Short stories from long runs

This blog about my run and training

First, some back story.

Around this time last year, inspired by all the excitement and funky looking running shoes making their way through Boston, I joined the Colonial Road Runners running team. I joined, but then never worked up the guts to attend any group runs or events (does that even take guts?). I know. It’s bad.

Earlier in the winter I was reading one of the weekly round-ups (oh yes, I still read the newsletter each week) and decided to sign up for the Paddy Kelly 5-Miler. Then, when race day rolled around in February, we were in the midst of Snowmageddon, under three feet of snow, and the governor passed some sort of temporary law for the weekend, in which driving was illegal, so the race was off.

Around the same time, I was debating whether or not paying $45 for a 5K was absurd — decided it wasn’t — and signed up to run the BAA 5K, knowing I would want to take part in some of the hype of marathon weekend. I’m not even exaggerating when I tell you that hours after biting the bullet and submitting my registration for the BAA 5K, I got an email from the Colonial Road Runners that the 5-Miler was rescheduled for the same day.

At first I was kind of ripped at crappy scheduling and paying to run two races when I would have to choose one. Then I checked out the start times and realized I could do both! Even better, I checked my training schedule and found that my long run for the weekend of April 13 was slated to be 8 miles at race pace. Cue total satisfaction.

Yesterday I took the first train of the morning into the city and made my way to Copley Square. With 6,500 runners registered to race, it was as crowded and keyed up as almost any race I’ve seen. It was really chilly at the start, but also fun to line up in the corrals watching the sun rise over Boylston Street.

The original thought was that maybe I would try to PR, after my strong night at the track last week. Within a quarter mile or so, it was fairly evident that wasn’t going to happen. The course was really crowded and, with such narrow roads, dodging people wouldn’t have been fun or productive. So, I tucked in and went for it.

I finished in 25:07, an 8:06 pace.

Yikes.

Basically I got some water and a medal and walked back to the train. If I wasn’t totally energized by all of the groups out doing their shakeout runs pre-marathon, it would have been a pretty anticlimactic finish.

Next, it was south to Brockton for the Paddy Kelly. Okay, okay, so I had a costume change. I wanted to rock my new 5K shirt!

Do I always stand like that?

This race was really fantastic. It was obviously much smaller and more casual than the morning, but also really well run and on a nice course. We ran on a paved road through D.W. Field Park and while it was overcast and drizzly, it was otherwise really pretty, with a bunch of ponds and little waterfalls, and tons of trees around.

Since my marathon pace is definitely not going to be 8:06, my thought process was that I could run quick in the 5K and then I’d slow up and run my actual race pace (more like 9:06, I hope) for the 5-miler. I went out with the group at a solid 8:00 pace and slowed up slightly on the first uphill (it was the only one worth noting, but fairly long and gradual). If mile one clocked in just under 8, mile two was probably closer to 8:30. When I felt good during mile 3, running in the low 8’s, I decided my goal should be to finish fast, and as in my track workout last week, not to give myself permission to quit.

I kept it up for mile four and then tried to be really conscious of picking up the pace and not letting up. It could just be me, but I think it’s so exciting when I’m able to find an extra gear. There were three guys I had been trailing the entire race, so for the home stretch I really wanted to reel them in. After creeping up and taking a few steps in front, you could say one of them definitely found his next gear, and he took off, but I’m pretty sure I finished in front of the other two. “Winning” wasn’t even the satisfying part (especially since I finished fourteen minutes after the winner), but, instead not pulling up and tapering off on my way into the finish.

My watch time was 41 minutes exactly, an 8:11 pace.
For the next six weeks until my race, I want to keep up my pace and to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I figure that the more I can acclimate my body to running fast, the slower and easier a 9 minute pace will feel. And being uncomfortable is inevitable, so I need to get my head and body to a place that it is also manageable.

Last night we had Cait and Chris (and Cait’s best friends Ellen and Stacy) over for a pre-Boston Marathon pasta party — complete with BAA themed colors and lots of last minute advice for Chris… I can’t help myself — and in about an hour Nik and I will be headed to Newton to camp out at the 20 mile mark. Marathon updates to come!