For the past few months, I have been getting out on the road, doing the two to five-mile shuffle at least three times each week. This for me is a great improvement in consistency over my last two years as a runner. It's not that I have put myself on a schedule, so much as I like to run. So I get out and do it when my legs are itching. (Tomorrow morning, it's on!) But I have no goal set. No pace to hit, no mileage to train up to, no real structure to my workout regimen. So, when I wake up, I base my distance on time available before life activities begin (work, family gatherings, appointments, etc.) ... and on fear. I haven't run more than five miles in... Well, truthfully, I cannot remember the last time I ran more than five miles. Running in my new shoes, I get nervous about injuries if I run farther.
But let's be serious for a moment. I can (and have) run five miles, no issues, in my Vibram Fivefingers KomodoSport LS. Why should adding one mile cause fear to creep into my bones and tense my legs?
I admit, I have a running injury. We all do, right? We did something at some point, where maybe we weren't really listening to our bodies and we pushed just a little too hard, for a little too long, and maybe it was while we were going downhill, and now our knee hurts when we "run more than five miles". Okay, MY knee hurts - more specifically, it has been painful in the past - when I increased my mileage. What reason does this give me to refrain from at least trying a greater distance? Every part of my leg is functioning without complaint right now, and I am smarter, more attentive, and running with a much better foot fall, stride, and pace than anytime in my past.
So how do I push myself through the fear and past my five-mile mark?
I sign up for a race! I will be running the Pints to Pasta 10K Race this weekend, truthfully one of my FAVORITE races in Portland. I ran it in 2009, 2010, and due to a lack of consistency, skipped 2011. It is certainly time to get out and do this race again. The course is lovely; a great downhill to start us all out at a good clip, crossing the bridge into downtown, running along the waterfront (beautiful!), and finally ending at the Old Spaghetti Factory, my childhood favorite restaurant. Wonderful memories flood my mind when visiting this family style restaurant of many birthdays and celebrations. I still enjoy the Mizithra Cheese and Browned Butter (A la Homer they called it, when I was a kid), on my adult birthdays. I just no longer ask to sit in the Caboose. ;)
So, this Sunday, I will complete a 10K, in my favorite Five Fingers, and see what my pace is at the end. If how I've been running recently is any indication, I will surely come out of this race with a significant PR. Times to beat: 2009 - 59'17" overall time, 9'32" per mile, 83 out of 216 in my age division, 947/2032 overall. 2010 - 59'13" overall, 9'32" per mile, and finishing 119 of 304 in my age division, 1252/2528 all runners. Until now, I wasn't aware that I had achieved nearly the same time on both those races! For this year's race, I'm going to guess conservatively, say I run about 9 minute miles, I'll be crossing the finish with about 55'48" chip time. Should be fun to see how it turns out!
Please note, I will not be running this full-out as a race. I do truly enjoy this run. It is stunning; I like to take the time to look around, breathe in, and just have fun. My purpose of signing up for this race is to see where a good dose of fun and much improved technique get me on a fast, downhill 10K. Are you up for a race?
Come join me!