Things in life are as usual. Busy and fumbling and happy and silly. We celebrated our first anniversary and we’re also preparing to celebrate the end of the dreaded second grade year. Because life is busy and continuous, some goals don’t always progress in a manner that’s worth sharing. Take my running. I’m still running. Yup, that about sums it up. Nothing changing and nothing progressing but the fact of the matter is, I still run. I’m still trucking along each week trying to survive each run and make it to the next.
So when I ran this weekend with my group, it was like any other day. I needed the run, I wanted more miles, and I felt ready to go for it. Plus, it was a route that was easily adjustable for whatever you needed, mileage-wise. Lately my weekend runs have been 6 miles and my weekday runs have been anywhere before 4.5-5 miles. But after a long week that was stressful, I very much wanted some quiet time to myself and some added mileage to really sweat out all that was worrying.
I arrived on time and was met with a few runners. The group was smaller than usual but I didn’t mind. I was setting my own pace and planned to just truck along without worrying about others and keeping up with them. We took off together and I fell back a bit, trying to keep a moderate pace of 11.5 min/mile. I had noticed the last two times out that I was slowing down around the 3 mile marker and I didn’t want that to happen so I paced myself and tried to remind myself to slow down and not to overdo it. I was looking for stamina, not speed. Especially since I was attempting my first 7 mile run since I was injured in 2013.
I mentally prepped myself to head out 3.5 miles and then turn back to finish up a round trip of 7 miles. Having this in mind, I challenged myself to run the first 3.5 miles without walking and to use my 4:1 interval program on the turn 3.5 miles back. As we set off, I felt good. no aches or pains and no tummy issues. I noticed I wasn’t overly tired nor was I aching to be finished. I was honestly excited to run and to have this “me time”.
The first 3.5 miles seemed to go by in a flash. Sooner than I expected I was turning around and heading back. My 5k time was about 33:30, a great time! As I passed my 3 mile marker I knew I just had to push to my 3.5 and then I got to turn around and walk/run the rest of the way home. Reaching 3.5 miles, I turned around and used my 1 minute walking interval to stretch my shoulders (which were really bothering me, oddly) and congratulated myself on my first leg of the route. As my app notified me of my next interval, a 4 mile steady, I took off towards my starting point. Then something clicked, I ran for 4 minutes and heard the ping to start my walk but I didn’t feel I needed it. So I continued to run. Then I ran some more. Soon, I was 0.5 miles away from my finish line and I was still running!!!!
My first time out for a 7 mile run and it also turned into my first time running without using my walking intervals! I ran continuous with little to no problems and finished my run with a great, consistent pace!!!
And as I approached my car I felt that if I really wanted to, I could continue to run further but instead I took that as a good sign to stop so I could stretch before I injured myself. I kept looking at my map and my phone just in a stunned silence. I couldn’t believe I had actually done something I never thought I could do. A sustained long run of over 5 miles or more! The only walking I did was at my turn around point when I took a minute to relieve some tension in my shoulders.
Something that had been worrying me was my pace. With my last two runs being sluggish and painful to finish, I was worried I was over doing it in the first 3 miles, making the last 2-3 miles unbearable. I’ve even considered some kind of watch like a Garmen that will warn me when I’m running too fast or too slow. I currently use an app that will notify me of my pace at each half mile marker but won’t call out when I’m speeding up or slowing down. But my splits show that I ran pretty consistently, staying somewhere between 10.5 min/mile and 11.5 min/mile. To see my splits all beaming a sub 12 min/mile pace is amazing to me, the anti-runner. I’m running at a pace that is consistently faster than I could have ever imagined.
To say I’m happy is an understatement. I’m thrilled. Overjoyed. Speechless!!! I’m looking forward to my next Saturday morning run when I can, again, run my longer distance and see how my pace will be then. Will I keep this up? Is it a fluke? Is this my new baseline to compare all my other running to? Who knows! I’m just excited to have the proof in writing that I can run consistently and I can run more than 5 miles. I’m half way to my training goal of 13 miles before my half marathon in November!