Thursday, September 30, 2010

3 Things and 2 Pics on Thursday

1)I was so excited to read the announcement that Gold Medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson is going to try to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials. She is running in the Chicago Marathon at the age of 53, and to qualify, she needs to run a 2:46 marathon - something which women half her age will be striving to achieve too. This is just a remarkable feat - to even make that your goal at any age, but to try to do it at 53?! If that doesn't show how the body can (and mind) can endure for so long, I don't know what can. Talk about inspiring. I am already so excited to watch the Chicago Marathon this year, but this definitely adds to the excitement.2) I had an exhiliarating run this morning. 5 miles in the pouring rain. There is something so invigorating about running in the rain. Maybe it's the thrill of the elements, the reduced amount of people on the road, the whooshing sound of cars moving along wet pavement, but whatever it is, I love it. Rarely have I ever had a poor run in the rain.
Those shorts were originally light blue, but got so soaked they now look navy!

3) The Marine Corps Marathon is exactly one month away! I am so excited. Not only do I get to run another marathon, but I'm looking at that whole weekend as a vacation, even though I live right here in DC. On that Wednesday, my running buddy/partner in play Jenny will come into town. I plan on taking some time off from work so that we can just hang out as we get into the marathon zone. I still will have to go to class and teach, but I can definitely enjoy those few days as a mini-vacation as we gallavant around the town. Also, I love MCM so much (it's where I got my first BQ), and am very much looking forward to being a part of it again. I plan on running 10 miles this weekend as part of getting some double digit runs before MCM. I won't do any 20 milers, but hope to do a few runs beyond a half-marathon in preparation. Did 6 x 800 yesterday, all between 3:28-3:32, so it felt good to get some speed work in too.Jenny has gotten up to 18 so far, so we are on the right track! Can't wait to see that beautiful starting line again.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

An Unexpected PR: Clarendon Day 10k

As you might know, I am a Pacers Ambassador. Pacers is a family-owned running store, with several stores in the greater DC area. As an ambasssador, I volunteer at a lot of Pacers races, hanging out water, doing registration, etc. In exchange, I occasionally get free entry into races. I had racked up enough to get a free race: The Clarendon Day 10k. I thought, hey, why not - an opportunity to get in a good run, enjoy the company, and run a new course! I didn't want to have any expectations - the marathon was just 13 days ago. But it was worth getting out there, so I signed up.
Couldn't sleep well last night, but did't let that throw me off. I've said before, a bad night's sleep cannot wreck a race. Got down to the start with time to spare. Even had enough time to jog around. I zoomed around with airplane arms as a way to relax and play, and ta da - felt ready! No butterflies, just ready. My big concern was the heat - it was almost 80 at the start. Even though I knew I wouldn't out there too long, I still wished it was 10 degrees cooler. Ah well. And then the gun went off! The first mile was downhill, and people went out really fast. My split was 7:05, and I thought "Even if you were gunning it, you can't sustain this pace for 5.2 more miles - this is almost 5k pace." So I eased up, and wondered if a lot of people went out too fast. Second mile was about 14:30. Still, it seemed as if a lot of people were in front - maybe this is a fast course and there are just a ton of fast runners out today. Mile 3 came around 22:00. At this point, we were running along the Pentagon, and so taking that in was a time for reflection, and to just focus on that, rather than the heat or the run. At this point, the fastest people were turning around, so it
was exciting to see them - they were a distraction and it took my mind off of the run. I hit mile 4 in 29 and change. At this point, there was a woman who was running alongside of me. We were essentially stride for stride at this point. I decided that we could help each other out - just be there as a steady source, and to share the workload of the run. We kept going, saw the Pentagon again, and hit mile 5 faster than 37 minutes. I then realized just how hot it was - and we were running on a highway, so very exposed to the sun. Only a few more minutes of heat and fatigue, and then it would be over. Came to mile 6 at 44ish. At this point, the final .2 went uphill - time for all of the hill work to kick in. We gunned it, and finally that beautiful finish line appeared:
I was so excited! I hadn't planned on it, but I PRed by 10 seconds! It was a great feeling. The woman and I finished virtually side by side, and we shook hands after and congratulated each other. There was a feeling of solidarity that we had shared, in silence, over those miles, and I was glad we were able to both help each other. That's the beauty of this sport!
They had a post-race party, with all you can eat brunch, plus a free draft (Blue Moon baby!). All tasted so good, especially because I was so pumped. All in all, the race was great. Pacers puts on a good race: well-organized, good shirt, good course, fun after party, etc. And to PR unexpectedly was the icing on top!
I think what helped was that I went out with the goal of having fun. I've really been enjoying my runs post-marathon, and running for fun and playing has definitely had a positive impact. I've felt more relaxed, and just doing it for pure enjoyment as has worked wonders!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How tall do you run?

