Saturday, March 23, 2013

Today I Broke the Four-Minute Mile


This morning I ran four miles, part of my training for a June half-marathon.  It was very cold and very windy, typical March weather for my town, which used to be in New England but apparently has been relocated this winter to 150 miles east-northeast of Juneau, Alaska.


Anyway,  I pushed the “start” button on my trusty Runkeeper app and discovered it could not find the GPS satellite.  This is not uncommon, especially this close to the Arctic Circle; my car GPS often shows me driving through my neighbor’s bedroom and across the pond near our house.  Usually if I wait a minute or two I’m ok and my app is happy.


For those of you who don’t use a running app, I can highly recommend Runkeeper.  It does a fantastic job keeping time and distance, except for the mean lady who keeps whispering in my ear telling me how slow I’m running.  



This morning, though, I fell in love with that lady.  Here’s why.

The wind was howling and I was standing there frozen, so instead of waiting to find the GPS, I hit “Continue” on the app and the 15 second countdown began.  Runkeeper has a warning that things may not be all that accurate if it can't find the GPS satellite at the start, but no matter.  It was death by exposure or death by exertion.  I chose exertion and off I went.

Two minutes into my run, about the time I'm usually gasping for air, that mean lady whispered in my ear, “Time, two minutes.  Distance, point five-five miles.”  

What’s that you said, mean lady?  I was what? Running a four minute mile?!  I looked at the mailboxes; yes, they were whizzing by.  The telephone poles became a blur. Like Secretariat, I had become a great machine. And, I was falling in love.

Two minutes later, the new lady in my life whispered again in my ear: “Time, four minutes.  Distance, one point one miles.”

Imagine. Suddenly, miraculously, I was ROGER BANNISTER.  It only took me 40 years of jogging, but I had broken the four minute mile.  What was next?  Jim Ryun?  Sebastian Coe? The 2016 Olympics?


Needless to say, after such a remarkable performance I had to slow just a bit in my next three miles to something like 8:00 per mile. Okay, maybe 8:45.  No matter.

My half-marathon schedule says tomorrow I’m supposed to run six miles.  I’m undecided.  Should I run or should I simply retire from running? Maybe take up the pole vault?

Usually technology is against me.  Today, though, the earth wobbled.  Rivers changed course. Republicans and Democrats joined hands and sang "We Are The World." Technology was with me.

I may go back to struggling to attain 8:00 miles.  I may once again despise the Runkeeper lady. The earth may resume its steady spin and the sequester drag on.  


But make no mistake: Today, I was Roger Bannister.