"Each step forward has a sacred meaning of its own"   Sri Chinmoy

Pacific Ocean 2 Mile Virtual Race - May 31st 2020


So with one series of Virtual Races over, another begins. This time it's one of my favourite challenges - the 2 Mile Race! Something very close to the hearts of all Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team runners, this distance has been a favourite within our running family since the early days of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. Having run myself ragged at the 5k races and felt various parts of my body start to feel on the edge of breakdown, I was glad to be stepping down in distance. Of course that meant I had to at least try and step up in speed.

This months virtual events (for June 2020 - I ran this on the last day of May but you have 3 days to complete and submit your race) include four 2-milers and also a 3x1 relay which I aim to run as part of a Bristol SCMT team with Cristi and Suswara. Then there's the small matter of a 10k on the summer solstice which I have decided to target, as I think there is a slim (very slim) chance that I could break 40 minutes again.

So - how hard to run the 2 milers? I decided to run them at whatever pace felt good, avoid trashing myself and also try to dip below 12 minutes at least once. I did that in Greece a few years ago but in hindsight I reckon the course was short. In terms of reliable 2 mile races, certified courses, I haven't been under 12 for around 10 years.

Kokila came with me to Bitton but set off on her own session at her own pace leaving me to warm up for 20 minutes (jogging, strides, a few drills) and meditate alone on the line before charging off at stupid pace. It took a while for the Garmin to settle down and give me an accurate lap pace. I was aiming to run mile 1 in 6 minutes and see how I felt for the second half. Keeping the pace up at sub 6 was very hard at fir.st and I couldn't see myself keeping it up - then I lengthened my stride a little which allowed my breathing to slow down and found myself coming out of the shade and into the sunlit section with an average pace of 5.55 on the clock. Ahead I saw the cool, shaded section of beautifully straight cycleway leading up to the chevron sign that roughly marks the turnaround, the certified one mile mark. Hard work, tough pace. I went a little overdistance and turned just before the sign (it falls a few metres after the nail and paint that marks the mile) then heard the old-school garmin's shrill alarm ring out a couple of seconds later as I was accelarating back up to pace.

Mile 2 was a struggle from start to finish, distance lengthening and time slipping through my fingers. I was soon into rapid breathing, going out of my aerobic zone and running breathless, trying to hold on to some form. The average pace slipped slowly out, 5.56, 5.57, 5.58. I was panting and coughing with the effort and managed to hold on to that 5.58. The garmin rang out again just before the line but I staggered a few more metres before stopping.

Garmin time was just under 11.57. Victory! I walked up past the old trains by Bitton Station and checked out strava on my phone. time - 12.07. Doh! The Garmin time was clearly right as I'd run a certified course, but I needed something to submit for the virtual race. For years I've not managed to get my Garmin to connect to anything online but back home I spent an hour or two wrestling with Garmin Express first on my laptop then Kokila's. Finally it installed on Kokila's yoga laptop and I had a link to my 11.57. So that's official - another best performance since around 2010. Well happy - having a good spell with my running! It's a great feeling to be running against my younger self and manging to compete.

As always the railway path at Bitton was stunning - the warmup and cooldown are lovely with the shade of the trees, the chorus of birdsong, the expansive views across the Avon Valley.


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