When I first started running two years ago, I came across an article that talked about "running tall." It said if you "think tall" you will naturally improve your posture while running and overall just have a better experience. Makes sense!

I am a big fan of this Ryan Hall video. The way he runs is very free and tall, and obviously it works well for him. It is something I try to think about and imitate on my runs. I thought tall a lot today. I may be 5'1", but today I ran like I was 6 feet tall. 5 miles, 50 degrees - perfect conditions for a run. Lots of hills. My legs just felt long, they took to the hills like it was my job. Car traffic may have been slow, but I felt like I could go on and on in the run. And the more I thought tall, the more I straightened up. I engaged my abs, rib cage was high, my stride just felt right. Could've conquered the world this morning, running tall.

As you can tell, I am back to running post-marathon. Time off did some good for my foot, since now I am running virtually pain-free. Ice and taking it easy made a big difference. I think we always take healthy running and healthy living for granted until it is snatched away. I know I have been guilty of this. My senior year of college, I had migraines for 2 months straight. After that, never took for granted of a migraine-free day. This tendonitis business made me recall that episode. I think too often I've gone out for a run without even being grateful that I can run, and run comfortably.

So today I ran tall and healthy - what a perfect combination.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Night Running

When the night air arrives
Dusk is a tenuous moment
The world pauses briefly
Hanging between day and night
A middle ground betwixt today and tonight.

Running along the brick road
Feet fall in the gentle rhythm
A coolness sets in, at last
Finally bringing the yearned-for chill.

Night running
Makes me want to sing
Listening to Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York,"
Makes me wanna swing.

Hands thrown in the air
Joy in the simple things
No one can stop my stride
I'll just go out and glide
And say "Amen" to the night run
And to those who taught me to just have fun.

Friday, September 17, 2010

What I learned in training for marathon #4

Now that it's over, it's time for me to review a bit of the marathon, beyond a report. With some time away, I've been doing some thinking about training and the race, and what I've learned and what I can recommend to others.
Things that happened during training:
*I raced a lot in the beginning of my training. From 5/9-7/4 I ran 4 races, none greater than 5 miles. But these races were ones where I could be tactical and work on racing strategies. I do recommend running smaller races where you have a chance of being out in the front. It is a different experience, and I think it has made me a better/smarter racer.
*I stopped lifting weights late June. This was not intentional - but my job in Saratoga conflicted with gym hours. At first, I worried - normally I lift once or twice a week, and that didn't happen during cycles 2-4 of training.
*Once every 4 week cycle, I ran 6 days a week. This meant a track workout on Tuesday, a 5 miler Wednesday, a 3 miler Thursday, tempo on Friday, 4 miles on Saturday, and a long run on Sunday. While 3 of my runs were at least 15 miles each, the other 3 runs were really short. The tempo runs that were independent from the long runs were really good and also made for tired legs in the long run.
*I did tempo runs during my long runs. These were really tricky, but having to speed up 12 miles into a run made me prepared to accelerate at the halfway point in the marathon.
*I frequently operated on a lack of sleep. Sometimes, this made me feel awful during the long runs. But it did teach me (just like long track runs) to be tired on my feet. So, I learned not to get worked up over a lack of sleep - if it happened that it was a 4 hour night, so be it. I did lower my expectations for the next day, and hoped for a nap later on.
*Every 4th week, I had a recovery week. Instead of running 55-60mpw, that week I ran about 33 miles. I highly recommend the cutback week. It automatically gives the body to recover during the whole training period, instead of just waiting for the taper. When you run half the mileage, it also gives you time for other things - like sleeping or cross-training.
*I swam twice a week. This was a great recovery tool and helped to stretch me out. Plus, it works all of your muscles in a way that helps, not hinders running. I always felt better after getting into the water for 1000 yards.
*I lost weight. This was not intentional - I think the stress of comps, the high mileage, and life just caught up and led to that. I couldn't put it back on, and at first, I wondered if this would hinder my racing. But the more people I asked, said, well, this might be my racing weight (still need to read Matt Fitzgerald's book, Racing Weight). So, for now, we'll just go with the flow. If it comes back on, fine, if not, no sweat either.
*I ran on hills A LOT even though Rochester was a relatively flat course. And this helped, because A) it made me climb the hills that were there with ease and B) just helped to build stronger legs that could stay strong in that last 10k.
If you add all of these factors/experiences up...
You get a 3:35 marathon and a happy marathoner all around. Yes, there are some things that could have happened (more sleep and lifting) that may have improved my time. But, overall, the training worked out. Things slipped a little, but overall, I stayed on the ball.
You can take these pieces of advice if you want, or not. But, the marathon is always a learning process, and I learned a lot in training for #4!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Hometown Advantage - The Rochester Marathon

