So we’re about 4 weeks into half-marathon training, and it’s been a month of ups and downs. And time trials.
Sometimes I’ll have a good run, and I think the slump that’s been hounding me this entire year is on the downhill slope, but then another run happens that leaves me feeling like a novice runner, and I come home feeling beat up and discouraged. But I keep lacing up my shoes and heading out the door because one thing I refuse to be is a quitter.
Over the last few weeks our training has included a couple of different time trials. Time trials are benchmark runs used as a measure of fitness. They’re generally not much fun but they are incredibly useful in assessing progress, or lack thereof.
The first time trial was a 1.5 mile run at the track. Yeah, you know me and track workouts, so a fast 1.5 miles at the track was NOT something I was looking forward to. For those 6 laps we were instructed to run at 100% effort. Give it all you’ve got. Get out of your comfort zone. Run as hard as you can. And this was the weather forecast for the evening of the time trial–just one word: HOT! The coaches don’t cancel track workouts until the heat index reaches 105 degrees, so since we were only like at a heat index of 104 (kidding–I have no idea what the heat index was but actual temps felt like 104!), the workout was a go.
I ran the first mile in 8:08, not my fastest mile, but I was okay with that time. But with 2 laps to go, I just couldn’t hold on. I was starting to feel queasy, whether from the heat or effort I’m not sure, but I ended up walking about 100 meters of each of the last 2 laps and finished my 1.5 miles in a disappointing 13:09.Then today was the Bedlam Run, a local 5K/10K, that our training used as a 5K time trial. We needed to run 6 miles one way or another, so some chose to run the 10K. I chose to run a 1.5 mile warm-up and cool-down on my own and race the 5K. I was a bit nervous since I haven’t been running well and my last 5K was a total disaster, but the warm-up felt good, the weather was exceptionally cool for August in Oklahoma, and I felt excited to run.
While the race was meant to be a time trial, I also knew that with the struggle I’d been having with pace and distance, if I pushed myself too hard, I wouldn’t be able to finish, even a 5K, so I went into the race with a goal of running half-marathon race pace, 8:50-9:15 per mile. From the start I hit 8:50, felt great, and had a good race finishing in 27:44, third in my age group. That was an unexpected surprise! And there were super yummy pancakes at the after party.
I felt good during the race but had a terrible time with the 1.5 mile cool-down (go figure), but over all I was encouraged–until I checked the chart that predicts race times based on a current race. So with a 5K time of 27:30-28:00, it’s not likely that I can set a half-marathon PR. Boo! Hiss!
There’s a part of me that just wants to throw in the towel, but the competitor in me says I have to keep trying. The realist in me also knows that I have to be prepared to adjust my race goal. Maybe, if everything is perfect and it’s my day, maybe I can run a PR on race day. But if it’s not my day, I’m trying to accept that a good goal is racing my best, feeling good doing it, and finishing strong, regardless of time. It’s not the finish I want, but as with all things in life, it’ll be a learning experience, and I’ll gain something from it if I just look for it.
So onward and upward! Tomorrow starts a new week. I WILL get my miles in!
Talk to me:
How are your health and fitness goals coming along?
What did you do today or this weekend?