Wednesday. Wisdom day. I’ll come up with something wise later, right now I’m too busy jumping up and down because last night I ran a mile in 11:05! That’s great for me. We had our first mileage test last night at practice. I actually flunked the test, but who cares?!?! I ran an 11:05!
It was hot and humid last night so I was going to take my workout to the gym but as usual I procrastinated the whole day (actually was working) so by the time 6 p.m. rolled around I figured I might as well get some practice in the heat and went up to suffer with my fellow teammates.
It was a short workout. Our goal was to run one mile twice with recovery in between at our best race pace. The trick was the second mile had to be done in the same time (or few seconds less) than the first mile. If you were 10-15 seconds or more slower on the second mile you “flunked” and have to work more on your pacing. If you were more than 15 seconds faster you also have to work on your pacing.
We started at Bethesda and did a warmup jog to tavern on the green. There is a 1 mile marker at 64th street (finally actually saw where it is). They broke us up into pace groups so I was with the 12 minutes+ group. When we started there were about 6 of us (out of about 25) who took off and separated quickly from the rest of the 12+ group. Fairly quickly I was running by myself. The other five pulled farther and farther away from me until I knew I wouldn’t catch them. I figured they were in the wrong group.
It was hot and I was ready to be exhausted, but strangely, I wasn’t. I was waiting for the prickly heat, but it didn’t come. So, I just tried to run as fast as I could maintaining a deep effort level 3. (To illustrate that level of breath you are supposed to hold your breath for 30 seconds — when you let it out that is how deep you should be breathing for effort level 3). I think I was running a 3+, 4- (look at me with different effort levels!!)
When I got to the carousel I saw all the people that had taken off ahead of me. Everyone single one of them had stopped and started walking. I was fine and kept going. I really, really wanted to catch them and pass them but I was already running as fast as I could and just when I thought I could catch them they started running again. So their final times had to be around 10:50 including their walking so I know they were probably running at a 10 when they started. I got to the 1 mile marker and slammed the brakes on my watch 11:05!! The coach knew from Sunday that I wanted to break 11:30 so he seemed happy for me.
Now we had to slow our run down to recovery level so when we got to the 1 mile marker again our breathing would 100% normal — effort level 0. Almost everyone was walking. I found it harder to actually walk so I did a baby jog just to keep my legs in motion.
One of the things the coaches had said before we started was to build up our pace. Like a car, you don’t just go 0-50 in 10 seconds. You build it up slowly until you get to 50 and then you sustain it. He told us to do the same thing and use lampposts as our guides, gently accelerating one lamppost at a time until we got to our pace and then hold it. As I was recovering from the first mile, I realized I didn’t really do that and made a note to try that for the second mile.
So when I got to the second mile marker (now I had passed everybody from my group because they were all walking) I started slower. Every second lamppost I asked myself could I go a little faster? The answer was yes. So I increased my effort ever so slightly. By the time I was about 1/2 mile in, I was still increasing. Then I hit the little incline on the east side near the carousel. I realized I could have been going faster all along. Now on the incline I plowed through.
It was strange. I was breathing deeply, but nothing in my legs hurt anywhere. This was a new feeling for me. It almost felt like my legs were not even there. The only limitation I had was my breathing and even that was not actually “hurting” I just didn’t want to go beyond the level he told us to go. I kept worrying. I was thinking how can this be? Why am I not passing out? It was very hot. Lots of people were walking. (Tons of people were running, but they were the real runners so I don’t compare myself to them.) My time for the second mile was 11:35 and I know I could have finished faster had I started faster. I had tons of energy left when I was finished. We recovered back to the starting point so our full workout was only 3.4 miles. It was fun though.
So of course all night I kept thinking about how could I go faster? What if the weather had been better? What if I had been lighter? Maybe I could get a faster foot rotation if I tried. I was happy all night that I did that 11:05 because it opens up a world of possibilities and hope for my running. If I get fitter and lighter maybe a 10:30 is around the corner. (I ran a 10:39 once two years ago and it has never been close to being repeated so I figure they must have timed me wrong.) I felt so happy that it didn’t bother me that my opponent never showed up to my tennis match last night (I won by default). There was terrible traffic over the Queens Borough Bridge last night. It was 11:30 and they closed down too many lanes. Everybody was honking and yelling and cutting each other off. I just sat there and let everyone cut in — I didn’t care — I had run an 11:05! Life is Good!
So I guess my words of wisdom today are just because you flunked the test doesn’t mean you can’t pass the course. Even in failure there can be achievement.