Wow! What a tremendous experience!
The mile is one of the few events that many people understand. For some reason the mystique of the sub 4 mile is something that has risen beyond just the sport of running. Maybe that is because for so long it was said to be an impossible feat to accomplish. Maybe as John Landy said, “The mile has a classic symmetry…it’s a play in four acts.” And each of those acts is an easy to comprehend minute. Whatever the reason, people always want to know two things when they learn you are a runner, “Have you run a marathon and what is your mile time?”
I went to St. Louis to run the Festival of Miles on Thursday night to take a stab at a fast mile time. Training had been going fantastic, so coming in the main goal of the race was to break 4 minutes. I had taken a few stabs at the celebrated barrier a couple of years ago, only to fall agonizingly short. Now I was much fitter and more confident than before.
Standing on the line was the usual mix of excitement and nervousness, something that you have regardless of how well prepared you are. I knew that the race was set to go fast, 2:55 at 1200m, so I figured that I was going to just get on the inevitable train that would follow the pacer. When the gun sounded, we all took off and there was plenty jostling for position. After the dust had settled, I found myself at the back of the pack, right next to Aaron Braun. I could not help but think of how fitting it was that the two marathoners in the field were at the back.
On the backstretch, I think I heard Aaron mutter something in frustration of the slow pace and then begin to move up and around the pack.