A Speed Workout High

A Speed Workout High

Ask mostly anyone that knows me as a runner and they’ll reassure you that I hate speed workouts.  Work out days are the days I’ve never looked forward to in all of my running life.  I’d rather run 12+ miles than run six 1/2 mile repeats at a fast pace.  Yesterday however has left me on a speed workout high.  I felt strong yesterday, I felt in control of my pace, and my legs didn’t feel sore.  After finishing the workout I felt confident for my race and happy that the workout went so well.

I told Josh on Tuesday that I needed to do a speed workout.  I needed to either do a 6 mile tempo run or a 6 mile progression run, either with a mile warm-up and a mile cool down.  I was leaning more towards the progression run and Josh seconded my choice.  He even told me that he loved doing progression runs at his local park.  So it was decided, I would be doing a 6 mile progression run.

Since Josh is recovering from his marathon in the Cat Skills, he would accompany me during the workout on his bike.  It was a brisk fall evening and I was worried he wouldn’t be warm enough through the next 8 miles.  Turns out, I should have also worried for myself not being warm enough.  I ran .75 miles to the park and reached the mile mark in 8:49.  That warm-up mile set my pace for the rest of the run – all my miles had to be faster than 8:49.

My first progression run mile was an 8:02.  It didn’t seem like an 8:02 and I was still having a full conversation with Josh at this point.  It didn’t even seem like I picked up the pace 47 seconds from my warm-up mile.  I had no choice but to pick it up once again into the 2nd progression mile.

I clocked the 2nd one in 7:49.  Once again, I never felt like I picked it up THAT much.  I was honestly only expecting to pick it up about 5 seconds faster per mile.  I was still talking to Josh every so often at this point as he told me a few stories from his work week.

3rd progression mile was in 7:40.  Another 9 second drop.  I still felt strong and I tried to limit myself to a 5 second drop for the next mile so that I could actually finish all 6 miles in some sort of progressive pace.  Josh’s hands were numb from the cold air coming off the river.  I wanted to run faster so we could get back into his warm house faster.  But 3 miles was still a long way to go.

4th mile:  7:29.  An 11 second drop.  I told myself I only had 2 more loops to do in the park. Only 2 more times that I would have to push the pace.  Only 2 more times until we could run home and get warm.  I wanted Josh to be warm.

5th mile:  7:16.  A 13 second drop.  Well, shoot.  This was the mile Josh told me to catch up the another girl that was running around the park.  I knew I could catch her so I focused on doing so, and I did.  That resulted in the 7:16.  This is also the mile I thought about the huge Reese’s peanut butter cookie I had bought us from my visit to Smithville earlier in the day.  That cookie would taste so good once I got done this workout.

One final mile.  Josh told me to push the pace hard.  It was only one more mile.  I told myself I could try my hardest to get a sub-7.  That would be INSANE.  Josh knew a sub-7 mile was within my reach.  He believed in me more than I believed in myself.  Knowing my luck, I had this feeling I would run a 7:01.  Close, but not close enough.  This loop Josh told me to catch up to a guy that was running around the park.  This made me mad because I was tired.  He seemed so far away.  But I caught him.  I went by him with my strained breathing and he probably thought I was having an asthma attacked.  I forced out a “hello” and a smile.  Josh told me once we crossed the park’s driveway that I had to pick it up.  Only .25 miles to go.  He told me that I have a marathon to PR.  He was right so I had no choice but to listen to him.  My watch beeped to tell me the mile was complete.

6:55.  My watch flashed a 6:55 up on the screen.  I yelled out “DONE!”, threw my hands up in the air, and laughed.  A 6:55.  How did I manage a sub-7 mile, 7 miles in to my 8 mile run after clocking an 8:02, 7:49, 7:40, 7:29, AND a 7:16?  I couldn’t stop laughing.  A mix of happiness, relief, shock, love, exhaustion, and strength flooded down on me.

And then I realized that my arms were completely numb from my fingertips all the way up past my wrists.  My fingers could barely push the buttons on my Garmin Forerunner.  My hands and wrists hurt more than my legs.  Josh and I were both excited but freezing.  We needed to make our way a mile back home. He was shivering, I was shivering, we needed warmth.

