The 1500

Last night I did my second track race, again at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island. The weather was considerably more amenable than last time, although it was still on the windy side. Fortunately, it was a swirling wind and gusty rather than steady. It was warm, but not at all humid, which also helped.

We got there in 20 minutes. Last time it took us over an hour. So there was a lot of sitting around time. There were a lot more people there this time around, something I was happy about because it meant I’d get to run in a women’s only race rather than a mixed one.

I stupidly forgot to bring any water, so once I warmed up, I was pretty thirsty. I don’t know if the water in the women’s room sink spigot was potable or not. I guess I’ll know in a week or two.

As usual, I felt sluggish and slow during my warmup. But I’m learning to ignore that and not read too much into it. And, once again, I was intimidated by a woman who looked around my age but had much less body fat. I also did not need to worry about her, as it turned out.

I learned my lesson in the last race: starting lane position is important. Last time I started in an outer lane and spent most of the race running wide around people in the innermost lane. This time I lined up in lane 1. On the second lap I needed to hop into lane 2 in order to pass two people, but other than that I was in lane 1 the whole way. We were all really spread out anyway, so crowding was not an issue. But, still, it was good to get a start in the most advantageous lane.

My pacing plan was as follows:

Lap 1: 66 (remember, it’s a 1500, not a mile, so the first lap is 300m)

Lap 2: 90

Lap 3: 90

Lap 4: Run real fast

I was shooting for a 5:36 and had figured that if I could go out just a smidgen faster than goal pace and then hold at 90 for the bulk of the race, once reaching lap 4 I could either try to continue to hold on or pick it up if possible. The race didn’t quite play out that way. I’m still learning how to pace these things.

I came through the first lap in 60 seconds. Oops. So much for even pacing.

Lap 2 was 92. Not too far off.

Lap 3 was 96. The wind was noticeable on that one.

Lap 4 was really pretty awful from a physical standpoint, but I managed to hold on at 96 again. One woman passed me at 30m before the finish, but I held another one off. Another meter and she would have caught me (she was 0.2 seconds behind me). Jonathan said I looked very tight on the last lap. I need to work on staying relaxed while running fast.

Official time: 5:45.8. I was 6th F and Jonathan said he thinks I was probably the first masters woman.

I was fine until about three minutes after the race. I had what I now realize was the fastest allergy attack I’ve ever experienced. Uncontrollable caughing, copious amounts of phlegm, tears, and impressive wheezing. Jonathan disappeared in the stands to watch the other races. I was not in any shape to be around other human beings, so I disappeared around the side of the stadium to continue my dramatic attack.

After about 15 minutes I managed to calm things down, but it was getting to the point where I was getting, “Are you okays?” from people. A few other women who were in the race with me were similarly coughing/wheezing, so I have to think there must have been loads of pollen (or cancer-causing particulate matter from the cars on the RFK Bridge above us).

I was sorry I was such a mess, as I would have liked to have watched some of the other races (mine was the first event). But I wanted to get home to water and an allergy pill.

Today I certainly felt the effort in my body. Mostly my upper body, like I spent the previous day weilding an overhead paint roller. But it was not as bad as after the mile. I managed 7+ miles at recovery pace this morning without issue.

That’s it for track racing this season. I’ll be back next year, with faster goal times. And allergy pills and water in my bag.

9 Responses

  1. I love the fact that I’m reading about your experiences racing on the track. When I first discovered your blog, I thought you were nothing but a high-mileage marathon slogger. I had no idea you’d morph into a speedy demon! I’ll be racing on the track in a few weeks and am starting to get pretty excited about it after reading your report. I’ll definitely take my allergy meds before I get there.

  2. Wow to that first 300! Maybe holding your position in lane 1, or just the adrenaline of the track? I think that was significantly faster than even-pace to affect the final time. 22 sec 100s gives you 5:30. Yes, you can be a bit quick the first 300 – maybe 64 would be good, then hold 88s.

    Anyway, great effort and PB. I’m looking forward to next year. It takes 4 or 5 middle-distance track races to hit a peak too. I’ll bet on sub-5:20 for the 1500.

  3. And you need to put the track races in your Stats! Don’t forget the 1/100ths, or 1/10ths if they hand-time.

  4. Jaymee, you’ll have a blast. Be sure to wear spikes. It really helps. I’m surprised at how many people don’t at these things. Plus you’re a lot faster than I am, so you should burn up that track.

    Ewen, we’re lucky to have a clock at the line. In this race, it was 8 seconds off for the first lap (so it read 68 when I came through). Fortunately, they sent a guy out to call splits and had corrected the clock by the time I came through lap 2.

    I never thought I’d say this, but I really enjoy these shorter races. Even though I won’t be training for it, I’m planning to do the Fifth Avenue Mile in September. I hope to be a lot faster by then.

    • That’s good. 5th Ave will be something else again!

      I think one can improve quite a bit at the 1500/mile just by improving one’s sprinting – say, a session of 100s to 200s with full recoveries every couple of weeks. They’d be beneficial in three ways — strengthening the fast-twitch fibres, neuromuscular/form and heart stroke volume (with the repeated fast acceleration of the heart-rate).

  5. That looks like fun. You get to choose your lane? Here’s to future speedy track races!

    • Insofar as I wasn’t dumb enough to start in lane 7 again, yes. Although a young woman was crowding me in Lane 1 at the start. I guess she was also no dummy.

      You should try one if you haven’t, Jim. They are a good time. Track races, I mean.

  6. We ran by Icahn on Tuesday night but my legs were still pretty trashed from the weekend so we didn’t race. I have to admit, though, I felt a certain jealousy for you all as I caught a glimpse inside the stadium.

    Sorry about the allergy attack. That’s no fun. Weird that it hit so fast. Maybe the strain of the race triggered it?

    • I was taking bets with myself on whether you’d be crazy enough to track race after a 50 miler. It looks like reason prevailed. As for the allergy attack, my symptoms tend to come on fairly quickly — like over a half hour. I suspect it was the sheer volume of air I was taking in during a very short period that made this one happen so much quicker. I’m just glad I didn’t run the 3000, as it would have happened mid-race. 🙂

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