Swim: 1,040 m/112,725 m
Bike: 0/1,247.9 miles
Run: 17.4/545 miles
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ve surprised myself yet again with my running over the past week. I’ve been so motivated recently, particularly after my 5k a few weeks ago, and I’ve been pushing hard on every run. Like I mentioned in my last post – my confidence is growing and I see every training session as a chance to live up to what I know I can do.
I hit two separate milestones in last Thursday’s tempo run. I had done this specific workout a couple times previously – it calls for 1 mile of warmup, 2 at tempo pace, 1 mile easy, 2 more at tempo pace and then 1 cooldown mile, for 7 miles total. The first milestone was achieved during the first 2-mile tempo segment, when I covered the distance in 11:59, or a 5:59 pace. The course has uphill and downhill segments, and I felt like I was crawling on the uphills. That tells me that I was well below that average pace on the downhills. And I could tell a big difference. It just felt like I was floating – my feet seemed to barely touch the ground. My stride was long and I almost felt like I was reaching with my hips - not in an awkward way but more like my legs were just so hungry to eat the distance. It was really an amazing feeling. There was no pain or real fatigue, and my only limiter seemed to be my very heavy breathing. (I couldn’t get quite so close to that speed on the second 2-mile segment, which I covered at a 6:08 pace – without the floating feeling!)
That 5:59 pace over 2 miles is the longest I’ve ever held a sub-6 pace (the previous was the first half of my recent 5k), and only the second time that I’ve recorded that kind of pace during a non-treadmill run.
The second milestone of that tempo run was finishing the entire 7-mile course at a 6:49 pace – the longest run I had finished at a sub-7 pace (the previous was my 10k last April, at a 6:56 pace). It’s odd to reach that kind of final overall pace while three of the miles were well over 7 minutes, and one of them was 8:17, but I guess that’s what the fast 4 miles gets me.
With my recent training performances and the results of some online race calculators I’ve been stalking, I began to wonder if I could start ticking off some longer distances at an overall pace less than 7 minutes/mile. My quiet goal for this past weekend’s 10-mile long run was to see if I could hit that mark. I also decided to try it without any supplemental nutrition, just to see what would happen on a longer, raw run – just me and the street. It was gritty and tough, but I ended up finishing the distance at an overall 6:56 pace, with the last 4 miles under 6:50 to help compensate for the slower pace of the opening miles, which hovered around 7:20.
Those “warmup” miles have been a factor that I’ve considered a lot in recent weeks - how much do I need to ease into a longer run before I start getting after some harder paces? How long should my warmup miles last, and what pace should they be? This run proved that I can start off with just a couple miles at a pace that might be a little faster than I’ve generally started out with – 7:20 instead of 7:30 or even 7:40 – and still have plenty left in the tank for those later miles.
With these two milestones out of the way – breaking into the 5′s for multiple miles and hitting an overall sub-7 pace for a doube-digit run – I don’t have anything left to prove to myself before my half-marathon in three weeks. I know what I am capable of, and now it just has to come together on race day – something that would be a small miracle in itself!