I finished my mile cool down in absolute ecstasy.  For most of my cool down I was still in absolute shock that I had finished with a 6:55.  For some people, a 6:55 isn’t a big deal.  That might be their norm.  Speed is relative.  I haven’t ran a sub-7 mile since 4th of July when I ran a 6:45 as the 1st mile of a 4 mile race. Some people run 6:55 miles during marathons.  Some people run faster than 6:55 miles during marathons. But for me, I push myself to get to a 6:55 and I couldn’t be happier with achieving that.

That 6:55 mile left me feeling strong, confident, and more ready than ever to take on this Philadelphia Marathon in 23 days.  Although I don’t plan on running anywhere close to 6:55 pace, knowing I can progressively push my body even when it’s tired or cold is powerful in itself.  I’m still on a high from yesterday’s workout.  The workout showed me that hard work pays off, sometimes you just have to be patient.

You might not be able to run a 6:55 at first, but over time as more and more miles are ran, you might just progressively reach that 6:55 – even if it takes many miles into your workout.

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 1 of 3)

15 Things I learned in 2015 (part 1 of 3)

Simply put, 2015 was a year of limit testing, adventure finding, friendship making, friendship keeping, mileage logging, destination seeking, stress managing, misty-eye limiting, knowledge learning, wisdom gaining, belief persevering, goal setting, goal reaching, and love enduring.

In the last few weeks of 2015, I will be writing three separate blog posts that total fifteen (of the many) things I learned in the past 365 days (I don’t want to bore you with an extremely long list of 15 things; therefore, I’ll break it into groups of five!).  Here’s part 1 of 3 – let’s jump right in!

#1:  Don’t be afraid to fight for something you think you deserve:  I learned this in the beginning of this past fall semester.  I had already secured an internship in Delaware over the summer and was merely one step away from having it approved by my university.  To my surprise (and to the entire exercise science department’s surprise), I was not permitted to do an internship in the state of Delaware.  Instantly, an overwhelming amount of stress weighed down on my shoulders.  Upon being informed of this by the registrar’s office, I met with my advisor and our department chairperson.  They were equally baffled by this new “rule” that nobody had been informed of.  I scheduled a one-on-one meeting with the dean of the college of science and technology.  He informed me of this new “rule” which had not been formally announced to the rest of the university yet.  I was basically being punished for being a prepared and responsible student which I didn’t find to be very fair.  I exhausted every option I could possibly get my hands into.  My professors allowed me to exhaust every option even though they probably knew it was a lost cause.  I wasn’t about to give up on something I had earned.  I needed this internship in order to graduate.  In the end, even though I had to find a new internship because my university refused to implement a grandfather clause for me and a few of my fellow classmates, I learned that sometimes things in life are going to be unfair. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and fight for something you worked hard for.

#2:  Trust God.  He has a plan for you:  When things don’t work out the way you want them to or detours re-route your life plan, trust God.  Things may seem unfair in the present moment.  You probably ask yourself over and over again, “why me?  Why is this happening to me?”.  In the past year there have been many detours that have left me feeling uneasy, stressed, and overwhelmed.  The doubts and fears in my mind played on repeat for weeks on end.  But then, things got better.  The things I was worried about worked out on their own.  Yes, I had to find a new internship but maybe this is where I was supposed to intern all along.  Yes, my housing plans for the fall semester got screwed over but perhaps it made me a better person for learning how to deal with difficult situations.  Yes, one of my best friends moved away but maybe God did this to prove that there is no distance apart that limits the bond between two friends.  Yes, my dad quit his job to pursue opening a small business but maybe this was God’s way of bringing a new purpose and new friendships into our lives.  In life, there will always be obstacles that will set you back.  Don’t let them keep you from moving forward.  No matter how stressful it may seem in the present moment, things will get better.  God has a plan and I’ve learned to trust His plan because there’s a bigger picture in life than what we’re seeing right in front of us.  If it’s not meant to be, it’s simply not meant to be.  Likewise, if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.  Trust God.  He knows what He’s doing.

