So I'm normally not too afraid of workouts. I like a good hard track workout most of the time, or some tough intervals in the pool or on the bike. But I tell you what...one workout that gets in my head, pretty much every time I see it on the log?
The long run with race pace.
Now, I also know that this is the MOST IMPORTANT run I can do, since I am an admitted head case on race day. Practicing race pace, and in the middle of a long run to boot, is something that I seriously benefit from. However, when I see it looming on the horizon, the wimpy TST on my shoulder starts messing with me. All week.
Last year, I remember doing some race pace miles in the middle of long runs and thinking the world might end. And they were definitely tough, but I was able to hit most of them.
This year, I already said I'm going big. So that means that race pace miles are going to have to be, like, fast and stuff.
Prior to December 2011, my 5K PR had me holding no better than 7:42/miles. That was my PR for 9 freaking years. Now, part of that is because I suck at pacing myself. Big time. But nonetheless, when I saw 40 minutes at race pace--sub 8!-- in the middle of a 1:40 run, I kind of freaked out.
And that was before I got sick.
Yes, I got sick about Tuesday, which I tried vehemently to convince myself was JUST! ALLERGIES! but alas, it was not. I got some kind of a secondary infection that was in my chest and just ROTTEN. I probably should have stayed home from school on Wednesday, but I was hoping to just soldier through. Well, that backfired because at about 1am Thursday morning I knew there was NO way on God's green earth I could function at school and I had to take a sick day the day before vacation. Also known as Indians Home Opener, or a National Holiday in Cleveland. Which finally made me look like the shadiest character alive, but there IS A PAPER TRAIL to the doctor's office which DID INVOLVE a Z-pack so I swear on my life I was seriously sick.
Now, how on earth was I going to do this run? On antibiotics? Coughing up a lung?
The TST Wimp kept appearing and whispering in my ear. You can't. You can't. You CAN'T seriously hold a pace that is not much off your old 5K pace for 40 minutes. No way, phlegm-filled sloth. Nowaynowaynowaaaaayyyy.
So of course I freaked out. Emailed Coach Emily and asked her if I have any business going for this goal right now...I mean, I've kind of got a lot going on....maybe I should not try something this aggressive?
As usual, she knew exactly what to say, which was a verbal kick in the pants. That going from 1:47 to 1:29 would be too aggressive, but 1:47 to 1:42 and change is not. That it will be and is supposed to be hard sometimes, and that I need to roll with it and focus on what I can do in that moment.
So I did.
I linked up with some of my new running friends at the new lunch table and we set out for 12 miles. I was able to talk one girl, Laura, into the pickups with me but given my cough was still pretty rough told her let's shoot for 4 miles instead of the 40 minutes. That way I could still work hard but listen to my body, which was still screaming for a little respect. Laura's pretty badass and has ran Boston and also can bust out a super fast 5K, so for her it wasn't as big of a deal. For me? I was going to be clinging on for dear life.
We ran 5 miles at about 9s or so, and then I said, "okay, let's go" about as un-convincing as you can...so we took off.
You know what?
I effing killed it.
Seriously, I was in disbelief while I was running because it definitely felt tough, but doable. Not impossible. And this was a good confidence boost, since I was super tired, all drugged up on antibiotics and antihistamines, and just in general not in race form. So for 4 miles we went 8:00, 7:56, 7:49, and 7:59 (slight uphill for the last 1/2 mile or so). And then I did mad dances of joy in my head, and continued running home nice and easy with Anne, Michelle, and Laura at a pace a little over 9s for a total of 13--yes, 13!--miles in 1:53.
No big deal.
This was huge. I still have a playlist on my iPod that is called "1:54 or bust" from when I tried to break 1:55 in the half marathon for so long.
I am pretty happy to have come such a long way in a few years, here. Hopefully this will continue and I can keep tweaking stuff and working hard to shattering the 1:47 I have standing right now.
Bring it, yo.