Saturday night I had made my peace with everything - it was time to relax and go to bed. While a bad night's sleep can't ruin a race, a good night's sleep certainly can kick off a good race. On Saturday night, I got 7 hours of sleep, and even when I woke up at 2AM, I rolled back over and fell asleep again. Woke up at 4:30 feeling refreshed and ready to go. Did my quiet morning ritual of tea, hot chocolate, and Kix (and watched Spirit of the Marathon) in my home. So nice to be in my usual surroundings, the house I grew up in and am most comfortable in.We took off and headed to Frontier Field, where the race started. To get in the zone, I did bring my iPod for the car ride. Big psych-up songs: Chariots of Fire, Your Love is My Drug (Ke$ha), and Cecilia (Simon and Garfunkel). All worked their magic, and by time I got out of the car, I started to feel ready to go. Because this was a race in my hometown, I ran into a bunch of people I knew before the race started: old friends, people whom I've met during my running career, people from the area. That helped some of the nerves die down, and when I walked to the start, I saw Manuel, one of my triathlete buds. To get a hug from him helped too.
Hugged my parents too, and that dialed down some of the nerves. Then it was time to run!
The gun went off, and that helped to calm me
down. First mile was slow, 8:30. But first miles of the marathon are supposed to be slow - they're a warm up, you're just getting settled in. I was fortunate enough to start near the front, so I didn't feel like I had to do a lot of jockeying to get into a comfortable position. There was a group of 5 guys running a few steps in front of me, so I just let them lead and block me from the elements. It was drizzling, but that actually felt nice and cool.
Pretended that I was Deena Kastor running with the men in Spirit of the Marathon. I just let them do the work and their conversations just wash over me. I think around mile 5, I realized that I would need to let them go, at least for now. Maybe I would see them later, but I didn't want to press the pace. Let a few women go, too. Saw 2 Wegmans (local grocery store) within the first 7 miles. My mom and dad were at mile 7, which I hit around 0:55.
Was running close to 8 minute miles, and was very happy to see them (this was when this picture was taken). At this point, the majority of the hills were out of
the way, which was good. I thought I should ease up a little, as I am not ready to run 8 minute miles in the marathon (that is a 3:28 marathon), and haven't trained for it. Foot was bothering me, but to an extent that I knew I could handle, nothing overly concerning. Relax, I thought, you've already run more comfortably than you thought, you can do this.
Then at mile 9, the course went on the Erie Canal. Now, I absolutely love the Erie Canal. I grew up on it, biked on it, went for walks on it, and when I started running, trained on it. It is beautiful, and I really enjoyed that 12 miles of the race were spent on the canal. Things grew somewhat quiet at this point. The pack had thinned out, and spectators were every few hundred yards. Things switched over in my mind for a while - I was out on a long run, I was not in the middle of a marathon. I relaxed a bit, knew I could manage my foot, and just took in the surroundings. Things were kind of damp, and had that wet smell of -- nature, and it was very calming. Spectators would pop up here and there. One woman shouted "Go little girl!" and I yelled back "I'm not little, I'm 24!" Gotta have a sense of humor, and I was about having fun. I was starting to get anxious to get to the halfway mark, not as a sign of relief, but because I was feeling antsy. Sarah and I had discussed strategies, and we decided that I would not throw in any surges until the half. So when that point came, I picked things up and passed a few people who I had had my eye on. I knew that I would be seeing my parents again at mile 15, so there was definitely a feeling of anticipation, but I knew I could not speed up again until mile 20. Saw my parents very clearly at mile 15, and they had gotten all of the other spectators to clap and cheer for me, which felt great. Here I am at mile 15 and this was the sign my parents made for me.
Couldn't wait to get to 20, and that never happens. I just kept waiting and waiting, and finally it appeared. Alright! Time to make a move! Normally, there's the "It's just a 10k left" thought, but I actually this time believe that it was just a 10k left, and not find that to be a ridiculous thought. At this point, a bunch of the female runners who I had "let goThe next few miles started to click off, and before I knew it, I had single digits miles left.
People have been asking me what I think about during the marathon. I actually got into some deep reflection at this point in the marathon. The big question that started to run around my head was, What does it mean to run with God? How does faith figure into this? I always race with a rosary in my pocket, because I seek protection and to know that I am running with God. I got into thinking about always running with God beside me and protecting me and guiding me, not just through the marathon, but through life. And to realize that you can run with God, and with God all things are good, is quite a liberating feeling. So I was feeling quite overjoyed at this point, because I knew I was not alone. I felt very much at peace. I had also been thinking about all of the important people who have helped me along the way, and so was feeling very blessed.
