I have two runs to talk about, each of them really great, with high highs and not very bad lows. But they are completely different, two vastly different endpoints of the same long road.
Friday, I ran 5 miles. I’m still a bit unbelieving that my ‘twice a week’ run is now a distance I once called a long training run, and wanted to emphasize that by running one of my old routes. I would start out at the RAC after work, and run home, just about exactly 5 miles door-to-door.
Or I would have, if I hadn’t gotten the following text message at 3:45pm
Weather for Fri, 04/15:Partly Cloudy and Windy, and 53 ° F. Start run @4:30. Text time to <e-mail redacted> CU@Falls.
Oh, son of crap I forgot my weekly 5k! It starts in 45 minutes! I frantically texted my (beautiful, wonderful, supportive) wife, and she offered to leave work early (knowing she’d have to make up the time working at home) and drop off my running gear.
She pulled up at 4:20 or so, and I *hurled* myself into my clothes in a restroom, and dumped my bag in her trunk, and took off running right from the front door of my building. She had an MMA class starting at 6pm, so I have 1 hour, meaning that I had to be economical with my time (5 miles in an hour is about my ‘slow run’ pace.) so I resolved to run the 5 miles as a warmup run to Fallsports, the FAC 5k, and then tack on whatever I needed to get to 5miles.
The warmup was definitely a brisk warmup, somewhere in the 10:30 pace for the less-than-a-mile out to Fallsports. It was a cold, somewhat blustery day (though nowhere near as windy as my 10 miles, Sunday!). The extra motivation of trying to keep Steph on schedule, along with the naturally motivating feel of this little weekly ‘race’, was enough that I pounded out each successive mile faster and faster. Each lap of Shemansky Park was burned though in what felt, previously, like an unachieveble time. My 5k time was 30:43, a pace of 9:53.
I was elated. I stopped to breathe, thinking I would run out my remaining ~1.25 miles at a nice slow pace along the neighborhood streets, and just bask in that great 5k time, maybe mentally plan out a 5k race to run to get that PR ‘officially’ on the books. But as I stopped to breathe, my coworker Mahmoud came up behind me, on his last lap, on pace to do a 25 min 5k! I ran alongside him, rather than taking my planned breather, and ran that lap faster than the ones before it. And then, instead of wandering off at the end of that lap, he hung in another lap to motivate me, and that resulted in my last mile being just as fast as the previous 4. When I ran up to the car in the CVS parking lot, drenched in sweat and breathing hard, I saw that the overall pace for the 5 miles had been 9:54. I had just run 5 miles in < 50 minutes.
I knew immediately that I probably shouldn’t have done it. My legs didn’t hurt, and my body felt fine, but there’s some kind of fail-safe deep in the system somewhere that was throwing switches and declaring maintenance operations to begin. I sat in the gym during Stephanie’s MMA class, relaxing at one of the tables, and I thought about my 10 mile run, about what I’d heard about the importance of recovery time, and all the things I had learned second hand. I wondered if I was going to learn some of it first hand when I woke up on Sunday and tried to repeat my double digit run from last week.
Saturday flew by, and my legs seemed to recover.
I was excited for my 10 mile run, and got outside with fewer psychological games than in the 9 mile weeks. It was a very windy day here in the Midwest, with constant winds out of the west of 20mph and gusts up to 30mph, so I did the sensible thing and ran as much as I could in the shelter of the trees of the Lower Huron Metropark. Dressed more like I had for a winter run, I felt a little pang of ‘backsliding’ as I set out the door, but I never felt the urge to swap out my pullover for the pair of armwarmers I packed into the bag.
Last week when I ran 10, it was 5 out, and 5 back, with no real warm up and cooldown. The garmin measured a 10.77 course, some of which was building interference error, and some of it was correcting for lost time under multi-level streets. But I certainly didn’t tack on my customary 1-1.5 miles of warmup/cooldown. Sunday, I did more than that. Half mile to the front of my neighborhood, and that planned route through the metro park would end at least ~1.25 miles from home. The warmup felt right as rain, though I think I’m starting to feel the age of my shoes (they’re past the 250mile and up at the 300mile mark!). The wind pushed me out and up along my course, on the busy streets to the Metropark. During the 4 mile stretch through the park that wind was basically was mitigated by the trees and the riverside setting of the Lower Huron course. As I exited the park down at the bottom, I felt a sense of exhiliration; I had never run this far through this park. I had run 7 miles once inside the park, but I had been dropped off right at the entrance. Running the whole length of the park after making it to the entrance, I was eager to run the road outside and head back home. That 10 mile route was something I once plotted on a map looking for something longer than 3 miles, and laughed breezily at, thinking I would never do.
The run up Haggerty was north and slightly west, and the wind was pushing hard against me. A few times I jumped off the road long enough to let a car pass rather than risk being blown into their path. I had my third and final gu at mile 8, and put my head into that wind for another double digit finish. I maintained an 11:00 pace for the whole run, struggling against the wind, but never stopping or taking a break during the 10 mile route.
When that 10 miles was over, on the other hand, my tired legs and fighting against the wind conspired to make it a very long trip back to the house. Where previously I have run most of the cooldown, Sunday I estimate I ran half of it. The headwind heading west was actually enough to stop me dead in my tracks once or twice. I flopped in the door and had some solid food and a glass of milk.
I’m amazed how different these two runs are, how my body reacted to them, and how it feels to have them behind me. I’m proud of both of these runs, and both of them were successful. The speed of the Friday run is not something I intend to repeat until after my half marathon, but it was elating to feel myself move that fast. And the 10 mile run, even with the hard finish, was a big confidence booster; I only have 2 more long runs, and if the worst result I have is that it gets hard after I stop my course, I’ll take it!
In just a few weeks I expect myself to run 13.1 miles, and with the training of the next two weeks, and a nice responsible taper for the two weeks after that, I think I will have all the energy and motivation I need to do it.
26 days to the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.