A lot of people find it surprising that I train primarily alone. I have a training partner for my easy days, and Dave joins me for at least half of my long run mileage, but for my workouts I am mostly solo. I actually really like it this way. I don’t have to worry about being late to the track, I know that my motivation to do speed work is 100% internal, and I never get sucked into someone else’s good or bad day.
That being said, I’m also at that awkward point in my training where speed workouts are getting to be pretty hard, and I’ve also been grinding for a while now. So, when I was looking at my week ahead and saw 6 x mile and a 6 mile tempo @ 5:30, I immediately went into how-do-I-make-this-week-suck-less mode.
The mile repeats were something I knew I would just have to get through. For a long time I have felt like mile repeats have been hit or miss for me. When they go well, they are spectacular. When they blow up, it’s a big ugly mess. Fortunately, these went really well and I went 5:12, 5:09, 5:12, 5:09, 5:09, 5:07. Super success that also left me SUPER tired.
6 miles at 5:30 pace would automatically equate to a 10k PR, so it really only made sense to look for a 10k race. The problem? Finding a 10k. I have already done a 4 mile and a 5 mile tempo this training cycle, so I really wanted to hit the full 6 miles and not simply opt for a 5k. I’m kind of neurotic like that. There was a 10k in Lexington, but I’m paranoid about running into an ex boyfriend down there. There was a 4.1 mile race in Columbus, OH, but I really wanted to hit at least 6 miles. There was a 10k in Chicago, but the weather up north can be hit or miss. The only other 10k I could find was in Evansville, which is 3 hours south of Indy. Ideal? no….but, also sounded better than running a solo PR in the wind. It turns out this was a fantastic decision, as Thursday (the day I would have done the tempo) I was EXHAUSTED still from the mile repeats, and there were 40 mph wind gusts. Unless I had run indoors, there was probably no way I was going to hit my splits.
So, I headed down to Evansville Friday night. I’m going to be real: I needed a night in a hotel bed without snoring dogs and humans. I had the best night of sleep in weeks.
This morning I woke up very well rested and had time to chill before heading over to University of Southern Indiana, where the race was held. I did my warm up and went to the line and noticed a group of men clearly talking about me and motioning in my direction. Being the awkward person that I am, I waved. After that, one of the men came over and introduced himself to me. I shit you not, the weirdest things in the world happen to me. Apparently I had posted something on facebook that led people to believe I thought this was going to be a fast course, and I guess it rubbed some people the wrong way. What I *actually* meant was that this race tends to be competitive, with quite a few people running between 35 – 40 minutes. So, after this man introduces himself to me he says that he heard I thought this was a fast course and he only showed up so that he could witness my rude awakening. . __ .
Dave and I had actually run on the trail before so I did know that it was quite hilly. I could tell you how hilly it was, or I could just show you the elevation map:
Since I’m 3 weeks out from my final race of the season, my goal truly was to just tempo. I don’t need any Herculean efforts right now, and I was a little bit concerned how the hills would affect me. I told myself to just stay within the 5:20 – 5:30 range, and definitely not to go out faster than 5:20!
First mile: 5:20. There was a man ahead of me until ~2k. After that, I was solo, and I wound up winning by ~60 seconds. I guess I had hoped for a little bit more competition, as it did mostly end up being a solo tempo after all. At the same time, though, I worked on something that is tough for me in races: pushing when I’m uncomfortable. My second mile was 5:25, then a 5:30. I think my next mile was a 5:27, but mile 5 was a 5:55, as I climbed that big hill. When I had 2k to go I had the decision to make: do I coast in, knowing that I’ve won, or do I keep pushing? This is where the difference lies for me in races and workouts. For some reason, it’s harder for me to give up in workouts than it is in races. I’m glad I had this opportunity to ask myself that question today and force myself to push. The next mile was 5:27, and I wound up finishing in 34:26 , which is a 15 second PR (I mistakenly said 34:21 earlier before I had seen the official results). This kind of makes me want to run a 10k on the track and see how fast I can really go.
Given the solo effort and the hills, I’m super happy with today. My last tempo was 5 miles at 5:27 on a completely flat out-and-back crushed gravel trail. I feel like this race shows that my fitness is continuing to improve. I’ve also got tired legs, as today capped off another 95 mile stretch.
Afterwards, I did a 4 mile cool down and then waited for awards. After that, I decided to do another 8 miles before driving home, to get in 20 for the day. I mean, might as well, right?