Since August of 2010, I've been trying to work my way up to running a full 5K. I've never been a runner. Even back when I was thin, athletic, and swimming/cross-training for 12+ hours a week, I was never good at running. I'm not sure why I got it into my head in 2010 that I wanted to learn to run. Maybe it was hearing other bloggers talk about the C25K (Couch to 5K) program that got me interested, I'm not sure, but that's how I started.
In Aug 2010, I completely failed at the program, giving up right before the 20-minute run of Week 5. In Jan/Feb 2011, I completed the program, working until I could easily run 45 mins straight. Still, my pace was so slow that I could walk faster than I ran, and I was no where near an actual 5K. Plus, when I tried to run outside, I couldn't go for longer than 5 minutes at a time. I decided I needed to transition to outdoor training, and did so in April/May of 2011, but no matter how hard I worked, I could never run longer than a mile. Slowly, I realized that the reason I could go so much longer in my living room than outdoors was because I ran a lot faster outside. My pace was closer to 12 minutes/mile outdoors, and closer to 17-18 minutes/mile indoors. I had a hard time slowing down when I ran outside, but I couldn't maintain the faster time for longer than a mile or so.
I've had a goal to run a full 5K for a long time now, and I've been frustrated for the last year (or longer) that I still haven't reached it. So the day before my cruise, I decided to try an experiment. I would set the hotel gym treadmill to a 15-min mile pace (slightly increasing it as I jogged), and see if I could jog a whole 3.1 miles at the slower pace. And I did. It was real slow - 45:22 - but I had run a full 5K for the first time in my life. Which led me to this question: if I took it easy enough, could I do the same on my regular running trails?
Sunday night, I mapped out a 3.1-mile course. The area where I run is made up mostly of pugmill trails rather than asphalt or concrete (the picture above is one of the less-rocky trails). It's a hilly area, with an elevation of up to 1300 ft. The course I mapped out was about half uphill, half downhill. The first mile was along one specific trail, and the next 2.1 miles included three laps around a 0.7-mile loop trail.
I was nervous Monday morning, but I got out there and did it! I ran the full 5K! For me, this was a much bigger achievement than the treadmill 5K. Maybe this sounds stupid, but it felt sort of like cheating to complete my goal on a treadmill. I know that's silly, and that a 5K is a 5K no matter where you run it, but it felt a million times better to run the real distance, you know? I ran 3.1 miles, outdoors, on trails, on hills, PLUS I completed it a whole minute faster than on the treadmill. Here's how my laps came out:
- First mile: 14:35, or 4.1 mph
- Next 1.05 miles: 15:25, a 14:41-minute mile, or 4.1 mph
- Last 1.05 miles: 14:22, or a 13:41-minute mile, or 4.4 mph
- Total 3.1 miles in 44:22, a 14:19-minute mile pace, or 4.2 mph
My last 1.05-mile split was much faster only because I sped up a lot in the last 0.15 miles. Otherwise, my pace was fairly consistent all the way through at around 4.1 mph. I just sped up at the end because I knew I was near the finish line. :) Sadly, I don't have specific mile splits from when I was on the loop. There's a mid-point that's exactly .35 miles, so every 1.5 loops equalled 1.05 miles. I took my splits at that. I really need to figure out how to sync up the GPS tracker that came with my heart rate monitor! It's still sitting in the box!
Now you'd think that after I completely forgot to take a picture post-treadmill-5K, that I would remember this time, right? No. I even thought about it while I was running, but forgot by the time I was done. Next time, I suppose...there will DEFINITELY be a next time! I can't wait to run an official 5K. On flatter ground. I wonder what it would be like to train in a place where I wasn't going uphill half the time...