People who I had "let go" earlier started to reappear. This was the great thing about the canal - I could clearly see who was ahead. Time to real them in. Passed 3 in one fell swoop. Pretty much from the halfway point on, no one was passing me. But at the 20 mile mark, I was definitely passing a bunch of people, and it was time to be...tenacious. I had opened up a gap between some of the runners, so I had a lot of room in front and behind me. So, a lot of times, I would appear from around a bend, and people were clapping for me, individually, and that felt good. You need to feel good and supported when you're in the 20s, and I did. I knew I could push again at mile 23, so the goal was to just hang on and wait for that mile marker to appear. I kept thinking to myself how much of a paradoxical marathon it was:
*I had never trained so well or hard for marathon. But I had never gotten so run-down beforehand.
*I had never been so nervous in the weeks leading up to the marathon. But the nerves disappeared so quickly this time.
*I had never had such actual pain during a marathon. But the nauseous feeling I normally get in the 20s was not there.
So I contemplated all of this, and finally, mile 23 appeared. Time to push, just over a 5k. Then 2 miles. I knew that when mile 25 came up I would really start to gun it. We were back in town and the people were out. Go, go, I thought. Thoughts of the foot started to vanish away. Then that beautiful 26 sign came up. I knew that .1 would be on one street, and the final .1 would be on another. I took off at this point, no other thoughts, other than go.
I could see my parents as I was heading down the home stretch. I was running along Frontier Field, which was built when I was 11. This was my hometown, my marathon, my advantage. What joy as I crossed the finish line:
I found my parents almost immediately after. They knew I had set a big PR (by 3 minutes), and there was just so much excitement. Not just over the PR, but that I successfully finished, there was no need to back out, and that I finished with a smile on my face.
Got in line for the massage table at that point. Felt so good! Getting up and on the table was a challenge, but the rub down was very welcome. Then it was time to wait for the award ceremony. I knew I had a chance of placing for my age group, but had to wait it out. Then the results finally came in. Here were my stats:
Overall place: 115/573
10th place for women (10/203)
Age group (19-24): 3rd
Victory! I was doubly excited about placing in my age group, and being in the top 10 female finishers. Manuel found me at that point and he wanted to take a picture with the AG trophy (he is so goofy).
Ta da! But it was a great feeling, to know that I ran a tactical race, and didn't do anything stupid. I didn't backfire, I didn't walk, I didn't blast off in the first half, and I was able to reap the rewards later on in the race.
I went home after the ceremony feeling quite content. Then round 2 of fun began: the phone calls. Got to call my relatives with the news, and catch up my friends on the results too. I was so touched with how many people prayed for me or thought about me, and shared in my joy. A friend of mine from home, Jen, even came over to visit (I wasn't up for much other than sitting on the coach). She said I was glowing. I was just so happy at that point, and to be with the ones I loved made the joy that much greater. I then went out to dinner with my parents, which is always a fun part of the marathon day. Prime rib and Sam Adams Oktoberfest never tasted so good. Just relief at that point. I was so grateful that I was able to go home for this, spend some (albeit short) time with my parents, and run this marathon in my hometown. More stories were told, and laughs were had. Went home and got share the joy more - with my best friend Kathleen. Kathleen (now a doctor) means so much to me, so to talk to her on this special day, even when she has all of her doctor duties, meant a lot. Also got to share the joy with Jenny, who will be running her first marathon next month at Marine Corps. And I'll be right alongside her. She knew how worked up I had gotten in the weeks leading up to the marathon. We chatted on webcam, and that was so much fun - we both just smiled a lot. Lots of joy. I had carried her poem in my pocket during the race, and she was right, 26.2 does bring such harmony for me.
Bed came soon after. My mom and I watched one episode of Friends, and that was it. But the day was not quite over. I received a phone call from my other triathlete bud Mark, who had completed his first Ironman on Sunday. He finished in 12:58, breaking the 13 hour goal he had set for himself. What an accomplishment - I am so proud of him. Could go to bed feeling very proud - Rochester was well-represented today. I flew back into DC yesterday and it is back to regular life. Was able to catch up with Sarah, my running coach, and she was very pleased how the race went too.
I am incredibly sore today. As I told one of my professors, it feels like I've been thrown down a flight of stairs, but in a good way. Everything aches, but I couldn't be more happy. I am humbled, overjoyed, blessed. I am grateful for all of my loved ones who helped get me to the start, and celebrated with me in some way at the finish. As always, the marathon is an incredible journey, and this one was a hometown victory lap.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Before I shipped off...

