Crim Weekend Part 2 – The National Championship Race !
Part two of my Crim weekend involves another Crim tradition. This one is relatively new and is known as The Michigan Mile. The name is derived from the fact that the 1 mile race route originally was around and through the Flint University of Michigan campus. The route has changed in more recent years but still finishes along the campus’s edge on Kearsley St.
For the past XX years the race has connected with the national governing body for track and field, the USATF and hosted the Masters (over 40 years of age runners) National Championship 1 Mile Road Race. These are separate races for men and women with championship recognition awarded in each 5 year age group and separate men and women teams in each 10 year age group. Because of the USATF affiliation, the race attracts a very competitive field of amateur runners from around the country! This year runners from California, Florida, New York, Denver, and throughout the Midwest competed.
I join my running buds from the Ann Arbor Track Club (AATC) to compete in the team event. We actually enter two teams in the 60 yr + group. The entries are posted by USATF on their website and in the last day or two prior to the race I could see that I could count on finishing in the back of the pack in my age group as well as the entire field too!
I didn’t compete in this race last year due to injury and frankly I have not really been running like I am accustomed to doing since late 2017! So my expectations on winning a national championship were not exactly high. I did however find myself fantasizing about 6 or 7 runners collapsing on the course during the race and then maybe I might score a respectable finish! This year was more about simply having fun at the race.
Even when you run for fun, it’s still important to do the proper warm-ups, run the course, dynamic stretching, and other moves to break a sweat and get my heart rate up. While my expectations weren’t high, I did have a very strong and fast track workout a few days prior to the race and thus still held out a certain fantasy of finishing well.
The start! Off we go and I am not accustomed to having more runners ahead of me than behind me at the start. So despite my best intentions of starting reasonable, I failed. I started too fast running a 5:40 mile pace for the first 300 yards!! Yikes! My burning lungs told my brain to slow down or I would never even finish! So, that I did all the way to a 6:20 pace at the first quarter mile.
Better, but despite my will, the body won the battle and I smartly slowed to a 7:40 pace through the next half mile. To put this in perspective, I have not run this pace in over two years! Several runners had passed me, no surprise there, but I as approached the 3/4 mark and a slight uphill, I was determined not to let anyone else pass me.
The last runner to pass me was a 70 year old runner. Well, good for him. He pulled away from me a bit as I struggled up the hill, but then as I hit the crown of the hill with less than a 1/4 mile to go, I decided to close the 30 yard gap and then catch him. Well, he must have sensed me as I did close the gap but I “ran out of real estate” yet finished as strong as I could up that final mound to the finish line.
Unofficially I ran a 6:58 mile. Not exactly a time that is going to win a national championship for this old runner, but a time that I can be very proud of for it has been several years since I have been able to run that pace. After a year of knee surgery (non-running injury) and other aches and pains, I can confidently feel like I am nearly back to my normal running performance.
My final finish? I finished 5th in my Age Group! The best age group finish I have ever had competing in this national championship! And I have my running bud from the AATC, Aaron to thank for it too! That’s another story for another time, until then, yes I can officially claim my 5th place finish!
Thanks for following this short series. I hope you return for the full Crim 10 Mile race report soon!
Coach Lee, The Running Architect