Watching the Clock
I’ve mentioned before that I love statistics and thoroughly enjoy keeping track of my times, miles, totals, etc. The fact that I maintain Strava and Dailymile profiles should be evidence enough of that (feel free to click and follow me if you’d like!). With the numbers in the back of my mind, I’ve found myself in the past week getting a tad more antsy for my upcoming 50-mile trail race. Although I know that I’ve put in the miles and my training has gone well, I still just really want the race to get here! I may not be warding off the injury gremlin, but I’m still pacing back and forth in my head quite a bit. The fact that I’m of course tapering and thus running far fewer miles than I have been isn’t helping either. The weather has also been pretty darn gorgeous, especially with all of the fall colors, so I’ve wanted to run even more.
So, although my training plan called for relatively slow and comfortable runs of 7/5/7 this past week (Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday), I may have walked out the door on Wednesday afternoon intent on something different. Our neighborhood is pretty much the quintessential small town neighborhood with beautiful old-growth tree-lined streets and well-established homes. Just going for walks with the dog is enjoyable because it “feels” like a neighborhood is supposed to feel, or at least how I always assumed it should. I only had 5 miles on the schedule for Wednesday, so I wanted to experiment with running solely in the neighborhood, staying between two parallel streets 7 blocks apart. I figured I could run up and down the streets doing “neighborhood repeats” and see how many miles I could squeeze in before I got bored. I started out at a relatively comfortable pace as I planned out the moves in my head. However, after the first mile I was feeling really good. I hadn’t really run a 5k distance since my race this summer, and I was curious if my training had increased my speed anymore, despite no intentional speed work. Thus, I took off and pushed myself for the next 3.1 miles. It felt great to speed up and down the tree-lined streets, all of which were so quiet you’d hardly know anyone was living there. I kept an eye on my Garmin, and after running the math and cutting out my warm-up and cool-down distances, I had kicked out the 5k in 23:24, which was a new PR (non-race, of course). Well what do you know, eh?!
I was feeling pretty good about myself, and my legs still felt great later that night. This is good, since speed work a week and a half before an ultramarathon probably wasn’t my smartest move, but I did shorten my total distance to account for the speed, which helped quite a bit. The next day, I had 7 miles on the calendar at half-marathon pace, so I knew I could go a tad bit quicker. However, my brain has an uncanny ability to never shut off, so I still had the previous days 5K success on my mind. The 10K race has been one I’ve not run all that often and has become increasingly more awkward distance-wise as I’ve increased my mileage. I’m at the point now where I don’t really feel warmed up and fully comfortable until 5 miles in, which isn’t much good for a 6.2 mile race. However, I was feeling really energized and it was another gorgeous day, so I decided I’d give a 10K a try and see where I was at time-wise. My PR up to that point was 54:09, which is certainly respectable, but I felt like I had more in me now. I was right.
I hit my pace hard, and never really let up as I kept myself moving forward. I was paying more attention to my posture and stride, as well as my foot-strike, and it is still amazing to me how much of a different those adjustments have made. I hit the 6.2 mile mark and looked down at my watch to see 50:48 staring back at me. I had destroyed my previous PR! Alas, there was nobody around to hand me a medal, or announcement my name as I arrived at the finish line. I had to settle for some furry critters greeting me as I came back in the house with a smile on my face.
I suppose after I check this 50-miler off my list, I may need to register for a few more 5K and 10K races to make it official 🙂