I talked to my triathlete bud Mark yesterday. He is heading out to Ohio for his first full Ironman on Sunday. And with my marathon being on Sunday too, we obviously had a lot to talk about.

He said a lot of his colleagues were wishing him luck before the Ironman. I asked him if he felt like he was going off to war. He said “Yeah! I didn’t think about it like that.” But we concurred that the way people look at you before taking on a big event like a marathon or Ironman, that stare and wonder about the unknown, makes it feel like we’re going off into a battle. But Mark and I shared in that feeling, that knowledge of taking something on that is unusual, not unheard of, but not what one tends to do on any given day.

Over the past few days, I worked really hard to relax, which seem to be a contradiction in terms, but was the case. When I was at home, I brought everything I needed to the nightstand or endtable, so I wouldn’t have to move. Last night, on a “school night,” I had dinner at my friend Amanda (the medievalist and nurse)’s house. I knew that good food and great company would serve me well. I’ve had back-to-back nights of good sleep. Yesterday, as soon as I was done teaching, I went home, choosing resting at home as the best option for the day. I even got in a 20 minute run on Friday. Some pain, but certainly manageable pain. Got clearance from Sarah – the runner (and medievliast), Amanda (nurse and medievalist), and Kathleen (doctor and best friend). It can be done!

Went back to school late in the afternoon afternoon for a graduate student function. Had debated about going, but knowing that it would be my last chance to see my DC friends before marathon convinced me it was worth it. And it was. So fun and relaxing. To get well-wishes from everyone was just lovely.

And with that I boarded a bus to the airport. I donned my Boston jacket, and sure enough, there were 3 other Boston Marathon alumni on the bus! One of the runners I actually have friends in common with, and we spent the ride to the airport chatting away abut running and marathons. What a small world.

Flight was smooth. I am back at home. Went to the expo this morning to pick up my race stuff. Finally got the race number – 493. We are ready to go. It will be 59 degrees at the start with a chance of rain.

Today is a good day to be alive. I am grateful that there are those out there who serve our country and make this country great.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Save it all for Sunday

This is the end of training, and there is no point in risking anything. So, I am doing a lot less running during my final week than normal. I am going to save it all for Sunday.
I've been very grateful to all of the support people have given me, particularly in the last week. Reason starts to go out the window as a marathon approaches, and any possible hurdles will expedite the crazy-mind process. I saw Sarah (my running coach) yesterday, and she was my barometer about this whole thing. If she flinched about my foot, that would've raised my stress level considerably. But she asked a series of questions, including "Does it feel like your shoes are tied too tight?" and concluded with what I was sure of already, "It's definitely tendonitis." Well, I actually sighed in relief at that point. No concerns of a stress fracture (a phrase which had been spinning around my head last week), so wahoo! I had been looking at pictures of feet all weekend and had come to the realization that the pain was too high to be a bone - it was definitely a tendon. This is why I have a master's in medieval history, not a MS. It is certainly uncomfortable, and while it's not ideal to run a marathon feeling like this, it is doable. And my cold is almost gone too. Day by day, I'll figure it out. I need to work on my mental strategy for Sunday. Might not feel like 100% on Sunday, but I'll certainly give my 100%.