#3:  Don’t be afraid to try new things:  I’ve always been the kind of person that is 100% content with staying within my comfort zone.  I know what I like and what I don’t like.  I will use the same things over and over again if they work they way I need them to work.  But this year I made decisions that broke some of my norms.  One of the changes I made (which took a lot of persuasion from others and personal courage) is that I decided to switch to wearing Altras when running.  For my entire 7 years of running, I’ve always worn Asics.  Every pair of running shoes that I ever trained in were Asics.  I believed in Asics because I never dealt with injuries wearing these shoes and because I knew the exact tread and shoe model I needed for training purposes.  After talking to a few running friends who also made the transition to Altras, I talked myself into trying a pair for myself.  My dad, as a running/biking store owner, switched me into Altra Torins and I’m happy to say that I’ll probably never wear another brand of running shoes ever again.  My toes have space to move around, my feet lay more naturally in the shoe, and my running form has probably become more efficient (I say “probably” because I’ve never actually analyzed myself running so I don’t know what “efficient” and “unefficient” running actually looks like).  There’s no way I’ll ever switch back to Asics!  This was a huge step for me because I always avoid stepping outside my comfort zone.  Now, Altras are my new comfort zone.  #EmbracetheSpace

#4: Hard work will pay off in the long run:  I’m not just saying this because I’m a runner and I appreciate the pun, but to everyone who has ever worked hard to achieve their goals and aspirations.  For the past 17 years of my life, I’ve been attending school (this includes two years of pre-school because I guess one year wasn’t enough for me to learn how to count to 10).  Just a few weeks ago I officially finished all my college classes required to earn my Bachelor’s degree.  The only requirement I have left to complete is my internship which I will be completing in the spring.  I received my semester grades just last night and I couldn’t be happier with them!  I earned four A’s, one A-, and one B+.  For a semester of stress, chaos, six classes (5 of which were core classes for my major), and 18 credits I was ecstatic about the result of hours upon hours at the library and re-reading over and over again lecture notes.  Honestly, I expected maybe one or two A’s and the rest of my grades to be B’s. I never expected such a good outcome for a semester of hard work.  (And I apologize to anyone who thinks I’m bragging but I worked hard for 17 years of my life so I think I deserve to brag a little). But this just proves that when you put every ounce of energy into something you want so badly to achieve that you’ll reach your desired outcome.  I put 17 years of education into earning the ever-so-desired college degree and I am now only one internship away from having that degree.  If you want something so badly that you’re willing to put continuous effort into it, I promise that’ll it will pay off in the long run.  No pun intended.

#5:  Make your own path in life:  There are no written rules that require you to start at a four-year college or university.  There are no written rules that require you to stay at one college for your entire secondary education.  There aren’t even written rules that say you HAVE to go to college.  I will happily say that I started my college education at a community college.  All my high school friends went off to their respective 4-year colleges and I stayed home.  I don’t regret this decision one bit because I was able to figure out what I actually wanted to do with my life, I found a part-time job and made some money, and I met a few of my closest friends who will be there for me through all the ups and downs of life (and who still today are my best friends).  Actually, these are the friends that inspired me to make my own path in life.  They might not even realize how much they’ve influenced my life but they have.  These people have taught me that it’s okay to take the path less traveled.  These people have taught me that you have to pursue that dream job you’ve always aspired to have or to cross that item off of a life bucket list.  After realizing that I can indeed follow my own path, I think that I’ve come to the conclusion that I will not be attending graduate school after I earn my Bachelor’s degree.  People might view this negatively because young people these days are expected to get their Master’s degree to make themselves “more appealing” to employers.  Yes, I realize that this is a potential benefit of attending grad school but I feel at this moment in my life that I have other things to achieve and pursue than a Master’s degree.  I feel that the classroom limits how much you can learn and I’m excited to learn things in an applied setting.  This may be breaking the norm that society has created but there is a huge world out there that needs to be explored and fixed and I don’t feel that I can explore nor fix this world sitting in a classroom.  It’s all too common for people to fall into the “supposed-to” trap.  They might say “well now I’m supposed to find a job” or “now I’m supposed to get married” or “now I’m supposed to have kids”.  There is no “supposed to” for any of these things. I know plenty of people who haven’t followed such norms and these people are some of the happiest people I’ve ever met!  You don’t have to follow the norm of society.  Don’t let this crazy world determine what comes next in life just because “everyone else is doing it this way” – make your own path!

To be continued…