After 8 weeks of training, we had our end of training 5k Tuesday night, with the promise of pizza, beer, and a little social time after. It was just a neighborhood route (thankfully the track was taken, so we didn't have to circle that damn thing 12+ lousy times), and maps out about right, so I feel good when I say that I PR'd that sucker!
Finished with a 29:40, which is well above the 8 minute/mile goal pace they somehow calculated for me. I can run about 1/4 mile at that pace and I'm wheezing, so that's clearly way off. But a sub-30 5k has been my goal pretty much since I started running, so it was cool to see that come to fruition.
I learned a lot from this class, but very different things from what I expected to learn. I thought it would be like picking up my current range of paces and shifting them all down together. But I found that my fastest pace didn't improve at all. In fact, between gaining some weight in going back to work and sitting at my desk 50 hours a week and having considerably less time to work out, I feel like my fastest pace actually got slower.
What happened, though, is that my easy and moderate paces have improved, in that they're a little faster and they feel a little easier. And since, as a distance runner, those paces are my bread and butter, I'm okay with that outcome. It's not a huge difference, but I feel stronger in general and I have more trust that I can push myself when I need to. Breathing hard, even for several miles, doesn't scare me like it used to.
The other thing I've learned is that I hate doing all run. Hate. It. And if I hated it but it made me measurably faster, I might be willing to suck it up. But it doesn't. I guarantee I'll run a faster half marathon Sunday doing 3/.45 intervals than if I tried to do all run. And I'll enjoy it more and finish feeling victorious rather than beaten down.
So, there you have it: My principle takeaway from 8 weeks of all-run speed training is that I'm going back to run/walk. Ha.
Seriously though, that Levee Run 10k was so shitty. I can definitely take some positives away from it, but the negatives, along with what I've learned about myself through this speed class, actually made me re-evaluate what I'm doing, what my goals are, what's best for me long term.
I realized that the fastest I ever want to run is what I think of as my "I'm free!" run. I have no idea what pace you'd call it, but it's my "running feels good and I'm not going to think about form or pace or anything. I'm just going to gallop along like a little kid." It's not so much a pace as a state of mind that's not beholden to timers and PRs and goals.
It's just running because it's fun and feels primal and epic.
I'm genuinely excited about Rock and Roll Half on Sunday. The weather is supposed to be perfect, I don't have any injuries, I feel like my head's in the right place. I'm just ready to have a great time and get back to having fun out there. And then eating ALL THE THINGS afterward.