Downhill Dashing

Just got back from the Westminster Main Street Mile.  I became interested in this race a couple months ago after hearing about its “generous” net altitude change, and it’s date was perfectly positioned during the easy month between the indoor and outdoor track seasons.  I treated it with a fairly casual approach training-wise, hoping to go down there and just try to not fall down the hill.  I hate going in to a race without feeling like I am at my best, but at the same time I realize that you cannot peak for months on end.  This was a perfect race to just run “as-is” and see what happens.  It turned out to be a great evening – yet another little diamond in the rough that I will certainly “save the date” in the seasons to come…

While warming up it appeared apparent that I was not the only person out there trying to fly down the Main Street course.  A ton of “fast-movers”  were circling the starting area doing drills and their final prep.  I have said before that I tend to suffer from “skinny bearded guy psych-out syndrome” – thinking that every little guy with expensive racing flats is going to run 4:09.  For once I was almost right.  After the gun went of, we all screamed down the course – both figuratively and literally.  I was probably in about 10th place at the quarter mile, heard the course official call out “59….60….”.  Ok, on pace for a sub 4:00 mile.  Not that in some sort of gravity-free parallel universe that couldn’t happen, but that just isn’t going to happen on this planet on this day.  As the grade of the street leveled off and the headwind became a bit of a factor, reality began to set in – 2:05 at the half, 3:10 at the 3/4.  Felt pretty good though, and the gods of course management were smiling on us – one last downhill to the finish.  Finished strong, probably had a little too much left in the tank looking back.  4:15 at the finish – not naive enough to believe that I am a 4:15 miler, but as a buddy said “it was a mile and you ran 4:15” so I’ll take it.  My biggest regret was that I didn’t run 4:10 – it was that downhill…..

Down to the finish line

Was 6th overall behind the guys I thought would be fast – several of them below 4:10 (none of them old enough to know who Sam Malone or Cliff Claven were though.  Kids…).  Won $25 and a Road ID for being the first Master – now when I get run over in Burbank they will know where to ship my body, and the cash paid for the gas to get the Tundra down to the race and about half way home.   I am definitely appreciative of any race that has cash prizes, some is always better than none.  Hey Harrisburg Mile – you ought to be taking notes!  Ice cream sandwich rumor turned out to be true, probably the highlight of the evening for the herds of kids who ran the Fun Mile.  The Westminster race organizers did a fantastic job – it was a great race and a really fun experience.  See you next year!

Ice cream sandwiches in the fire station

Last day at home tomorrow before a long one-day trip on Friday.  Don’t know what I will do – I think the weather is supposed to be pretty nice so I should probably get outside and log some easy miles.  If I am too sore I won’t hesitate to get in the pool though, because I am sold on its ability to help you recover quickly.  Maybe both, who knows.  As for now, I will go to bed and dream of crossing the finish and seeing 4:15.   I know it was gravity-aided, but 50 years from now when my grandkids visit my grave and see “He was a 4:15 miler” on my headstone I will have conveniently forgotten the asterisk.  It was a measured mile….

With Brian Ober, central PA buddy who hooked me up with this race. Brian also PR’ed - 4:50.0


About Nick Berra

I am a 45 year old masters runner from Central Pennsylvania. I have been participating primarily in track events since turning 40 in 2009. This season has produced marks that I have not run in several years, I believe primarily due to starting a strength and flexibility program here at Elite Athletic Performance - I've felt stronger and faster than I have in a long time. That, coupled with lots of underwater running, has kept me healthy and fit - at this age those are things I no longer take for granted... I run USATF events with a team out of Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club. They are a great group who have played a big part in making the sport enjoyable for me again. I also run local races for HydroWorx Track Club, supported by HydroWorx here in Harrisburg PA. Their underwater treadmills and training center has proved to be a crucial part of my training, rehabilitation, and recovery programs. I set personal records in the 800m (1:56.06) in 2010 and in the 1500m (4:02:63) and mile (4:23.48) in 2011. Despite the fact that I am not getting any younger, I nearly PR'ed recently and set the M45 indoor world record in the 800 meters at the New Balance Armory in New York City. I ran 1:56.10, besting the 9 year old record by less than a second. I feel like there are still more big things to come... I am married and have two daughters. I am an assistant XC coach at my alma mater, Cumberland Valley High School here in Mechanicsburg PA. I am also a 1991 graduate of the US Naval Academy, currently working as a pilot for FedEx after serving 10 years on active duty flying in the Navy. Beat Army! Beat Army!
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1 Response to Downhill Dashing

  1. Raleigh Berra says:

    4:15!…..Nice Work. Has Mel been hired by SI yet? Good pics.

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