One of the topics I’ve written most about on this site is my streak of sub-60-minute Boilermakers. I started in 2007, and have run under one hour every year since then. My sights are set on Paul Humphrey’s record of 23 years in a row going under 60 minutes, although I have quite a ways to go before I even am in the same ballpark as him.
My friend Mike Brych, though, would have tied Paul’s record of 23 years this weekend, if the Boilermaker was still to be held on the second Sunday of July and he ran his usual performance. Due to the pandemic, though, the Boilermaker was originally postponed until September, and then turned virtual.
This made Mike and I wonder: can you still count a sub-60 result during a virtual race? We discussed it, and came to the agreement that as long as we run the time on the official course and during the time frame to be counted in the official results, then yes, it counts toward out streak.
Since the official window for the virtual Boilermaker is in September, he and I will both toe the official starting line sometime around Labor Day, and each try to increment our streak counters by one. This past weekend, though, it felt blasphemous not to be running myself into a sweaty pile of exhaustion during the hottest and most humid time of the year, so I did a solo 15K time trial on Sunday just for shits and giggles.
I deliberately chose a flat course, because this is not counting toward my streak and I am not confident in my ability to run well on hills right now. I set off around 8am wearing my Adidas Takumi Sen racing flats, and tried my best to run 6:20-6:25 pace for 9.3 miles. I wound up getting locked in that pace pretty well, although around mile 7 I started to doubt my chances for breaking an hour. A 6:33 eighth mile left me really worried, and I gathered all my remaining strength (which wasn’t much to really hammer the last 1.3 miles).
Despite all my efforts, I only sped up to a 6:18 last mile, but that plus a bit of a kick for the final 0.3 led me to 9.33 miles in around 59:40. I ran until my GPS read 9.39 to account for the inherent inaccuracies in GPS units, where my final time was, fortuitously, 59:59.8. Then I nearly ralphed.
So, I’m excited to know that I can still run a 60-minute 15K with limited training, but I also know that I better get my ass in gear and do some more running if I want to do the same thing on the much hillier course in September. The good news is that I do have a window to accomplish it, just in case I don’t break an hour in my first attempt. There’s one good thing about a virtual option!