For anyone still reading (hi, Dad!): I was scheduled to do a 6 mile tempo at 5:57-6:10 pace, with 2 miles warm-up and 2 miles cool-down. The last time I ran this workout, I ran the 6 mile tempo in 36:03.8 (precisely!), so the clear goal for this one was to finish with a time starting in 35, meaning a sub-6:00 average for the thing. When I start thinking about these times and paces, they seem super intimidating and unreachable, so I tried to not think too much about it! I reminded myself that I'd done 4 miles at 5:53 average two weeks before, so 6 miles at 5:59 was reasonable. My plan was to split something close to 6:10, 6:05, 6:00, 5:57, 5:55, 5:50.
Lucky for me, Jessi joined me on this one. We ran our favorite course, because how else can one hit these tempo paces? The course is flat for our area, has little or no traffic at 5:30 a.m., and is a loop that's nearly 1 mile long, so each split is comparable and it's a great route to get into a rhythm and cruise on. It was 68*, and since we've been running in temperatures in the upper 70s even at sunrise, it felt cool (I think it was in the low 80s with nearly 100% humidity for my recent 5K).
We committed to running 6:10ish pace for the first mile, then proceeded to run it in 5:59.9 (Jessi's watch said 6:01 though, so eh). Running with someone definitely pulls me out faster than I'd go out on my own. The pace felt brisk but sustainable, and we decided we would try to sit at 6:00 for the first 3 miles and then re-evaluate (because, heaven forbid we run a 6:05 second mile after starting at 6:00!). That worked for mile 2, although clearly we should have run that one 0.2 faster. On mile 3 we were hanging out right around 5:58 pace for most of it, but I think it must have finished on the decline part of the loop to give us the 5:55. At that point, I wasn't sure if I would be able to negative split every remaining mile of the workout, but I figured if we just stayed between 5:55-6:00 I would hit my time goal, and I thought I could do that. Mile 4 was another 5:55, and at that point I felt pretty confident about finishing it up at a similar pace.
After mile 4 I started envisioning that I'd just passed mile 11 of my goal half marathon and needed to keep it under 6:00 to hit my time goal. We knocked off mile 5 at 5:54, and Jessi stopped her workout at 5 miles and told me to go get that final mile. Having her with me had helped so much -- she definitely pulled me along a lot during the first 3 miles -- so I hoped I could gut out a strong last mile alone. When I checked my pace partially through I was at 5:52, but it was pretty hard so I really focused on maintaining turnover so I could have my last mile be my fastest. After Jessi stopped, she ran in the opposite direction around the course to meet back up with me, and she then ran me in for the final quarter mile or so, telling me to pretend like it was the end of my goal marathon, and with her help I finished with a strong final split. The final mile of this one was more of a push than the final mile of my last 4 mile tempo, though (it was ironically the exact same split, 5:47). Like most of my tempos, this was probably more like 5 miles of tempo + 1 mile of speed work. My coach once told me that he couldn't even complain about it when I ran negative splits like this (he would tell me NO on that kind of pace for mile 1, for sure).
|Because Jon said, "The loop's not flat, you're just used to it." |
-- this IS flat for the Ozarks though
I'm always amazed at how my coach builds up the length of my tempo runs and I'm able to rise to the occasion. I guess the clear goal for my 8 mile tempo is sub-6:00; let's hope for another morning with temperatures in the 60s for that one! Also, I am figuring out how I can steal Jessi from her college team because I need her on these!
On July 12, 2016, I did my 6 mile tempo at 6:24 pace on this same course. I am so blessed to have a coach and support system that have allowed me to gain 29 seconds from a pace I once thought was near my maximum. Success in distance running is so much about patience, and while patience is not my strong suit I am good at putting in consistent work over time. The process pays off; there will always be hills and valleys, but if you fall in love with the process the results will come.
I heard this song later that day, and it really rings true (God delights in the details of our lives -- even running performances!):
"We can rise above the typical
And be anything but usual
We know, we know, we know
That there's no such thing as impossible
And nothing is unreachable
When we trust the God of miracles
We know, we know, we know
That there's no such thing as impossible"