I haven’t been timing my runs for a while now. Lacking GPS means I have to plot the route manually in Runkeeper anyway, so I’ve been throwing in a vaguely conservative guess of my average pace (around a 10:30 min. mile) along with it. But yesterday, when I had a 2-miler planned, I decided to time it – partly out of curiosity, partly out of really wanting to get the 100 Fitocracy points for finishing the quest to do a sub-10 minute mile. Not that I was desperate to do it in that run, necessarily, but at least if I tried to up the pace in a way that was sustainable for two miles, I’d have some idea of how close I was.
It was a good run. Big uphill chunk in the first mile that left me out of breath, but a nice gentle downhill slope afterwards to make up for it, and when I glanced at my time after that I was hitting 12 minutes – even after having to dodge around people walking small dogs on leads along the canal, where the small dog universally wants to be on the opposite towpath side to its owner. Upping the pace, even by not just a little amount, felt pretty good and it was a nice break to not be thinking ‘slow down or you’ll burn out before the end’ the entire way. The last half-mile was tough, but doable – and when I hit stop on my timer it read 19.06. Two miles (well, fractionally over) at a 9.21 pace! And I got my quest points, to boot.
Today was a 3-miler, and although I’d planned to take it slowly and time that to see what my normal pace looked like these days, I started off faster than usual and just kept going. Which was ill-advised, really – if I’d been properly planning it, I’d have started off slow and sped up after the first half-mile – but my legs were all ‘wheeeee!’ and I didn’t want to upset them. Mile 2 was tougher; it’s mostly uphill, for one thing, and for another my legs and lungs were already starting to regret going out too fast, so I decided to dial back the pace and go slow and steady until I’d got my breath back. By mile 3, I was feeling better enough to speed up a little again, and started thinking…
It was a 3.17-mile route. I’ve done it loads of times before, and used that for working out my best 5K time, which is 31:34. So… if I could do the whole thing in under 32 minutes, I’d almost definitely be beating my own record – and I knew I’d cut a good few minutes off in the first mile and a half, since the traffic lights I usually hit at 13.30 I’d got to at 11.08. Pushed it for the last half mile, although my calf muscles felt like heavy and brittle cast iron, and coasted onto the downhill slope that ends the route. When I looked at my timer halfway down at the 3.1 mark, it was just coming up to 29 minutes – I sprinted like crazy to the end, and hit stop at 29.36. So that was actually even faster than the last run, a 9.20 pace averaged out over the whole run!
When I first set up a Runkeeper account, my goal was to do a sub-30 5K. Modest, but achievable, and tough enough when you haven’t even run that far ever. My 5K record is now 28:56. I am very, very pleased!