I am SO proud of myself right now. Five weeks ago I was running on a treadmill 2-3 times a week. I wasn’t training for anything – running was just one of my cardio workouts. I mixed it up with spinning (alternative cardio) and weight training. I really wanted to run outside more *one day* but it was too cold outside to even think about that yet. The plan was to start incorporating more outside runs into my weekly workouts once the weather got better, then sign up for a 5K and maybe towards the end of the summer complete a 10K. That was until I watched the Spirit of the Marathon, which inspired this post. I signed up for the 10K the next day, since my friend Katie was already running it.
My training began on the treadmill (but I started running 5 times a week) and eventually when the weather got better, I ran outside as much as I could. Now I always always push myself to the limit, so merely finishing the 10K was not enough of a challenge. I wanted to finish it well (for me). I think 5 weeks ago my goal was to finish it under 10 minute miles. That would make it a 62 minute run. I bet if I pushed myself on the treadmill 5 weeks ago, I could run the full 6 miles at 6.5 mph on a treadmill (according to this converter – that would be 9:35 minute miles if you run at 0% incline, which I almost always for runs longer than 3 miles). Running outside was MUCH harder for me at first (because I never ever did it) so that’s why I was targeting a time a little slower than 9:35. Apparently I was holding myself back this entire time! What I realized after getting my beloved Garmin (which gave me the opportunity to learn my real pace) is that I ran on the treadmill at the pace that I set for myself (not the pace I was really capable of running at). For longer runs I always adjusted the speed down. If I felt strong, I increased it slightly mid-run and usually sprinted towards the end, but I held back because I was afraid to get injured. After running outside I was amazed at how much faster I could do it. They were tough runs, but I realized that I started finishing 5-7 mile runs in the high 8’s range. Last week I went on a 45 minute run with a coworker who was much faster than me. We were running around 8 minute miles for a while. I’ve never pushed myself that much. Sometimes I let him take off and slowed down a bit, but I rarely saw the speed go above 9 minute miles. He was motivating me to keep going (at that pace) for sure, but regardless – I did it. When I looked at the garmin at the end it read: 5.12 miles completed, average speed 8:41. What? I ran over 5 miles at 8:41 average??? The next day I had to do a 4 mile run – 8:41 was the new pace to beat. I knew it was a fast pace, but I had to run over 1 mile less than the previous day so I thought I should be able to do it. I pushed through and did just that – 8:41 mile average for 4 miles!! On Tuesday I did a 7 mile run (last longer run before the race) at 8:40 pace. And this determined my personal goal for the 10K today – I really wanted to average under 8:45 minute mile pace. In 5 weeks – I shaved off over a minute/mile of my goal time!
So how did I do today? I set up the bar pretty high for myself. I’m not going to lie – I was SO nervous. I knew I could finish this thing – I’ve put in the time and I was becoming confident in my ability. Very cool! But I wanted to finish it under 54:15 (that’s 8:45 pace). I secretly dreamed to even finish under 54 minutes, but really 54:15 would have made me very happy. I took off really fast right at the beginning. The watch read 6:45 pace for a few minutes. I just wanted to give myself some space from the crowd, but actually I was feeling comfortable in the mid 7’s for a while. I knew I couldn’t keep it up (according to my previous practice runs) but I was hoping that maybe the race adrenaline was really going to give me that extra boost. After about 3.5 miles I was done. It became really mental. I hated all the music I had. I was tired. I was done. I kind of wanted to walk, but I didn’t want to slow down to walking speed – I didn’t train this hard to walk! My body was capable of finishing strong. I knew that. I just kept on reminding this to myself. There were a lot of little hills. I started just concentrating on beating those. At some point I actually stopped looking at my watch. Surprisingly when I did glace at it, it often read in the mid-high 8’s pace. I just kept telling myself, keep this up and you can finish within your goal. And then it was mile 5, and 6 and then I saw the finish line. I sprinted towards the end, literally using up every ounce of energy I had left. I didn’t even look at the clock. My husband was there to greet me. I was happy to just be done. A few minutes later I asked him if he saw my time. He said the clock said 51:50 when I crossed the line!!!!!!!! After cooling down for a minute, this finally sank in. I shaved almost 2.5 minutes off my goal time (over 20 seconds/mile), and I’ve never run this fast in my life!! I was SO proud. So so proud. Katie finished a few minutes later – I was really proud of her too. She’s never run 6 miles before and I think she actually had fun. She said the music on her ipod really motivated her. I need to prepare my playlist better next time. And yes (although mid-race I thought I’d never want to race again. Am I freaking crazy toying with the idea of a half marathon… and maybe even a whole marathon one day?!) of course there will be a next time. Because this feeling can’t be beat. The marathon goal will have to wait, though. I realized I’m not mentally ready for it. Maybe in a few years