Nautical Mile Race Report: Or a Mile wasn’t Long Enough

Name of the race: Northport Nautical Mile

Where: Northport, NY

Date: June 10, 2017

Time: 9:00 am

Distance: 1.15 miles

Terrain: Net downhill

Entry fee: $10

Post-race Food
: Whole wheat rolls (plain, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds), orange slices, bananas, and water

Swag: Free photos and video clip of finish line

Time: Mile: 6:26, Nautical mile: 7:27

Performance: Overall: 69/354; Gender: 12/175; Age (35-39): 3/23

Weather: 75 degrees, 50% humidity

Finish line

You know you’re a runner when the first reaction you hear about someone running a mile is, “That’s gonna hurt.” Non-runners or people who run casually react differently. They think a mile is easy. They think, “What’s the big deal? You’ve run farther.” Those people don’t understand that the shorter the distance, the faster you run, and the sooner you’re on the pain train.

When my friends asked me why I was doing a nautical mile (1.15 mile), I answered, “Because a mile isn’t long enough.”

I saw this race a year ago and wanted to do it because well, a nautical mile is a novelty AND it’s a downhill course. You know how much I love downhill courses. The nautical mile was a great theme for the seaside town of Northport. The finish line was at the harbor, so we had a lovely view of docked sailboats and the intensely blue waters as we cheered for incoming runners.

The women’s race started at 9:00 and the men’s race started at 9:15. Unlike at the Thelma & Louise Half where the women were shy about lining up, there was no such behavior here. In fact some of the girls/women were too bold.  A string of little elementary school-age girls insisted on being right up front. Sigh. While I admire their confidence and bravado, this makes for dangerous running because those girls are at risk of becoming road kill when they’re tired of sprinting and slow down dramatically or just plain stop in the middle of the road. There were other women who were on the slower side who also insisted on being up front. I wish people would seed themselves appropriately.

Because of this I strategically moved myself around until I had only two slower people that I had to maneuver around once the race started. A horn blared and we were off! Thanks to my strategic maneuvering, I got a clear field fairly quickly. Once an open road was in front of me, I focused on not going out too fast.

The temptation in a mile race is to go balls out. After all, it’s a short distance and if you start too slow, you don’t have the time to make up for a slow start. But . . . a mile is too long of a distance to go balls out. So you need to run fast, but at a pace that you can keep for a mile.

Most of the decline in this course happens in the first half mile. It would have been extremely easy to go out too fast, but I relied on Garmin to slooooooowwwww down. As tempting as it was to go sprinting out at a 5:30 pace, I tried to stick closer to 6:30.

Halfway (.5) through the mile, there was a guy who informed us that we ran a half mile. At that point, I knew I had to go out and fly. I urged my legs to churn faster and prayed that I would be able to keep up this pace. I was scared about the upcoming pain from the lactate burn, but I knew I had to grit my teeth and bear it.

At the mile marker, there was a timing mat. I could see the finish line off in the distance. Another .15 mile left to go.

If you want to know just how long .15 mile is or how long a minute can last, tack on an additional .15 mile after you run a mile time trial. Seriously that extra distance is just plain cruel after you ran your heart out for a mile. It was like someone showed you a tempting treat and just as you’re about to reach out and grab it, they yank it away from you. That’s how I felt about that extra nautical distance.

There was a woman right in front of me. She crossed the mile marker timing mat ahead of me, but I knew I could pass her. I kept pushing and pushing until I did pass her. Yay!

And it was a good thing I did, because I beat her out for the 3rd place age group award, which was a nice beer glass. I like getting glasses as awards because Ben and I always break them (this is why we can’t have nice things), so they’re greatly appreciated and used in our house. Plus it nice to look at them and reminisce about the race.

I got a huge mile PR – 6:26. I previously thought it was 6:22 because Garmin beep slighty before the timing mat, so I added a second to what Garmin told me I ran a mile in, but I guess I was farther away than I had thought. Ha! Whatever. My previous PR was 6:37, so I’m thrilled that I knocked off 11 seconds in a mile and I ran a sub-6:30 mile. Woohoo! Another running accomplishment done!

While waiting for the award ceremony, I met a really nice elderly man, Paul. He and I kept each other company. He used to work around where I live, so we chatted about what Brooklyn was like 40, 50 years ago. I love hearing from people how neighborhoods change and what life was like long ago. Paul also won an age group award. I cheered loudly for him and he reciprocated when it was my turn. Then we walked a mile back with each other to get our cars.

The Northport Nautical Mile is a fantastic mile plus race. If you’re looking for a fast mile, I recommend this one. It’s faster than the 5th Ave Mile (I’ve done that race twice). You do get your mile time because there’s a timing mat at the mile marker. If you’re interested in other races that measure their distance in terms of nautical miles, you should try this Navy 10 Nautical Miler in June in Tennessee.

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12 thoughts on “Nautical Mile Race Report: Or a Mile wasn’t Long Enough

    • Thanks! I like doing mile races once in a while because I want to see how fast could I be. There’s a fair number of them around NYC, so they’re pretty easy to do. I have another one coming up in August, but it won’t be a fast race for me.

  1. CONGRATS!! Wow, I haven’t raced a mile since high school. I don’t even know what what my mile PR is, but I do remember that racing the darn thing is utterly brutal. So well done! 🙂

    • The pain comes on so quickly, but the nice thing is that it lasts only a short while objectively, while feeling like forever. If you do a little internet sleuthing, you may find your old high school race results somewhere on the internets. Two of my friends recently found some of their old high school race results.

  2. Congrats on a PR and 3rd place! I had never heard of a nautical mile before this post. I asked my husband (who was in the Navy) if they ever had to run nautical miles and he laughed at me and said, “no one runs nautical miles!” So then I showed him your post and said, “apparently people DO run nautical miles”. So thank you for an informative post and thank you for letting me prove my husband wrong. 😉

  3. I swear I’m not stalking you but I randomly clicked on “memorable races” and saw this at the top – this is my town! I live here! I grew up here! And I ran this race too that day. This was the first race I ever won an age group medal. I was not expecting to win anything so I actually left before the ceremony. I found out online. Anyway just wanted to share. 🙂

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