My goal race is getting closer and closer. It seems like just last week that I was returning to training after my 10-month-long stress fracture ordeal. I'm so glad that I decided to cut out the half-marathon and marathon distances and focus on my speed for the 10K. The changes I've made, both with the running and with the calorie counting, have really helped me to get refocused on my goals, and it's been awesome.
This week, being the week before race week, means that it is my peak week for the race. This is the last chance for me to push myself and see what I can do! Yesterday's speed work was going to be my final, big, confidence-building run. Last week, I completed the "best 10K workout", and I felt SO excited to have nailed it. However, I completed it just a bit early. Ideally, it would have been done between 9 and 12 days before my race.
I wasn't quite sure what to do--should I do the same workout in the ideal time frame? Or should I try a different tough workout? When I mentioned it to Jerry, he said that he didn't think I should do the same one, because what if I couldn't do as well as I had before. It would destroy my confidence in the race. I knew he was right, so I decided to try something different, but just as effective.
Yesterday, I was 10 days out from my race, so it would have to be my final hardcore speed workout. I was having trouble making up my mind about what workout to do, so I decided to simply start running, and see what felt right once I got out there--totally winging it. I usually do best in those situations for some reason.
I dressed in the clothes I am planning to race in (Heat Gear capris and a tank, with my Brooks Ghost shoes). Then I headed out for a (hopefully) confidence-boosting run. About a quarter mile in, my pace was at 8:10, which would have made a good tempo run pace. But I asked myself what would make me feel the most confident going into the race, and that answer was running at race pace for four miles.
So, I picked up the speed a touch, trying to stay close to 7:55 without going too fast. I decided on an out-and-back route. A 7:55 pace is tough, but I felt decent, and I was able to maintain it without too much trouble. Once I turned around two miles in, I started rethinking it. I really didn't want to go two more miles at that pace! However, I knew this run was crucial--perhaps the most important run of my training--so I pushed on.
I had done a 3.5-mile race pace run before, a few weeks ago, so I focused on hitting that distance mark. Once I hit 3.51 miles, I would have run my farthest distance at a sub-8:00 pace (other than my current 10K PR). Of course, once I hit 3.5, I knew I could push myself to finish out another half mile. At mile 3.75, I was tired and wanted to stop, but physically, I knew I was capable of going farther. I could either turn right onto my street, and finish mile four in front of my house; or, I could go straight, and add a little more distance to my run. I actually chose to keep going!
I thought, "I can do 4.5--think how awesome I'll feel if I do 4.5 miles at race pace!" And that became my focus. It was then that I remembered telling Stephanie during our recent long run that I might try and run a sub-40 8K on Memorial Day this year (an 8K is 4.97 miles). The last time I ran that race, I finished in 40:31. Being so close to sub-40 in 2013 made me wish that I'd tried just a bit harder. (My 40:31 time actually earned me first place in my age group, though!)
Anyway, I realized that if I could push myself to finish five miles, it would be a new (unofficial) PR for both four miles and five miles, as well as 8K. I was imagining the "Notables" on Smashrun telling me that it was my fastest 8K and 5 mile time ever, which made me decide to go for it. I knew if I could hit 5 miles, then I'd be as confident as possible going into the race a week from Sunday.
As soon as I made that decision at mile 4.5, I was wishing I could put on Eminem's Berzerk on my iPod. That song always makes me pumped up, so I like to listen to it last during a tough run. I was debating whether to get my iPod out and fiddle with it to choose that song, and then suddenly it came on! It was the sign I needed to push on.
When I turned onto my street, I was so excited that I had (almost) done it! As soon as my Garmin beeped for mile five, I stopped the watch and jogged slowly until I reached my house. I had actually just run 5 miles at a 7:50 pace!!
My splits were all sub-8:00, and I did, in fact, get some cool notables on Smashrun:
Once again, I noticed that my hard-but-comfortable heart rate is 174 beats per minute. Once it hits 175, I start to struggle. I find that pretty interesting.
After yesterday's run, having done 5 miles at race pace, I am almost positive I can hit my goal at my 10K! Of course, other factors will come into play--a different course, different time zone, out of the norm routine, etc.--but physically, I am capable of running a 49:22 (or faster) 10K. The countdown is on! :)
By the way, if anyone from the Portland or Seattle area is interested in a meet-up, I was tentatively thinking we could do coffee on Saturday morning (April 9th) in Portland, or drinks on Monday evening (April 11th) in Seattle. If that interests you, send me an email and we can work out details!