Anyway, last night, when I was looking at my training plan, I realized I had accidentally screwed something up when I was transferring the plan from one spot to another, and the run I thought I was doing today was much easier than what was actually listed. The correct schedule said that I was supposed to "Alternate 10 minutes easy with 10 minutes fast for 50 minutes". I read that as 2x(10 min easy, 10 min fast); 10 min easy.
The problem here is that the "fast" pace is supposed to be "faster than race pace" or 95% of your maximum heart rate. My race pace is 7:55/mile, and I haven't run a mile (outdoors) that fast in over two years. Two years, people! And I was going to have to do 10 minutes (roughly 1.25 miles) not just once, but TWICE? Might as well quit now, is what I was thinking last night.
Anyway, this morning was going to be crazy busy, because I had all kinds of errands to run while the kids were in school. I knew I could squeeze in my run if I did it right away, instead of procrastinating until 10:30 or so. I dressed in my running clothes and then drove Eli to school, because we made a birthday treat for him to share with his class. From his school, I just went to the Lake Erie Metropark to run. Did I mention the weather was awesome?
I was nervous, but I kept telling myself that if I couldn't hold the pace, then I would just do my best. Running my best would still help me improve. I started off with the 10 minutes at easy pace, and my heart rate was higher than normal because of my nerves. Haha! I still get nervous every time I have an "important" run. I tried to run super slow, so I didn't waste any energy.
When my Garmin beeped to start the next segment, I started running hard--too hard--and then slowed it down. It took me a few minutes to settle on a pace. I wanted to stay as close to race pace as possible, without going faster, because I didn't want to burn out halfway through.
It was hard. My breathing during easy runs is a four step inhale, three step exhale; but during fast runs like this, it's a two step inhale, one step exhale. I was glad I didn't see many people while I was running hard, because I sounded like I was going to keel over. I was surprised that the time was going by kind of quickly. When I do two-minute intervals, the time takes forever! But I could imagine at about what point at the park I'd get to stop, and I just kept repeating to myself, "Don't think, just run" (that's going to be my new mantra).
My pace was on target, so when my watch timer said 17:55, I knew I'd just run a sub-8:00 mile for the first time in over two years. I was ecstatic! Had to keep running hard until the 20:00 mark, and then finally, my Garmin beeped to start my easy run. I walked for about five seconds, wishing I could walk the whole 10 minutes, but I made myself start jogging. Thankfully, the jogging time went by really slowly--usually, it's the opposite when I do intervals. I think I was just so nervous about the next hard run. I really didn't think I could do it--I barely made it through that first one!
I told myself that since I was able to hit pace for the first one, I could run tempo pace (8:22) for the second one. But, I knew I had at least two minutes left in me at race pace, because I do 2:00 intervals each week. When my watch beeped at 30:00, I started running hard again. Surprisingly, I hit the correct pace right away (actually, a little fast, at around 7:45).
I figured I'd just hold that pace as long as I could. Eventually, I was telling myself, "Think how proud you'll be if you can finish this workout!"and "Just three minutes left!" "Just two minutes left!" etc. I was SO VERY EXCITED when I heard my Garmin beep. I slowed to a walk for a good 20 seconds or so, to catch my breath.
I did it! I had actually hit pace for both of the 10:00 intervals. I slowly jogged back to the car, stopping several times to take pictures.
It was so gorgeous! I should have plucked my eyebrows for that photo. Anyway.
I did 1.27 miles for the first 10:00 segment, which was a 7:51 pace. And for the second 10:00 segment, I did 1.29 miles, good for a 7:46 pace! These numbers totally made my day.
I haven't had a runner's high like this in a very, very long time. Smashrun even had some fun notables for me when I uploaded my run:
Needless to say, after today's "impossible" run, I am feeling much more confident that I may actually be able to pull off my PR goal. It felt so good today to push myself to the max, and aim for a goal that I didn't think I'd be able to do--and then DO IT. Don't think, just run ;)