Off to the races

I haven’t run a race since my 5k on my birthday in July. That seems unusual, given how this part of the year is packed with road racing, and blessed with great weather. It’s just how it worked out after I hit my 5k goal and started looking for Half Marathons that excited me.

Now, alongside the buildup of the fall marathon season, I have my fall half marathon season. The Brooksie Way Half this coming Sunday is my first ‘casual’ or checkpoint half. I’m running it to add a notch to my belt rather than to achieve something. Then, in the PR conducive weather of November, on the flat, fast roads of Ohio, I’m running the Stomp The Grapes Half Marathon. That is my target race, there is where I want to put the hammer down and run faster than a 10 minute pace.

Yes, my target for my next PR is set! I’m going to run a 2:11 or better. I’m comfortable with that goal, and think that, like all my other goals until now, that it’s achievable with only a continuation of my current fitness track. No need for a revolutionary change, or a huge stretch for this accomplishment. And considering that’s faster by over 30s/mile, I think it’s enough improvement for a six month period.

It’s actually hard not to get drunk on the heady feeling of improvement, to say, “Wow, I can do a 10min/mile half easily, maybe I should shoot for a 9/mile”. But I know in my heart that would be wrong for me, and wrong for my body. Running the amount I have has given me tremendous rewards, physical and mental. That has been, in no small part, because I’ve been willing to let the improvements come as they come. Speed, such as it is, has snuck up on me. Last Friday, for example, I gave my best effort to a Friday 5k, and ran a 25:29, a 5k pace I couldn’t even have dreamed of when I ran my first 5k a year ago at 38:24. So I will pass over the tempting elixir of overreaching, and kepe my head down and my feet focused on a 13.1 mile performance in 131 minutes.

To make this happen of course, it takes more than wishing to make it so. I’ve been following a 4 day/week training plan of one easy run, one interval run (alternating between hill repeats and Nx800 intervals), my Friday 5k (a sort of tempo run, 1 mile w/u, 1 mile c/d, 5k), and the staple long run on the weekends. The plan had begun with 5 days, but it was too much mileage, and my long run suffered at least one week because of it. Coming to today, only a few days before the checkpoint race, I feel good about the plan. Every long run since that rough week has been strong, with a 10min performance in my 13.2 a week ago. Conditions, good attention to course use.

All this said (and, written in ink, as it were) I will take the Brooksie this weekend as a bellwether race. If I get close to the 10/mile mark in this run, I’m going to have to revise my target, go faster, because Brooksie is known to be a ‘challenging’ (read: sadistic) course, with some serious hills. Short of a real explosion, I don’t *think* I’d revise my goal down, because based on that training run last week, I feel like a 2:11 StompTheGrapes is a realistic expectation.

Question: What am I going to do when all this weight is off, and my body stops seeing the dramatic improvement of cutting an athlete out of a sloth?

Answer: I’m going to be very, very happy. And keep running.

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2 responses to “Off to the races

  1. “I’ve been willing to let the improvements come as they come. Speed, such as it is, has snuck up on me.”
    A kindred spirit indeed! I think those words are the keys to a lifetime of running. Keep it simple, and reap the rewards. All the gadgets and training plans have their place, but the bottom line is: just run. And don’t forget to have fun.

    • Glad you think I’m on to something, here. Of course, I won’t be giving up my Garmin or my training log anytime soon, but it’s nice to look at them as a whole and see how the trend is upward (in speed & miles!)

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