By my plan, I needed to get in five miles today. Since I’m sorta drawing from three or four similar training plans, I reviewed them all to see what the goals ought to be 2.5 weeks out from the race. One plan had “6 miles total, 4 @ HMP”, which intrigued me. Hmm… my half-marathon pace is slated at 10:15… I could do five miles at that in an hour, easy… and I think I could maintain that time…okay, that’s the plan.
Then I thought – is there a way I could do six?
I checked my calendar. Bookended meetings, to be sure, but there was a lovely 90 minutes free between morning and afternoon. I’ve got the flexibility to make up time before and after official hours, so if I added a mile, I’d have some buffer time built in… why not just decide on the fly?
I’d already been managing my food all morning (that’s been an issue past few weeks, so being VERY CAREFUL to eat a good amount of run fuel), so I thought I’d be okay. Chowed a cheese stick while I changed, and stuck a Gu in my skirt pocket. Chose not to carry water, since there’s four easy fountains on this route. Okay, got Gu, got a water plan, got hat, got watch – GO!
I set my watch to show lap pace for the first mile, to try and get a handle on the going-out-too-fast issue. That helped me be aware of it, but it was calculating wild swings as it locked on to satellites (I assume – or it was just having a day. Whatever.) so I switched back to the regular display. It’s easy enough to gauge 10-minute-mile pace in the first couple miles from a total time and a distance display, right? Even so, with trying to pay attention, my first split came in a bit too fast. But it didn’t feel awful – that’s a good sign. I dialed it back for a little bit and that worked.
Almost to the three mile mark, I ran into a colleague I hadn’t seen in years. Loved the chance to stop and catch up! (She retired! How had I not known? Must pay attention more.) Quick sweaty hug after a few minutes’ chat, then back to it. I was only about 50 feet from the water fountain, so I pounded my Gu while I walked that bit.
Next up was The Hill Mile, but I felt good. My pace was still super-fast, so I knew I’d be fine to take the extra minute on this mile. Except – I didn’t need it. I RAN THE WHOLE THING. First time! No stops, no walks, just kept moving forward. I teased myself out – you can walk when you get to the corner. No, you can walk when you get to the bridge. No, you’ve gotten this far, you can make it to the stoplight.
So now, it’s decision time. Five miles, or six? I checked my watch – I only needed to add about .6 miles to the straight-in route to hit six. Time was still really good – no danger of being late. Okay, go for six! Detoured into a neighborhood to add some distance. I thoroughly enjoy watching the houses in the area go through their seasonal changes, watch the enhancements, the new paint jobs, the gardening projects, all of it. I hadn’t run through this area in several months, so the differences were obvious.
Almost done… and it occurred to me – wait, just need two-tenths for a 10k. You don’t have a time for a 10k. Why not? I started looping through the last few blocks like a playlist on repeat, watching the distance on my watch until I saw it turn to that magical “6.20”. Timer off, gasp, walk, check the time – NO WAY. I really just did that in 59:38? LESS THAN ONE HOUR???
Cue major giddiness. Cue coworkers asking where the bear came from that must have been chasing me.
Lots of wins in this run:
- The Hill Mile? Yep. I’ll say it again: RAN THE WHOLE THING. Didn’t stop even once. Yet another first/PR!
- Didn’t get distracted at the running store when I grabbed water, either. ;)
- I think this qualifies as my first (accidental) tempo run. And check out those last 2 miles!
- Not to mention, since I have no 10K races under my belt, that makes for an instant – if unofficial – PR!
So. The morning after. Ouch – I’m super-sore and my legs were twitchy all night, so I gave up on sleep at 4:00 am. I REALLY must take the time to stretch or cool down or something after runs. However, the particular logistical shenanigans required to use an only-slightly-extended lunch break to run for a full sixty minutes AND still clean up (thank you, baby wipes) and be on time to the post-lunch meeting don’t really bode well for any after-sixty-minutes-running ramping down, unfortunately – so I don’t see a lot more six-mile lunch runs in my near future. But it felt important to get this one in, to make the miles for this week, and also to clear my head after a particularly challenging assignment (note to self – brainstorming sessions are aptly named, they can be of varying strength from showers to hurricanes and usually have a lot of aftermath to clean up).
But what strikes me about this run is that I set a stretch goal, with several truly-legitimate opportunities to reduce it, and I chose to hit it. CHOOSING to hit the goal I set, especially in athletic endeavors, has never been my strength. The giddiness I had from hitting this run lasted ALL STINKING DAY (just ask my co-workers) and through the night. I’m still giddy, actually – just a tad more tempered in my expression of it.
Today, I will run three very-slow very-easy miles on that lunch break. And I will savor every minute of it.