This year, I tried something new for running. I actually trained.
You would think that would be a no brainer. And I guess I should clarify. I have always "trained" however, what I did was make it up as I went along. Not the most effective, although it worked to some extent. I finished all my races and I mostly, continually improved.
But this year, I wanted to break through, really put my all into it. So when a friend mentioned the sub-55 min 10k training plan (by Jeff Gaudette) in the running app I had, I thought, hmmmmmm. That is a lofty goal. My personal best (PB) is a good almost 4 min slower than that. But I could do the plan and shoot to break 58 min.
I mentioned it to my trainer, Dan, and he told me heck yes I could do it. At that point, I tried to believe but well, I am a healthy pessimist at heart.
In May I had raced to a time of 59:45 or so and that was good, really good for me. I hadn't worked too hard yet and I already was close to last year's PB. And I felt good during the race. It was one of the good ones, where quitting isn't even something that passes through your mind.
Sometime at the end of May I began the training plan.
And as the workouts were completed and I was meeting the pace requirements, I started to believe that yes, I could actually shoot for a 55 min 10k.
Fast forward to early September and we ran our relay race for the Queen City Marathon. My leg was supposed to be 11k. I ran and felt amazing the whole way and according to my timing device I was at 54:58 at the 10k mark. I finished my leg in 60:36. I was beyond happy. On a high for a week or so.
Until I talked to a friend who ran the same leg. Her phone said it was only 10.7k. I know that my timing device (quit putting stupid random links in my post Blogger!) tends to overestimate the distance (it said 11.06k), but really? By almost 400m?!
That deflated me a wee bit because I didn't quite achieve the pace as I had thought. Time to get back to work and finish the training for Oct 5 10k race. That one the distance was fixed. The time is published. This was the goal race. And I still had work to do.
The other huge piece to my training plan has been nutrition. My trainer has been working with me on macronutrients. He gives me set amounts of carbs, protein and fat (the good kind) to eat each day. I have been following his guidance since early in the summer and what a difference. As soon as I got serious about it, the runs became so much easier. Less sucking wind and swearing in my head, more you are doing it, just keep pushing, it's hard but you got this.
Yesterday was the day. The one I had been working so hard for all summer long. I logged between 20 and 30 km a week running 2-3 times a week. Speed work , tempo runs and long slower runs with increased speed at the end. I was more ready for this race than any other race I have ever entered.
I am foreshadowing here. Do you see where I am going?
I believed. I could do this. I felt like I held myself back a bit during the QCM race. This time, I was going for it. I was all in.
Jen came in the night before to run the 5k and we had dinner together and visited. It was great, I haven't seen her in too long.
In the morning, we headed out. I was a bundle of nerves (did I put enough pressure on myself or what?) but we arrived and jogged to the bathroom. Jen commented that she was just getting nervous and noted I was probably calm. I said yes, as soon as I get here and start warming up, I calm considerably.
I said good luck to Jen and lined up at the start. As I was waiting, I see friends, Leah (friend, massage therapist and yoga instructor) and her partner. They were shooting for sub 60 min so when the gun went off, I took off. I felt good, I was running fast. It was great. I was breathing well and I felt good. (Guess what my trainer told me to do? start slow and build. He's usually right. But did I listen? Oh no.)
Then I hit 3k and I started thinking, shit. What is up?
I started sucking wind. Bad. My problem has never been that my legs get tired, it's that I can't bloody breathe.
I slowed slightly, trying to get myself together. Somewhere just before 4 k I see this girl in pink beside me and she glances at me a couple of times. I thinking what is your issue chick, pass me and leave me be.
Then I hear her say, "She must be in the zone"
I finally look and guess who it is? The friends I left at the start (she was in red but I saw pink, I think that says a lot about how in my head I was). Uh huh. Apparently I was very gracious and welcoming and was all like, "Oh. Hi."
She asked me how I was feeling. She knew. She noted later that she didn't think it was a good thing that they had caught up to me.