In an unrelated note, Ryan Hall jumped 5 notches in my book in his latest blog:

After a morning run, lunch with friends, and a 90-minute nap, I started debating whether or not I should head out on my prescribed easy run in the afternoon. While grubbing on some Kix I started the all-too-common runner debate: to run or not to run?

Hold the phone. Ryan eats Kix cereal too? Kid-tested, mother-approved? Woo! That has been my cereal of choice since, oh, 1991. Glad to know my breakfast is the breakfast of champions!

Back to reality. In 14 weeks of training, I ran 677 miles. That includes lots of massive speed workouts, tempos, and long runs. I can rest easy this week, and trust in the months of training I've put in over the summer. So many times I toed the line at the track when the sun was still struggling to rise, so many times I saw Saturday when others were still on Friday. I hit my splits, even in the heat, I hit the hills of Saratoga and Takoma, and my reward is the mostly-flat Rochester Marathon.
I get on a plane tomorrow night and fly home. I have the hometown advantage. My parents will be around all weekend - from start to finish. I cannot wait to see them - not going to lie, looking forward to getting babied a little. The next few days are all about rest, rest, rest.
A friend of mine sent me a poem about my upcoming marathon. She did this as well before Boston, and I kept a copy of it in my shorts pocket to look at while I was waiting to start. I am going to include a few lines,
Keep this in mind
You have trained
you have fought
you have given great thought
to this race and this time
Many have watched and wondered
Some have questioned your sanity
But for you 26.2 is a magic number and brings harmony
It is definitely my magic number. Gotta save it all for Sunday...

Monday, September 6, 2010

How I ached to be there: The Perfect Mile (a review)

Today was a day about not running, at least me not running. Off day, rest day, taper day, labor day - so many reasons to not run day.
But I could read about it, right?
In August, I had started The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It by Neal Bascomb, but had to put it away. Today was the day to finish it - schoolwork hasn't piled up, and I needed some motivation.
I could not put it down. While I knew who would break through the 4 mile barrier first, it was the journey that captivated my interest. These three runners represented what it meant to be an amateur runner - no appearance fees, no sponsorship, and (most of important), running was not their livelihood. So Roger Bannister was working on his medical degree while trying to crack through this seemingly-impossible barrier. He didn't have the time to devote multiple hours per day to training, he did what he could, then went back to his schoolwork and rotations. It was easy to identify with his experiences in that way. Yes, the elites today are utterly fascinating and admirable, but the amateurs from the old days need to be acknowledged too for their ability to balance running and their "regular lives."
Neal Bascomb did such a phenomenal job with his research. His attention to detail, paired with his eloquent narrative, made a wonderful combination. I was completely captivated. To me (as a historian), the sign of good historical writing is if the author can "take you back" to that time. How I ached to be there! I could only imagine the buzz around the world in the 195
0s, the whispers at every track meet, wondering if today was the day that a runner would break 4 minutes.
One of the beautiful things that Basacomb documented was the sense of camaraderie and dedication each miler's friends had. Each had their own entourage - friends and family - who were working to help the miler achieve the goal. No one did it alone. This was beautiful to read about - Bannister had a few friends who served as pacers and worked relentlessly alongside of him to help him achieve the dream. The friends were not in it for their own glory or fame, but to help a beloved fellow runner. One of Bannister's pacers, Chris Brasher, remarked "We honestly believed that if you have a dream and you work to make it come true, then you really can change the world. There's just nothing you can't do." What an attitude. And that support, that belief, in oneself, I am sure is what ultimately led to victory in the mile.
To read of that epic moment on May 6, 1954, caused my eyes to well up. And my eyes watered again when I read the description of the "Mile of the Century" between Bannister and John Landy. The thing that got to me was that breaking through that barrier had previously seemed insurmountable to the world - it couldn't be done, they said. But when that barrier was smashed, a shot of optimism was felt around the world. It could be done, and not just once, but again and again.
If you've forgotten about what makes this sport beautiful, read The Perfect Mile. It swept me away, it may have taken more than 4 minutes, but it is definitely a reminder of why runners are relentless human beings.