Throughout the Holiday Run Streak – now at 11, assuming (safely) that I run today — I've thought to myself: "At least one of the single-mile runs I do should be fast." While I have no qualms about using one slow mile as a stand-in for a rest day, I don't want to baby myself, either.
Yesterday was my first such attempt. Having been out late the night before, my hopes were not high. I knew that, with moderate effort, I could most likely finish in less than nine minutes, though.
Off I went. The first quarter-mile, I succeeded in keeping the pace I do on my faster intervals. The wind and the yogurt I'd eaten pre-run were mostly vague irritants more than hindrances.
As I've mentioned before, in my four years of running, I still haven't nailed "don't go out too fast and totally wipe yourself out." During the second quarter-mile, I felt cautiously optimistic that this was a good pacing day; I wasn't going to sustain this pace for 5K, but it was comfortably hard rather than excruciating.
I turned around at the half-mile mark. No surprise, then, that my legs felt the heaviest during the third quarter-mile. My lungs weren't exactly happy with me, either. However, my ego was doing just fine, having seen that I'd done a little over a half-mile in 4:10. The very likely positive split wouldn't keep me from finishing under 9:00.
The desire to get this over with powered me through the final quarter-mile. I've found "you can do anything for two minutes" to be a pretty powerful positive self-talk, so I went to that well almost nonstop during the final 0.25. I was sucking air fairly hard, but even worse was how the morning's yogurt and the previous night's alcohol were sloshing around in my stomach.
Finally I hit 1.00. My time? 7:57.
Let me repeat: 7:57.
Back in February, I'd set three running goals for myself: finish the Rock River 1000 Mile Challenge, run a mile in 8:00 and average a 9:00 pace for a 5K (which I'd forgotten about, until re-reading my blog post).
At the time, I'm sure I expected to succeed in the first and fail at the second two. But as it stands right now, I've missed the first and nailed the second two. (Remember the Remembrance Run 5K?)
Plus, I've done more than survive the two speed challenges. I've finished maybe not with a smile, but with a great rush of endorphins and that ridiculous feeling that I can do anything once I get into some dry clothes and chug a big glass of water.
I'm still pinching myself: 7:57. I hope my gym teachers are reading this.