Not good was my reply. So what does she do? She goes into yoga instructor mode and coaches me the entire rest of the race. Her and Ahren could have taken off and in fact I told them to more than once, I felt like a complete butt head. Here I trained and shot my mouth off about this goal and I was the one who needs their help. They had to slow down for me. Later Ahren commented that you never leave a man behind. But it was a race I said, leaving a man behind is so fair game!
I am very grateful for Leah because she pushed me harder than I had it in me yesterday to push myself. I had to walk multiple times to catch my breath and get my breathing back...she egged me on. Each time I slowed, she pumped me up. I didn't always want to hear it. I wanted to quit. I know I wouldn't have even if she hadn't been there but I would have slowed down way more. She didn't let me, she made me do it even though it hurt like hell.
At about the 8k mark we almost got in a fight. She egged me up a hill (there were more hills on that route than San Francisco, I swear. I don't care if we live in the flattest place on earth. Yesterday the hills were 5x magnified, the bastards) and tried to tell me it was the last one.
I didn't talk much during the race. I just listened but at that point I had to call her bluff. It SO wasn't the last hill and I knew it. There is another one, just before the entrance to the track we finish on. It was funny then and it cracks me up now. I was like a four year old child. It's not the last hill, I yelled. Then I walked. Again. Because I had used up all my air yelling. Like a four year old. I am so mature, it physically pains me.
She nearly kicked me in the butt at that point.
Then I got it in gear. I thought to myself, you are not going to let this one bad run ruin all the work you did this summer. It's not going to ruin how far you know you have come. Suck it up princess and get it done.
By this point, we were close. I could finally see the light at the end of the pain. When I got to the finish the pain would stop. And my goal? It wasn't completely gone. I looked down just as we finished that last bastardo of a hill and my watch said 53min and some seconds. I was close. I had to do about 400 more meters and I know from training if I kick into high gear, I can do that in just over 2 min. So I could still break 56 min. That was just what I needed to pull that last bit from deep within me (see Leah, I was listening!).
We were on the track. That track, for the record, might only be about 300 meters from when we re-enter it and finish (we also start on the track so we do the first 100 meters at the beginning of the race) but it feels like 8 effing miles. I have run this exact race 2 times before, I know this.
But the finish. It was. right. there. The pain would stop.
Then Leah decides I need to pass a girl about 15 meters in front of us. So we do. God knows where I got that energy from. Apparently we passed her. I have no recollection of this after I looked up and saw her in front of me. I sprinted (as fast as I could go at this point anyway) and Leah is still cheering me on. Does she not have to breathe I think? And also how do I get me some of that because air, it was a deficit for me yesterday for about 40 some minutes of that damn race.
We neared the finish and I hear Jen cheering me on - friends rule the world y'all.
We crossed the finish I stopped my watch and the time read 55:53.
Then I bent over and tried not to die.
My previous personal best was in this exact race last year. 58:43. I was almost 3 min faster.
That is HUGE.
I am happy. But. My goal was 55 min and I hate runs that hurt that much. They are mentally exhausting. I was fighting a cold all week. Maybe that was it. Maybe it was how fast I stared out. I don't know what it was and I can analyse it till the cows come home (and I will, don't you worry) but the moral of the story is I had a terrible run. Horrid. I was at my worst. The pathetic noises I know that came out of me mortify me. Having a friend there makes my patheticness (what? it's a word, it describes Kami during a terrible run) come out. Alone, I would never make those noises out loud. Terry Lyn will know all about this as she pushed me to a personal best a few years again the same manner. Except that time, I hadn't trained properly.
I had a personal best. A horrid run that resulted in a personal best.
I have to be proud. I am working on it. I'll get there as soon as I stop feeling like a truck ran over me.
The moral of this story is that I am not a natural runner. I have to work four times as hard as say, someone like Leah who could have easily broke 55 min yesterday had she not been an amazing friend and instead helped me.
It was all worth it. Reaching a goal is rewarding and the only reason I run. I may not have quite gotten exactly to the goal I wanted but I did reach a goal. I ran faster because I trained hard (and Leah didn't let me quit on myself - maybe I am self-destructive Jen, I lied).