Friday, April 19, 2013
It all started when I was in college taking the mandatory "hard" PE class that we had to take - the one that wasn't tennis, volleyball, golf, rock climbing, aka, the fun one, but the run conditioning one, the step aerobics one, the body conditioning one. I did aerobics and body conditioning, ie, it was like a cardio circuit class with the occasional ST/one mile run day. Well, we were told to go run a mile and me and my roomie were like "uhm....no". But you know what? We did! We ran that entire mile without stopping. Yeah, we might have finished close to last, but we were both immensely proud that we did it. I don't know what our pace was, but it didn't matter.
That summer when I was living at home, I decided to start running on my parents treadmill. I started around an 11:30 minute mile and I couldn't even do half a mile. But everyday I did a little bit more. I remember when I got up to 1.25 miles, I was shocked. But then the summer ended I went back to college where everyone who ran on the gym's treadmills were fast and ran what seemed like long distances to me. There was NO way I was going to run in front of all those stereotypical sorority girls! So I stuck to my elliptical and the running stopped.
Then last year (3 years later, mind you) I decided to start running again. This time, I started slow, around a 14 minute mile. Once I could get up to 30 minutes at that speed without having to stop, I would slowly increase the speed. Right now, I'm running at a 9:06 minute mile and can run at that speed for 50 minutes (on a good day!).
But that's on a treadmill.
Now I've ran outside before. ...When I do races. That's it. 4 whole times. It's different. It's very different. It's much more mental since, unless you have one of those fancy GPS watches, you don't know your pace (and don't have something to keep you at that pace!), you don't know your distance (the iMapMyRun app that I use only tells me my pace and time when I hit every mile), and it's harder to set goals - such as "just 0.25 more miles" or "let's make it to the 35 minute mark - but that's ALMOST 4 miles, let's make it 4 miles - ok, might as well make it 40 minutes - but that's ALMOST 4.5 miles, so let's make it there, but that's almsot 45 minutes, I can do 1 more minute!" etc. You can so easily keep pushing yourself. But the road? You have no idea. And then there are the elements, the hills, the turns, the people! It's harder, much harder, mentally AND physically.
So I saw this 10K training program. Yeah, I can run 6 miles on the treadmill, but this was outside and it is the motivation I need to run outside and help prepare me for my half in November. Our first meet up was about a week and a half ago, a simple 3 mile run on the most beautiful trail ever. Almost half of it is various bridges and the majority of it is in the shade. There are a few hills, but they're short (some steep) and lots of turns. It's 4 miles - 2 miles one way and 2 miles back. At first I was nervous - people I've never run with before (they all did the 5K training program a few months ago), they run at a slower pace than I do (10:30-11 minutes and occasionally will up the pace to 9:30-10), they walk occasionally (not very often though!), and stop to incorporate ST. It's different. I've never ran with a group before! The first time I was slightly disappointed, it was easy and I didn't feel pushed at all! But I was surprised, I've never ran 3 miles outside before with such minimal walking! It made me realize that it's ok to slow the pace to get the longer distances. We did trail runs this week. Sunday's trail was easy and I kept having to be pulled back (which is what I need!), and we did the same trail Wednesday - that was BRUTAL, I don't know how I survived that! We did it backwards and decided to do break off from the trail and go up this massive hill - only to find that another massive hill followed it! I don't know what we average and I don't want to know, the point is, that we run almost the entire thing at various paces.
But I love this 4 mile trail that we did the first time. It's so pretty (and safe - the other trail is not safe to do alone at all, but it's so peaceful :/). I ran it on my own and averaged a 10:57 min mile, not my best speed at all, but like I said, I'm not use to running outside. I push myself in the beginning (run way too fast and burn out!) and then have to recover the rest of the course. I wasn't trying for speed or anything, just to run. I walked slowly on parts of it. The next time I wanted to go for speed, and speed I did. I went way too fast in the beginning (of course!) and walked a good deal of it. However, I still finished it with a 9:57 minute average. I was happy :) It's normal race pace. Then I did it on Wednesday after doing that brutal trail run! I wasn't expecting anything special, but I was just feeling motivated. I did the first mile in 9 minutes (surprisingly) and had to walk a lot. I ended up finishing around an 11:37 average. Still happy with it! Then today I had a goal. Run the entire thing one way - and I did! It ends in a short bridge, so I walked that short bridge when I turned around, and then ran. At first, my goal was just run to the next bridge (maybe 0.6 miles?), but then I thought ...run the bridge! Then I did! Then the bridge ended and I was thinking that I'd walk to the next bridge. That next bridge is LONG, maybe 0.75 miles, so I'd need the energy, and the distance between the bridges is maybe 0.25 miles, so it would be a good power walking distance to recover. But I ran the entire thing. Then the bridge ended and I thought I'd walk a little bit, but no, it's only about 0.4 miles to the end and I figured I'd push myself (because I've always ran that long bridge to the end) and I did! I ran the entire thing back and ended up finishing at a 9:37 average! GO ME!! So I ended up only walking that short distance on the bridge when I turned around! WOO! I'm happy :)
This 10K running program has taught me to push myself, that I can slow my pace and keep running, then increase my speed again, and that's what I did today. I'm thrilled. Next week is hills. I'm going to die. Hills always kill me.
But I'm so excited. I love running and I wish I could do it all the time. I love pushing myself and the reward is so intoxicating. I just wish I could have ran more today, but I woke up late. I ate like crap again last night and I'm very bloated today due to it. I was SO close to being back in the 140s too. Maybe tomorrow once all the bloating goes down :/