This morning I woke up at 4:30 a.m. for the privilege of participating in the inaugural race for The Encinitas Mile and I am so glad I did! After an uneventful 80-minute drive during which I got to see the full moon shine on the Pacific Ocean, I arrived in Encinitas at 7 a.m. and had no trouble finding free parking within a block of the race expo. I took advantage of the race day bib pickup and easily picked up my bib, timing chip and high quality cotton shirt (finally, a cotton t-shirt that is actually soft and stylish, although they do run a bit small in the women’s so go up a size if you are borderline.)
The event started on time and ran smoothly for multiple heats. I loved hearing a pre-race pep talk by Steve Scott, the American record holder in the mile for over 25 years, who has run 136 sub-4 mile race times! His main advice to the 6-12 year olds in the first heat (and all the other spectators listening) was to go out steady and run the mile at an even pace. He cautioned us all not to go out too fast (a mistake I’d recently made at the iTry 5K that almost cost me a PR). I’d never raced a mile before and had high hopes to come in under 7 minutes. I’d been doing my quarter mile repeats at about 6:55 and thought I could hit that for the mile if I managed the race right.
The heat for the masters men and women (all ages 40+, not including elite runners) started at 8:30 a.m. I lined up about five rows of people back, not quite midway in the pack. As an inaugural race there weren’t too many people in the heat and I had no idea where to put myself, but it turned out to be just right. I heeded Steve Scott’s advice and did my best not to go out too fast. I kept the pace between 6:11 and 6:44 (my slowest average pace after making the u-turn at the half-mile mark) and when I hit the 3/4-mile mark I picked up the pace until I saw the finish line and sprinted all-out to come in at 6:34! Turns out that with the small field (15 in the 40-49 group and 23 in the masters women overall) that put me in second place for both groups! I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Best of all, second place came with a gift card for $20 for Movin Shoes and a gift certificate for a running skirt from Running Skirts. I redeemed my gift certificate at the Running Skirts booth at the post-race expo and chose this super-cute, colorful option:
What a great day! I never would have guessed this was an inaugural event and I commend the organizers for putting on a well-organized and serious yet fun race. There was something for everyone, from children to masters to elites and, at the end, even dogs! The weather couldn’t be beat and the setting on Vulcan Ave. was gorgeous. I would totally do this race again and I recommend it to anyone interested in tackling the mile. I found that I very much enjoyed the mile race distance — definitely a challenge with the speed but “easier” than the sustained effort of a 5K.
Have you ever raced a mile? Did you compete in track at school and/or have you raced the mile in competition outside of an academic setting? As I said, I’d never raced the mile distance before but I look forward to working on my speed and taking it on again!