Saturday 9 August 2014

The Marathon Talk Magic Mile 2014

I first did the Marathon Talk Magic Mile in 2013. Back then I was still mostly living in Central London, so I did a few of my attempts on Victoria Embankment. The best time I managed back then was 6.04. In that blog post, I had mentioned that I might do the odd 1 mile time trial every now and then. Instead of doing that, I have introduced a 3 x 1 mile rep session that I do on the 1 mile stretch that I used for myn original magic mile. I tend to do this when I run with the Trump Street SRC. It's one of my favourite runs and I always look forward to it!

mile training?

This year I was in better shape and knew I'd be able to beat 2013's time - in fact I had already run a new personal best of 5.24 a few weeks before the 2014 magic mile competition took place. Also things had changed beyond belief - I had moved to Dartford and am part of a great running community....

So instead of just running my fastest possible mile on my lonesome, this year I decided to host my own Magic Mile event and get a few others involved. I was nervous that too many people would turn up so I didn't add it to the Marathon Talk website until the last minute. It worked out that the event attracted 5 of my #TeamSLGR running buddies. So on Sunday 3 August, the 6 of us were stood at the start line ready to test ourselves over this iconic distance.

I had thought long and hard about how I would make it work. First I found a nice flat 1 mile route around Central Park in Dartford (2 laps and a tail). Then I had to think about the method of timing. I had two ideas - firstly if everybody had their own timing devices, We could all set off at the same time and everybody could time themselves. Easy peasy.

The second plan was to send the runners off while I acted as time keeper. I could then run my time trial afterwards. The way it worked out, not everybody had their own timing devices so I went ahead with plan 2. To do this I used a stopwatch app on my phone which has a lap feature and as the runners crossed the line, I made a note of the name of the runner in each finishing position. If more people had turned up then I would have issued each finisher with a numbered piece of paper that could be used to match the runner to their time once everybody else had finished. Being a course of 2 laps, it was really easy for me to note down eveybody's half-way split times.

Once everybody had finished their 1 mile time trial, it was my turn to go. To make things simple I decided to just time myself using my Garmin. By the time I returned I had the feeling that we may have all run slightly further than a mile, but it was close enough for this occasion (the satellites kept giving me different readings so we went with the longer version to start with). I made a note to adjust it for the next time we have a mile time trial.

Sunday 3 August results from the '#TeamSLGR Magic Mile': (in no particular order...)

  • Dave Reid: 7.04 - (58.2% age grade) (splits 3.36 / 3.28)
  • John Annett: 6.55 - (64.4% age grade) (splits 3.32 / 3.23)
  • Dawn Annett: 8.02 - (59% age grade) (splits 3.59 / 4.03)
  • Rachel Bignell: 8.35 - (53.3% age grade) (splits 4.05 / 4.30)
  • Jane Reid: 8.10 - (58.1% age grade) (splits 4.11 / 3.59)
  • Steven Stockwell: 5.47 - (66.4% age grade) (splits 2.49 / 2.58)

I thought that might be it for this year, but the following day Dave Reid mentioned that he would be going over to the course with Jane Reid for a second attempt. Now, even though I had already run a 22km session that morning (with some fast sections), I really couldn't resist joining them. So at 7.15pm we met in the park for Magic Mile round 2, which I have named 'Reid vs Reid vs 7t'.

In order to make this second session a little more competitive, I came up with the idea of using a handicap system based on the results from the first session. So it worked out that Jane would start first, then 66 seconds later Dave would start (however we got a little confused and Dave went after 56 seconds), then finally I would set off 77 seconds after Dave. In theory, over the course of the mile Dave would slowly catch Jane and I would slowly catch Dave and Jane, and we would all finish at the exactly same time!

From my point of view, seeing two runners that I was trying to catch so far in front of me was pretty demoralising and I thought there was no way I could get anywhere near them. However, the handicap system did its job and in the final few hundred metres I drew closer and closer. I ended up finishing a whisker behind Jane and just a few seconds behind Dave who had reached the finish line first.

Monday 4 August results from the 'Reid vs Reid vs 7t' Magic Mile: (again, in no particular order..)

  • Dave Reid: 6.48 - (60.4% age grade) (-16 seconds)
  • Jane Reid: 7.50 - (60.5% age grade) (-20 seconds)
  • Steven Stockwell: 5.40 - (67.8% age grade) (-7 seconds)

All three of us had improved our times from the day before. I think the improvements were down to three things;

1. The weather was noticeably cooler and less humid (we ran this second one in the evening)
2. We adjusted the start / finish point to make it a few metres shorter (hopefully spot on 1 mile now)
3. The handicap system introduced a competitive situation to the run which made us all push a little harder

So there we go. The 2014 Magic Mile window has now closed. I didn't manage to get as close to my personal best as I would have liked. I think this may largely be down to my current 1 mile personal best time being run during a 1 mile race (Swanley Relays) and there was probably a little more adrenaline flowing. In theory I should have been able to run the same time or faster because my fitness level should have been pretty much identical, plus the Dartford Central Park course was flat and should have been a little quicker than the course at Swanley.

We have decided that we quite like these 1 mile time trials, so we are hoping to hold them at regular (or irregular) intervals. When we do it again, we plan to continue with the handicap system. However, next time it will be based on the second running of the event, so Jane will start 62 seconds ahead of Dave, and Dave will start 68 seconds in front of me. If any of the runners from the first event come along to event three, we can use their times from event one. If anyone new comes along, I will calculate their estimated 1 mile time from a recent race time of their choice and then allocate a handicap based on that.

Huge thanks to the Marathon Talk team for providing a fun way to get people involved in running the mile. I've enjoyed my second year of magic miling and by the looks of it, my #TeamSLGR teammates are now hooked too!

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