Lessons from my debut road Mile
“Sonja's words of wisdom were that every road Mile is a learning process.”
By Michelle Howell
As a middle distance runner, this is the time of year I usually spend counting down the days until the races are shorter and involve only left turns.
It takes a certain type of individual to enjoy at the least 3.1 miles of grass, hills, mud and the like, I am not one of them. I prefer the certainty of the track verses the hap-hazardous footing on an over-soaked Florida golf course with humidity that seems to increase with every step. While racing has never been my favorite part of cross country season, I've come to love the base training component of the seasons with more time spent on longer runs and workouts revolving around tempo pace.
Oddly enough I've actually found myself missing cross country season, not the muddy golf courses or never-ending black toenails from mileage, but racing in general.
To me racing is the best kind of training you could ask for, real opportunities to test your limits with real stakes involved. The more opportunities to practice my craft, the better.
Missing racing, but not missing the mud, I decided to try my luck on the road. This past Sunday I officially made my road Mile debut at The Navy Mile. I figured a Mile would be nothing compared to a 5K at this time of year and was excited to get a sense of where my fitness was considering my training has been exclusively revolved around just building up mileage with the goal of gradually introducing workouts in mid-October.
It's a learning process
Going into The Navy Mile I was excited and frankly incredibly nervous once I checked into the elite pick up area. I was pleasantly surprised to bump into a long time mentor and all-around incredible athlete, Sonja Friend-Uhl, during my warm up. Being no stranger to the road racing, before the start Sonja's words of wisdom wwere that every road Mile is a learning process. Unlike on the track, road races allow for more entries than just the eight lanes and more often than not larger prize purses to more individuals. With the incentive of prize money and availability of bigger entry pools, you never know who or how a race will shape up. As Sonja stated, "Every time I race on the road, I learn something new about myself".
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