Thrilled with my Remembrance Run 5K results, I decided that it was high time — after 3.5 years of running — to push harder. I'd seen what I could do, after all.
After three attempts to repeat said speed, I'm starting to fear that I peaked Sept. 30, 2012.
On my first attempt, a too-strong start had me gassed before I hit the hilly portion. Those hills, by the way, weren't supposed to be there. Splits: 8:35, 8:22, 9:03, 8:58, for an average of 8:44.
On my second attempt, I knew what I'd done wrong the first time. That didn't mean I was able to avoid repeating it. Splits: 8:19, 8:18, 9:44, 9:20 for an average of 8:56.
CAVEAT: I fudged my numbers the first time by pausing the clock for things like nose-blowing, retying of shoes and catching my breath/swearing. I was more honest the second time, resulting in some larger numbers.
On my third attempt, I went with some boring out-and-backs along a not-quite-mile-long, flat stretch. Surely this would help, right? Wrong. Over 3.35 miles, I did average 8:47, with another incredibly speedy first mile catching up to me on the following 2.35 miles.
None of this was fun, except for each run's first mile. I was frequently angry and in some sort of discomfort. Surprisingly warm weather on one day and surprisingly strong winds on another contributed to my frustration.
During one low moment, though, a perfectly timed quote floated into my head: "If it were easy, everyone would do it."
That doesn't magically make it all kittens and bon-bons — I still feel only an average amount of accomplishment after these runs — but it does remind me to be a little more rational and realistic.
For example: Perhaps instead of repeatedly trying to run four miles at a pace I only achieved during a 5K full of positive peer pressure, I should remember all the advice I've heard/read about good speed workouts and do one each week.
Instead of assuming that one extraordinary race meant I'd learned pacing and mental endurance overnight, I should expect a learning curve. Even after 3.5 years.
And finally, instead of being grouchy about my failure to relive the magic, I should applaud myself once more for ever finding appropriate race-day aggression — I earned that medal.