5th Ave. Mile, New York City
Daddy loves him some 5th Avenue Mile. It’s such a strange race — for an old guy. You get everything together, go into the city, park, warm up for 10 times as long as the actual race, race and then look around wondering how you’ll get in your miles for the day.
What I love about it is that it’s so unlike anything else we do all year. It’s only my second time doing this or any other mile race, but last year was a big learning curve. I started too far back in the pack and was weaving around guys doing 10 minute miles. This year, I stayed near the front. The starting choral is surprisingly narrow and when the gun went off it was like being shot from a canon.
After I was sure I wouldn’t be trampled, I glanced down at my Garmin and saw I was at a 5:03 pace. My first thought was, whoa, I better slow down, then I remembered, this is the whole race! It’s just this one mile — I’m not saving anything for later. I was at the quarter mile marker before I knew it (I didn’t even see it last year) and then there’s an uphill. My pace definitely slowed there, but that only motivated me to push down the last downhill half mile.
The other thing I love about this race is that I could never go this fast on my own. The combo of adrenaline, other fast runners, a slight downhill on the back half and the ever present fear of failure, really pushed me beyond what I could do alone at a track. I also love that after this year or maybe next, the mile can only be a reminder of how fast I used to be. It’s just not an old man’s game so I’m going to enjoy it while I can.
I finished 20th for my age category at 5:17, shaving a solid 11 seconds off of last year’s performance. It’s a silly race when you weigh all the prep to the event itself, but booking down 5th Avenue is really a great way to spend a day — or at least a tiny fraction of it. – Glen Freyer