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virtual race day: #BVSC mile time trial

rest area 1 mile – original image ©

Race day arrived again – yippee! Following the great success of the first #BVSC ‘Lockdown’ 5k Challenge, it was time for the classic distance. The mile had an opportunity to shine. If I’m totally honest, I wasn’t looking forward to running this event solo. A mile on the track has an atmosphere and a competition to drive you forward. Running the same distance on the road, alone, without specific training… Well, it’s just very different.

My apprehension didn’t stop the usual race day nerves from kicking in mid-afternoon. I felt all the tingles and jitters as the focus narrowed towards the start time. At my chosen start line, I grimaced at a fellow runner ahead of me. Running at a slower pace, they no doubt would be encountered at a critical junction!

the biggest question of course is should I have tied up my 'Lockdown' hair? 🙈
the biggest question of course is should I have tied up my ‘Lockdown’ hair? 🙈


With no mile-specific training behind me and almost no anaerobic training to speak of in the last 18 months, some might ask what I was thinking. They’d be right to ask too; I think I did for a moment also. Still, you can’t say no to a mile challenge. That just isn’t in the spirit of running.

the shortest of race day events and often the most enjoyable too – you can't beat the mile
the shortest of race day events and often the most enjoyable too – you can’t beat the mile

Two years ago I trained specifically to improve my mile time. Almost half my week was track work and intense sessions. Back then I would metronomically run a 200m split in 40/41s when performing 400m intervals. I remember, I always checked my watch with a quick glance passing the back straight finish line on the track. It was a feeling, I just knew how to run it. Toeing the line yesterday, I didn’t know what a 41s split for 200m felt like no more than I knew what the surface of the moon tasted like.

The charts above hide my delightful pacing. However, the screenshot below from the Garmin Connect mobile app shows the truer nature with a less flattering zoom level. That start! 😱I wish I could maintain such but not even in my hay-day was that ever on the cards.

a better 400m start out of the blocks I've not had – sadly I was running the mile!
a better 400m start out of the blocks I’ve not had – sadly I was running the mile!

Even though I wasn’t on a track for this time trial, you can still see the fabled “lap 3”. Lap 4 filled with faltering and legs full of lactic, just trying to keep going until the beep of the watch.

not a lot of Zone 5 – I guess going downhill slightly avoids that?
not a lot of Zone 5 – I guess going downhill slightly avoids that?

One of two things happened with the heart rate for this run. Either it didn’t register correctly (I believe it did though) or it was the slightly downhill route. For a short space of time, at this kind of speed; maybe it just wasn’t enough to tip the scales. Either way I had the taste of copper at the finish line. Nothing was spared in effort, even if it was badly executed. 🙈View Garmin data »

race day summary

So much fun. This is possibly the only mile time trial that I will run this year. Sure, there’s nothing stopping me from just getting out there and doing it but the reality is that it simply may not happen. Distance is my goal and not the classic distance.

I’m rather happy with the 5:45 registered but it is of course invalid. Not just because it’s watch distance (although I did my best to get a route as straight as possible and no loops to add to GPS error) but because it was slightly downhill all the way. In total, about a 32m drop from start to finish. That’s pretty significant. How much it is worth over the distance, I’m not sure. Perhaps 2.5s per “lap” and 10s overall? It’s only a guess and it certainly didn’t make it feel any easier.

Where to next in the world of virtual running? We don’t know what the mysterious Chairman of the #BVSC will decide. However, one thing is for sure, it won’t be easy and it will be a lot of fun. Just like the 5km time trial a couple of weeks ago, the online friendship and congrats in these times is great for the spirit. The little post-race chats that we all miss so much, are still there in essence with a like or a comment on the Strava/Garmin activity. Still making the best of a bad situation.
“love the taste of copper in the afternoon” – I don’t know how folk like Stephen Scullion do it for 26.2

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