Possessed. By a SPEED demon.

Whoever has taken over control of my legs… please keep up the good work!

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well the training has gone coming off the Nearly Runless Summer of 2011.  I’ve really just been working on building back up a decent base to this point, but I’m now just getting started on the actual training plan leading into my March half-marathon(s?).  I put together my own plan (with a little help from Hal Higdon and Greg McMillan), and I think I’ve come up with one that will be quite challenging, but totally doable.  I can only hope it all goes as smoothly as the first two weeks have gone.  They have definitely been a huge confidence booster.

Thursday I had a five-mile tempo run scheduled.  I was running after work, so it was dark.  I could only occasionally see my pace when I would run under a street lamp, so for the most part I was just trying to run at a comfortably uncomfortable pace.  Until Thursday night, the fastest five miles I had ever run was at a 9:44 pace at a five-mile race last January.  So I was SHOCKED when I finished the run and looked at my Garmin to see a 9:29 overall pace on Thursday.  SHOCKED, I tell you.

And then Saturday… aaaaaahhhh…. I’m still soaking in Saturday just a little bit.  My long run was a repeat of last week.  Eight miles.  Just last weekend I ran a small local 8-mile race and set a PR at a 10:12 pace.  Which, to be honest, I was tickled to death with.  I tried to be a good girl and run Saturday’s eight at a pace closer to what all the smart people say a long run should be run at, but it just wasn’t happening.  When I tried to do the suggested “long slow distance” pace it just felt plain ol’ AWKWARD, so I decided to ignore my Garmin, pay attention to my breathing, and run at a pace that I felt like I could run for a long time.  And that’s what I did.  I didn’t pay any more attention to my pace until I got near the end and saw an average pace of just slightly over 10.  So at that point I did kick it in just a little bit.  I ran just fast enough that last quarter mile or so to end up with this:

A sub-10 on a long run???  Who ARE you???  I don’t know you anymore.

Sometimes I love running.

For Lack of a Better Topic…

… let’s talk about running.  We haven’t done much of that around here lately.  There’s no reason for the neglect, really.  I’m still running.  I’m still spinning on Wednesdays.  I’m still doing the elliptical and doing some strength training a day or two a week.  Still working on speed by doing intervals on the ‘mill one day a week.  I finally feel like I’m doing the things that I should have been doing all along.  And my pace is showing it.  I had a 5-mile tempo run last night, and that run ended up being only a few seconds off from my 5-mile race pace from only about six weeks ago, and I definitely could have kept going had my plan called for a 6- or 7-mile tempo.  I was able to kick the ‘mill intervals up by a couple tenths of a MPH last week.  I’m doing my long runs with no walk breaks.  I guess I just feel like I’m slowly and steadily becoming a stronger runner.

I’ve got a few races coming up within the next month and a half.  I’m kind of curious to see how I can perform.  Next weekend I have another 5K.  I don’t expect there to be just a lot of improvement since my last one, the Cupid’s Chase from only four weeks ago, but I bet there’ll be some.  If I can just take 0.96 seconds off and get that sub-28 I’ll be thrilled.  Then in April I’ve got two half-marathons.  I’ve got a goal floating around in my head for one of those, but I’m still not sure how that’s going to pan out.  It looks like a friend will be running the first one with me, so I’m thinking I will end up running one for fun and racing the other one.  We’ll see.

In short, I’m running and I’m doing it faster than ever and I feel great doing it.  Yay!

Looking Ahead by Looking Back

Do any of you guys (especially those of you who are still relatively new to the sport like me) ever look back through your log just to see how far you’ve come? Isn’t it a wonderful feeling??? I did just that tonight.

I went out for a short three-mile run this evening (FIRST OUTDOOR WEEKDAY RUN IN THREE WEEKS! HELLO SUB-90-DEGREE EVENINGS! Until Thursday anyway. It is a very quick break, but a very welcome one!) The heat index was still 89 degrees, but I still set a personal best for myself. It was a good, solid effort, but I didn’t feel like I was killing myself out there. When I was logging the run, I was just browsing back through my old three-mile times from when I started this craziness last summer. They started out in the 12s, then dropped into the 11s, and I distinctly remember the day I broke the 11 min/mile. I was so excited. How endearing… (Sub-9, you WILL be mine by the end of the year.)

It’s a good feeling to look behind me to see how far I’ve come. It makes me excited about moving forward and continuing to improve and grow stronger and faster. I have consistently surprised myself over the past year, and I can’t wait to see what I still have in store for myself.