I discovered that I am an 8:30/mile runner. Even toward the end, the last leg, with my IT band flaring, I was doing at least 8:45. How the hell do I do that?
I set out to do at least 5 miles, knowing the last route I'd taken would get me that far. I added to it, doing part of the route I did with my friend Katie* the first time we ran together (and the first time I did 5 miles). Combining the two routes seemed a good path to follow.
I checked my pace at the beginning, hoping to keep at about 9/mile so that I wouldn't tire too quickly. I was shocked to see the park when I did, and when I looked at my Garmin, it read 2.64 miles at barely over 23 minutes, showing a pace of about 8:24. Dude! I was so pleased, I threw my arms into the air and started walking in celebration. An odd celebration, yes, but, I was so pleased to not be gasping for air, thinking my legs would fall off, and wishing the whole thing would be over soon - it was such a great feeling! Do you know what 8:30/mile feels like? Power. That was the recurring thought in my mind as I ran this morning.
I set out to run and just be gone for a while this morning. I figured I wanted to enjoy this sunny, warm-ish (read: not snowing, raining, freezing, and above 50 degrees) morning and see where my feet took me. With my play list adjusted slightly, I took off from the house, with a gentle breeze blowing and the sun trying to warm my skin. It was really a great start.
I checked my pace a couple times in the first mile, and was able to keep at about 8:45/9. I tried to keep it there and think I did so most of that first mile. I wasn't concerned with a great time this morning, thus the desire to slow it down a bit. I was more interested in the distance and not having to walk half of it.
I did my first mile to the walking path (1 mile), then rounded the path (3/4 mile) and headed east. There's a slight incline on this route but you wouldn't have known it the way I was feeling. My plan was to turn around when I reached the park, and when I got there and saw how fast I was going, I was so darn excited! So much for slow, right? I didn't realize I was keeping such a pace after I finished the walking path. I didn't think about it, I didn't try to slow down or speed up, I just ran. It was an amazing feeling. I celebrated by letting myself walk a bit. Instead of just turning around, I saw the way around the park and picked it up again and ran the perimeter of the park, and headed back west.
By this point, I was really just in this for distance, regardless of how I reached it. I ran all the way back to the walking path and didn't want to head home. So I headed west a bit through some more neighborhood streets. Before I knew it, I was virtually flying. Once I hit mile 4, I felt like I had wings on my feet and the Black Eyed Peas helped me push myself through my fastest mile of the morning. At one point I looked at the Garmin and the number in the pace block started with a 7 and I felt that high, that excitement, that awesome feeling of achievement. It was the best part of the whole run.
I tried to get to the 8K distance beating my PR of 44:24 from the Shamrock Shuffle. I tried. Here's where this whole running thing gets mental, though. After seeing how far I'd gone, how fast I'd gone, and looking at what was before me (a 3/4 mile path dotted with goose poop and Sunday walkers), my brain started to talk to me. I set milestones. "Just get to that garbage can", "make it to that large crack in the pavement", "you can get to the bend up ahead". Then I'd look at the Garmin. 4.54.....4.63......4.72.....4.80.....4.85.....just...a....little.....bit...farther......
Honestly, when I know how fast I'm going, how much farther 'til my goal, and how much I've got behind me, it messes with my head. Big time. I can't stand that. I finally walked at 4.87-ish and completed an 8K distance some time after 45 minutes. By then, I didn't care what the damn watch said. I know I can do it. I can go that far. I can run that fast. I can get there when I damn well please.
With the 3/4 path before me, and another mile or so to get back home, I knew I'd go as *far* as I set out to, and it didn't matter how long it took me. So I ran some more. Just some. After that mile 4, I'd kind of done more than I'd expected of myself. Then it happened. The IT bands made themselves known. Aw crap!
I hobbled bits of the walking path, trying not to look like Frankenstein dragging one leg behind me. This was craptastic.
I finished the path and ran to the busy intersection, and then stopped at some green utility thing sticking out of the ground and stretched the leg. I gave it some time, rather than rushing through, and it did seem to feel better.
That last mile home, bands screaming, wasn't my best. It was worlds away from the 4th mile. That didn't matter. After walking about 1/4 of it, I decided to just suck it up and do my best to jog/run slow/do anything but walk the rest of the way home. And that's just what I did. At about 8:45/mile. Dude. Really.
I normally turn the corner to my street and sprint past the three driveways to mine before throwing my arms in the air and (hopefully) remembering to stop the Garmin. Not this morning. I just ran. It felt good. It felt powerful.
I passed my driveway and remembered to stop the Garmin. The time said 1:07:16. The distance was 6.47 miles. I had officially run longer than ever before, feeling better than ever before, and feeling proud of myself for it. After being in a total funk this week, only getting one run in during the week, I really didn't set out this morning thinking I'd get that far. But I did. And it felt great.
I got inside and was greeted by Ethel's toothless smile, eyes beaming, telling me, "Come look at the dining room table, Mommy!". She had put all the Mother's Day cards she and Fred made me, as well as the potted marigold she planted for me, on the dining room table. She included three beautiful pictures she'd drawn for me while I was out.
|I love you|
|You are best|
|You are pritty|
I didn't think I could smile bigger than I did after this morning's run. But I did. I love that little girl.
*Names have been changed because that's what you do when you talk about people on the internet.