Y'all know I'm a slow runner. I hate how slow I am, and I get discouraged when I try to run with others who are faster. But in order to run faster, I realized I'll have to, well, run faster. So I did.
This week, my best West Coast bud, Tia Kel, returned from a three-month Arkansas hiatus, and we celebrated by going for a run. We planned to do speed intervals at the track, but when we got there, it had been completely taken over by old ladies. Instead of fighting the slow-moving crowd, we decided to run downtown instead, and Trea joined us. We ran two easy miles together before Kel had to leave for hot yoga class. Trea and I wanted to keep running, and we drove back over to the track to see if the ladies had vacated. We were in luck! They were all just leaving, so we had the track mostly to ourselves for the rest of the evening. We've never really done speed work before, so I had no idea what to do. Trea wanted to run half-mile repeats, which is just running two laps really fast and then resting a few minutes before doing two more fast laps. This turned out to be great fun!!
I usually average about a 12:00 pace, which is sloooow. But I found out that for at least half-mile intervals, I can run an 8:30 pace! It was dark and getting colder, and it felt so good to run fast, breathe hard and deep and take big strides to the finish line. My lungs were burning from huffing and puffing the cold air, but I didn't care. I ran two half-mile repeats, and then pushed through for three-quarters of a mile at an 8:30 pace. It was tough, but I loved it! Speed work is definitely going to become part of my weekly routine.
The next day, I wanted to do an easy recovery run because my legs were really tired from all that high steppin'. I went to the Bella Vista pond for an easy 3 miles. This path around the pond is where I started running last summer.
I remember running in sweltering heat and barely making it through 90-second intervals before stopping to walk. It's about 2 miles around the pond, and my goal last year was to be able to run all the way around without stopping. Because of the dark winter weather, I've been running a lot on the treadmill and on other paths, so even though I've been running far more than 2 miles at a time, I've never run strong all the way around the pond and been able to keep going...until this week.
My legs felt good, the weather was just right, and I got started about 30 minutes before sunset. There were lots of other runners and walkers out on the path, so I could people watch and zone out. After a few minutes, I realized I was running faster than I normally do. Instead of seeing a 12 on my watch, I saw an 11. I waited for my legs to tell me they were tired, but I continued to feel fine and keep a faster pace. Before I knew it, I was back where I started. I ran all the way around the pond and I wasn't tired. I hadn't stopped to walk. I had a mile left, and it wasn't a big deal. I finished my 3 miles and walked the rest of the way back around to the car just in time to watch a pink, purple and orange sunset. I know that doesn't sound like much, but I was so happy to be able to run strong and finish strong at the place where all this started. It was my own little victory.