What’s it like to run a sub 5 minute mile?

A mental play by play account of the Harrisburg Mile July 2017.

You are warmed up, you are ready.  You glance at your competition, you’ve stepped into the big pool today.  These guys look fast, like thoroughbreds, all muscle, you can see every muscle.

You are nervous, everyone looks nervous.  You shake your legs, squat, jump, repeat.

When are we going to start, lets just start already?

The starter steps forward, your heart is racing, you are already sweating.  You crouch.  You never hear the gun or whistle or whatever it was, you are off!

Stay calm, stay in the group.  This seems fast, you brain wonders, searching for answers.  How fast are you going?  Your legs are flying.

You feel nothing, no discomfort, your legs just go.


You tell yourself to relax, ease the shoulders, calm your breathing, you have a long way to go.  Your hands are starting to tingle.

There it is, the first split, 1/4 mile.  The group is a bit stretched out at the front, but you are still right there, in the pack, in contact.  You haven’t lost anything yet.

You hear the split for the leaders…53…54.  WHAT!  You hear nothing after this.  You are only a few steps back from the leaders, maybe 10 yards.  Its hard to tell.  53!

You settle on your split at 58, did you hear it, or are you just guessing?   Who knows?

Fast, this is WAY to fast!

You start to think.  You have two options, either continue on like this and run a time the is beyond comprehension, or experience complete organ failure and die right there on the road.  You opt for safety, you slow down.

53, that number keeps echoing through your brain.

Idiot, that is crazy fast!  You must calm down, you must refocus.  The group is stretching out before you.  You are losing contact with the group, and you are getting passed by a few wiser runners.  You are losing position.

Steady, Steady.

You tell yourself its okay, you have lots of race to run.

Except you don’t, here is the half mile spit already.  You are half way, you can’t believe it.  You still feel fine, comfortable.  You hear 2:12.  Disaster, you’ve slowed far to much.

The race is half over, you need to go!

You are running like a yo-yo.  What are you thinking?  You need to get it together.  You must maintain this pace, your goal time is 4:30, you are still just under pace for that time.

Finally, you start to feel the effort.  Your legs feel just a touch heavy.  There is effort and concentration needed to maintain your speed now.  You relax your shoulders.  You keep you arms moving.  Stay strong, hold steady.  It still doesn’t feel that bad though, it should feel worse then this, right?

You see the road dip a bit, then begin to rise again.  You are working now, fighting to hold position.  You do not want to give away any more spots.  Lift your knees, keep your stride strong!

You start to see the crowd just before the line.  Where was the 3/4 mile split?  You never heard it, never saw it, you have no idea.

Its just a race now, your time doesn’t matter.  You need to go.  Its time to go.  The finish, its there, up ahead, you see it.

Everything hurts, yet you feel nothing.  Your desire has taken control, you have one objective, get there!  You are now running with everything you have, the crowd is yelling.  You pick out a runner just ahead, you catch him.  Immediately you focus on the next runner, you catch another.  You are moving up.  You see the clock, 4:30 has already past.

Go, Go, Go, you scream inside your head.  You are sprinting!

You are catching runners, but you kicked to late.  There are still runners just a step or two ahead.  You won’t catch them, the line is there, you cross.

Immediately, you feel the effort.  Hands drop to your knees.  You force yourself to stand, you need to breath, you need air.  Your heart is racing, legs feel weak and shaky.  Air, sweet, air, you breath, greedily.

You finished in 4:41, missing out on the lower end of your goal by 1 second.  You are disappointed.  You ran a poor race, your pace was wild and inconsistent, and you kicked to late.

Another finisher, just heading off to college, thinks you are in college too thanks to your F and M singlet.  You inform him, you are 35, and no you never ran in high school or college.  He seems impressed.  Maybe you are being to hard on yourself.

You see the results, you only lost to one person older then you.  You mark down a moral victory.

As soon as you thought it you regret it, you aren’t using age as a crutch yet.  Nor did you come here looking for moral victories.  Who cares how old anyone was or is, age is just a number.

Right then and there, you vow to return.


You will run again, you will run better, faster, smarter, much smarter.  You will break 4:30.

After the Pocono Marathon on May 20th, I plan to train for the Harrisburg Mile on July 18th.

I have ran 5 sub 5 minutes miles; 2 on the F&M track in training, 2 at the Main Street Mile in Westminster, MD, and 1 at the Harrisburg Mile.


Be an Animal

Do you know your Pace?

Stop selling yourself short!

Goals for 2018


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