I wrote at the beginning of this writing experiment that taking the winter off training usually leaves me chomping at the bit to kick off in the spring. I wrote that I wasn’t as antsy to get out there as previous winters because – while my mileage decreased significantly – I ran more this winter than the past two combined.
After today, I think things are looking up. I’d already been feeling better the last few weeks, as the weather started to turn a bit. I also finalized my race schedule, which always helps me to be accountable to my training.
I was struggling to come up for a realistic goal for the Shamrock Shuffle 8K this weekend. Though I had run on average 2-3 times a week over the winter, and 3-4 times a week over the past month, none of it was really focused on speed. I knew I’d be able to get it back somewhat quickly, but also didn’t think I’d be able to just jump right into where I left off last fall.
Naturally, I talked to my coach about this. We discussed a goal speed for the day – seeing as it is the unofficial kick off to my racing/training season, I threw out an 8:45/mile pace. I had recently PRed at the Turkey Trot 8K this past November running a 42:47, translating to an 8:36/mile. Last year I ran the Shamrock Shuffle an 8:55/mile pace. I figured given some loss of fitness over the winter, 8:45 would be a happy medium.
Not so! Kate was all “Um… that’s too easy for you. How about 8:30/mile pace?” I’m thinking, “Ummmmmmmm… I haven’t run faster than 9:15 in like three months… but sure thing!” Not to mention that this would be faster than my Turkey Trot PR when I was just coming off marathon training.
Because Kate told me I could do it, and so did my husband, I figured I should at least try – at the very least to show them that they were wrong. I had felt off and sleep deprived this week, my run on Friday was slow and a slog. I did not think it was going to be my day.
Fast forward to this morning, when the weather is absolutely perfect for running, I got a great night’s sleep last night and had an awesome warmup. With nothing to lose, I just went for it.
People who race in downtown Chicago know that GPS watches go a little haywire with all the underpasses and tall buildings. For longer races, it tends to even out around 4 miles when you get further away from the cluster, but during shorter races it is ridiculous. One mile, it reads at 11-minute pace, the next it overcorrects and does 7-minute pace. Today it never settled in so I had to do practically the whole run by feel.
I tried to do some simple math at the mile markers, but that didn’t work because my brain can literally not process anything when I run and math is also hard. That said, I did enough pace work last summer that I had a general sense of what 8:30 felt like, but it had been so long since I had run that speed consistently. My weak math told me that I was pretty close, but I wasn’t sure.
Despite feeling like I was going to puke during the one and only hill (that Roosevelt Road bridge is evil), I crossed the finish line in 42:12. Not only was that 8:30/mile on the nose, but it was a 35-second PR over my Turkey Trot.
I am definitely thrilled about this result and what it means for my upcoming training cycle, but I’m even more proud of the fact that I basically had to run this race by feel and nailed it. Correct pacing has always been a struggle for me and I am SUPER dependent on my watch to keep my in line. So this was a win in so many ways. The absolute worst part about it is that I had to admit to Kate and Ari that I was wrong and they were right.
I’m back baby!