Here are few chances to race a mile in this metric age but for any fan of athletics the distance retains an iconic appeal. So the Golden Stag Mile stood out in my postLondon Marathon diary as an evening with potential. In the month building up to the race
Paul has his eye on a fast mile. The mile has some other ideas
adrenaline I’d probably open up with a 77- or 78-second lap and be pleasantly surprised at how fast I was going. No. The woman called out 80/81. A bit slow, but all was not lost. I was still in contact with the lead group and briefly fantasised that I was running an evenly paced race and might win it. Then reality stepped in and the leaders began to pull away. I tried to fix my gaze on the vest in front, but my eyes aren’t very good. Soon I was in no man’s land, between the leaders and the chasing pack.
Second lap: 2:46. I battled on into the third – the mini wall of any mile race. You’re knackered, you’re only halfway round. The third is where you win it. You won’t be surprised to know it’s a battle I lost. 4:16 came the cry. Ninety bloody seconds…what’s going on?
By this time the pack was right on my tail, headed by a girl called Emily, who had the support of half the stadium. I braced myself for the moment of overtaking. Emily, or maybe Olivia. Possibly Jennifer. This was one of the few times in my life I’ve been chased down by a pack of women. Now the plan within the plan for the last 400m was to kick at every 100m and then really go off the last bend. Somehow I kept the chasing pack at bay. With 250m to go a Matthew overtook me but I dug deep, found something and kicked past him in the straight. It felt great to sprint. I went through the line in 5:35.2, a mere 0.7 of a second ahead of Emily and, it seemed, half the women in North London athletics.
So, I had rallied for an 80-second last lap. That means I didn’t push the third lap hard enough. I’ve lost the ability to really hurt myself over a short period of time. But I loved it and I’ll do more this summer.