Today I was back to training with my US Fit running group. The 'red' team (10+ min/mile marathoners) was doing 7 miles while the 'blue' team (half marathoners of all paces) was doing 4 miles. My running coach wanted me to do 6 miles. Since all of our runs are out & back, I went withe the 'red's and turned around at the 3 mile mark.
To start with, I wasn't really enjoying it. I didn't sleep well last night knowing I needed to be up before 6 am if I wanted to make the run. In fact, I finally turned the alarm off & decided I'd just run on my own when I got up. Well, after not a lot of sleep, I woke up a little before 6. I knew I wouldn't get back to sleep so I decided to give the group another try. It's not that it has been 'bad', but I like running on my own & I didn't want to be the 'only one' turning around after 3 miles.
We started running at 6:30. It was already 82 degrees - and humid. (This is Houston!) I started in the middle of the pack but was the last person by the half mile mark. I was wanting to stay at about a 12:45 pace for at least the first 3 miles. I knew I could go this far without walking IF I didn't push too hard. Well, the group was running 12:30 and sometimes 12:15. I decided to keep them in my sights.
There was a moment when I decided this was my last run with the group. (Though I later changed my mind!) There is a 'sag' coach, I guess you'd call them. There are multiple coaches with each group and 1 is assigned to make sure everyone is accounted for. Well, she turned around & realized she wasn't the last one. She was running with 2 other ladies & must have said something...as first one lady then the other turned around. It made me feel uneasy that everyone was looking to see who was being so slow! But, that's part of the mental game, right!? I had to run MY run for today. I decided I could hang back and let them 'pull' me with an invisible rope. I didn't know the course, so I didn't let them get too far ahead. I figured they'd walk eventually and I'd catch up. (Well, they never walked that I saw, but others did walk & I caught up to them!)
The route we run starts off in a neighborhood for about a mile. Then you have less than a quarter mile on dirt and then it turns into a nice blacktop trail. There are some 'hills'. Nothing too long or too steep, but it is great to have that as part of my training as my regular neighborhood run is FLAT!
I passed several people including one of the coaches while he was walking. I told him I'd be turning around early...at the 3 mile mark. I wanted to let him know so they didn't think I'd disappeared!
I hit the 3 mile mark and felt really good! My pace was great. I felt like a little energizer bunny. (I thought of that several times...my pace felt so good I was wound up like that little bunny!)
At about mile 4 I caught up with a lady who had a triathlon shirt on from the weekend before. I talked to her for awhile. She had done it as a relay and done the running portion. She said she was impressed by how hard a triathlon was and I told her about my experiences.
We were running a little too fast for me and I finally told her I couldn't keep up the pace so she should feel free to go on. It's kind of funn, because she did...and I caught up to her about 5 minutes later while she was walking. I didn't see her again.
I hit the one hour mark at about 5 miles. I had not walked a SINGLE STEP!!! WooHoo!!! This is amazing as I used to stop at LEAST every mile. Wow. What a difference! I have learned, in just the past few weeks, that I can run a lot farther without walking if I have the right pace. But, my farthest 'run without walking' was 3.5 miles. I hit 5 miles...and decided I WOULD run 6 miles without walking.
At mile 5.1 I got a small side stitch. Hmph! So, I slowed just a tad and focused on breathing. My coach told me I should visualize the oxygen going to my muscles and I tried that. It never got worse, but it didn't really get better either. I ran with a side stitch for the last .9 miles!
I ended up running 6.00 miles in 1:37:37. That is a 12:17 pace! That is GREAT for me!!! (And, just wait until the weather cools down!!!) And, I was steady...just as my goal was...my miles were: 12:36, 12:07, 12:13, 12:07, and 12:07. (That last mile I was sometimes slower than a 13:00 pace and at other times closer to 11:00...because of the side stitch.)
After the run, we had a seminar from one of the coaches. He is a police officer who travels the country doing anti-terrorism talks to other officers. Well, he talked to us about safety. Here are some of his tips:
...wear an ID (like Road ID)
...don't run alone (this one's hard!)
...if you do run alone, let someone know your route & when you'll return
...women should dress 'frumpy' and not be wearing big jewelry, etc
...wear bright colors
...run against traffic
...if a runner (or someone) is approaching you, look them in the EYE!!! (don't let them 'sneak' up on you)...you can say 'hi' or whatever, but let them know you are aware they are there!
...WEAR some kind of "Road ID" with your emergency info - emergency contact, any medical conditions, and blood type - you might not be able to talk if an ambulance picks you up!!!
Be safe out there & hope you all have a good run, or whatever you're doing, this weekend!