Chiropractor on Monday; check.
Massage on Tuesday; check.
Stellar run on Wednesday; check.
Could it be that my body is finally back in balance? Is it possible that the plantar fasciitis, knotty hamstring and aching calves are resolving themselves? Can I dare to hope that running will FINALLY be enjoyable again?
If today’s run was any indication, the answer to all three questions is a resounding YES. There was a small 4-mile recovery run on the schedule for today, but I was itching to go. Let me loose, I want to run! I was 80% tempted to turn today’s run into a barn-burning tempo run and hold pace at 7:15-7:30. I resisted.
Instead, I allowed myself to hit a moderate tempo pace, more of what my Marathon Pace should have been: 8:26/mile. It’s one month to the day after my first marathon and I have done zero speed work. It’s coming though; I have a whole 12-week program set to get me to a new P.R. in the Half Marathon distance on March 27. This is week 1 of training and I’ll get to the speed work in due time; namely, on Tuesday. But today… oh glorious day, what a run.
It was a full 30 degrees warmer today than it was at the same time yesterday morning when I met Dailymiler’s David and Leo at the Boulder Reservoir for a quick 6-miler. Yesterday it was 5 degrees outside and the front of our hats were covered in frost after 2 minutes. A few minutes later they laughed at the frost that turns my black eyebrows into fuzzy white caterpillars that perch on my face. Fast-forward 24 hours to today, when it was a balmy 35 degrees outside and I didn’t even wear gloves!
I stuck to the concrete bike path that loops through the subdivisions of Louisville. The streets are still icy in places, but the paths are completely clear due to the heavy usage they get from walkers, runners, bicyclists, strollers and dogs. The little Bobcat snowplows are usually clearing the paths before the street snowplows have a chance to come through and dig us out… tells you a lot about the active lifestyle of the area.
I’ve had the idea for a week now that if I work at it, I could possibly hit a 1:35 Half Marathon. That’s about 7:15/mile. My current PR is 1:42 (7:44/mile). Coming off a marathon and utilizing the base that I gained over the past 5 months, I think it just might be possible to do it. Maybe.
But that’s neither here nor there; not today. Today was a welcome relief from the single-digit temps of the past week, and I felt like nature was goosing my butt. Jumping up and down, jiggling with excitement and readiness as I waited for the Garmin to sync, and then GO. But not too fast. This wasn’t a race.
Exiting the path to the street where I had to cross over, I slowed to a walk and eased my way across the ice before resuming my running pace on the path. That first patch of ice clinched the route in my mind; I would do an out-and-back on the path and not the full 4.5-mile loop that winds through graveled patches. The concrete would be clear; the gravel would not. Since I was hell-bent on hitting a tempo pace I wasn’t about ready to slow down for half-mile chunks of snow and ice.
The first mile zoomed by at a moderate warm-up pace, and I got a mental laugh at the mile split: 8:44. That was the average pace of my marathon. No wonder it felt comfortable!
I picked up the pace a hair, then adjusted again a minute later when I saw that I had kicked it up too much; 8:10/mile was too fast. Keep it steady, Lara. Rein it in. “On your left,” I called out to two women and their leashed dogs. A minute later I called out again to a trio of dog walkers. The cute dogs looked so happy to be out that I had a pang of guilt thinking about my own sweet Kirby, snoozing on the warm carpet at home… then I let it go. This was MY run.
The Garmin beeped at Mile 2: 8:34/mile. I did a quick internal check; breath was good, feet felt FABULOUS, hammies were firing… all was well. Time to turn around and head home.
The pace felt so easy. I could hold this pace for several hours at least. This was the pace I was trying to hit a month ago at CIM in Sacramento, and missed by a hair. Now it felt like a joy ride, like a breath of fresh air on lungs that hadn’t had a deep breath in far too long. Home. I was home again.
Mile 3: 8:25/mile. I was dropping just a hair, but not enough to worry about. Things were still steady. I crossed Pine Street and headed up the slight incline. Leo has a habit of really kicking in the speed on hills, and I took a page from his book and didn’t let my pace slip. My torso leaned forward ever so slightly to lean into the hill and I fixed my attention on my feet to feel how they adjusted to the hill. I was running more on the ball of my foot now; good. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
At the end of the path I crossed the last street and looked at the Garmin. Mile 4: 8:30/mile. Then I hit the last downhill section. My entire body screamed to pick up the pace and when there’s that much agreement you just have to do it and not think about it and just RUN, and I flew home, dropping a full minute off my pace for the last .4 mile of the run. Fly, Lara, fly. You’re home.