Thursday, November 25, 2010

PR: Thanks

If you're a real runner and you read this, forgive me. I'm about to be thrilled about a barely sub-nine-minute pace.

I am a slow slogger, usually training at about a 10:15 pace, quick only at seeding myself in the rear of the pack at the start line. Today I ran the local Turkey Trot, a three-mile informal group run, and surprised myself.

The cold (28 degrees, 12-mph winds) and the early hour (8 AM on a holiday) didn't matter. There were 70 or more runners hopping, chatting, ready to run. I loved how informal it was: put something in the box for the food pantry and wait for the start. No numbers, no fees, no chips. A guy told us the route, thanked us for the food donations, and yelled "GO!"

The first mile of the course went from a subtle downhill to a flat and when I glimpsed my Garmin at about three-quarters of a mile I truly did a double-take. It said my pace was 8:27. I figured something was wrong with the GPS or that the downhill was really helping. My heartrate was where it should be so I kept the pace.

I passed a few people (younger than me, felt so good) and was waiting for runners to start passing me as the course went on. I decided I must have seeded myself in the right spot -- WAAAAY in the back -- 'cause no one did. (Well, no one except a skinny teenager in breezy shorts who added an extra mile or two to his route just for the fun of it. He passed me toward the finish. Informal route.)

Toward the middle of the second mile the route began a long, low climb that lasted almost a mile. The terrible climber that I am, I listened for footsteps of runners wanting to pass. But still, no one. I was working hard, no extra breath, focusing on my biggest muscles for the climb. My second mile came in at 9:16. For me, shockingly fast.

The last half of the third mile was the hardest, but that's as it should be, right? I was out of my comfort zone -- way out. But I was psyched! I did all I could to finish strong: third mile 9:13. Finish time: three miles 26:59. A personal record. Can I technically say I ran an eight-minute pace? Maybe not. But now I feel hope.

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