Friday, February 11, 2011

On the Road Again

"You have to erect a fence and say, Okay, scale this." **Linda Ronstadt**
     My running schedule has been so erratic lately. I tend to decide on the spur of the moment what distance I will run. I can plan which days I will run versus spin or weights, but I have been going by feel when it comes to the decision to do intervals, long slow distance, tempo, etc. The weather also plays into the decision, but I have no hard and fast rule for what temperature is my breaking point.

     Wednesday I decided to take advantage of lovely weather and run the flight line. I figured I could run the 6 mile loop and then do 4 more on an out and back to get in a 10 miler. As I approached the 5 mile mark I decided that even though I felt great if I went all the way back to the gym I would likely talk myself out of the last 4 miles. I decided to do an about face at 5 miles and retraced my steps. This was going to be my longest road run in 7 months! The last time I went over 6 miles was my farewell run on The Noland Trail back in early July, so once I had covered the first mile on the trip back, every step was shiny and new.

     I love the feeling of accomplishment when I hit the stop button on my Garmin at the end of a successful run. As I planted my feet in front of the gym I felt fantastic to have finally accomplished a double digit road distance again, but the real thrill came when I got home and uploaded the record to the computer. I didn’t know at all what my pace was because I decided at the start to only go by heart rate and had forgotten to reset my Garmin.

  Once I had deleted the extraneous laps, my pace popped up as exactly 10 mpm mile. Not 10:03, not 9:59, but exactly 10:00 even! I thought I must be looking at it wrong to get such a precise time, but the splits added up. When I was running into the wind, I averaged 10:30 mpm and running with the wind I averaged 9:30, but it all broke even at the end. I could definitely have run it faster. There were times when I noticed my heart rate was around 10 beats per minute lower than my target and I push a bit more, but by the end I was coasting a lot and letting my heart rate stay down.

     That was my fastest pace ever for a long slow distance run and has been my goal pace for those runs for a long time. I am so excited to be at this point! In December of 2008, I ran my first 5K with a less than 10 mpm pace and was over the moon. I had pushed myself to my limit that day, maxing my heart rate in the last moments and nearly throwing up on the poor guy removing my chip. If someone had told me I would be able to run that pace comfortably, for more than 3 times the distance, in little more than 26 months, I would have thought they were selling some kind of fake miracle juice!

     No miracles here, just hard work. In the world of running 6 mph pace for a long run is nothing to get excited about, but in the little world that is just me running for me, it is Olympian!

     Next up is a 10K. I think instead of setting a specific time goal, I will just watch my heart rate and do my best. With a little luck I’ll remember to look at the clock at the end!


robison52 said...

The only way I can get a perfect 10:00 minute pace is on the treadmill! You worked very hard to get that faster pace for your long slow runs and it appears your body is starting really improve; sounds like you're going to have a very successful 2011!!

C. Beth said...

That's so encouraging to me. I'm about where you were 2 years ago--just recently started being able to do 5Ks at sub-10:00 pace. I can't believe how much faster I am than I was last year, and your post encourages me that maybe before too long I'll be doing long runs at that pace too!