When I was skating, one of the things I loved was how you would work on an element for weeks or months, not able to do it to save your life, leaving you incredibly frustrated – and then one day, it would just happen. One day, you would hit it perfectly, and every time after was just as perfect. That feeling was addictive.
I finally had that feeling with running this weekend. After weeks of running, getting myself back up to speed, I had my best run yet. I went out for a 5 mile run yesterday, expecting it to seem like torture. Aaron was out of town this weekend, so I was running by myself, and I hadn’t run 5 miles in almost two years. The weather was fairly cool (well, compared to the rest of the summer thus far), which was a big plus. Instead of running from my usual location, I decided to try a new spot on the trail. I seem to have a bit of a mental block on the last 3/4 mile of my usual spot, so I needed a change of pace. This change also allowed me to run uphill first, then have a nice downhill return trip.
After a mile warm up down the trail a bit, I set off. My asthma acted up quite a bit, and I probably sounded like I was dying for much of the first mile; not wanting to leave my lungs feeling lonely, my calves joined in, too. I pushed through the first mile then stopped to stretch my legs a bit and then kept going. Before I knew it, I was back up at my usual stretch of trail. Because I was just about to my turnaround point, I decided to push extra hard – a) to get to the half way point sooner, and b) to help me get over whatever mental block I have about this part of the trail. When I hit 2.5 miles, I decided to keep going another .15 miles to the crossroad. Either I would get in some extra mileage or I would get a longer cool down at the end of the run. At some point, however, I must have hit “pause” on my GPS app, because I looked down and the mileage hadn’t changed a bit since I hit the crossroad. Luckily I’m familiar with that stretch and knew it was about .15 miles since I turned and could add it later, but it was still a bit annoying. With the return trip being downhill, I pushed harder than I did on the outbound trip. All said and done, I beat our 4 mile time from the week before by nearly 9 minutes! I completed the run (about 5.25 miles) in 1:01:56. I was so happy. Not only did I run almost almost 2 minutes per mile faster than my usual long runs, I beat my previous 5 mile PR by several minutes. I was ecstatic I need to figure out what I did right so I can keep doing it! After my run I had a nice stretch on the side of the trail and (literally) put my feet up for a few minutes, listening to the birds chirp, the water bubble, and watching the world go by.
Although I was a bit sore this morning, I decided to go out and do another 2-3 miles to loosen up the legs. I went to the same spot as yesterday, hoping for the same success, but none was to be had. Of course, yesterday I hadn’t run 5 miles the day before, so naturally today was going to be slower. My legs were a bit more sore than I had realized, and my left leg is acting up again, but my times weren’t terrible. I ended up getting 2.8 miles in, which is quite fine by me. Even though I’m more sore than I would like to be, it’s a good kind of sore that I can live with. I think I’ll take tomorrow off or just use the elliptical at the gym, and then get out for another run on Tuesday. On Thursday I meet with my trainer for the first of three sessions of strength training specifically for runners. I’m really looking forward to these sessions and hope they help.