secret - running in beautiful surroundings.

rolf said...

Great race Phil! I lived in Phoenix until 1985, and I ran a Midnight Madness race back then at ASU. Is this the same race? Best of luck in the New Year!