Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Time is Relative

7 minutes

When you think about it, 7 minutes really isn't that long. Just 7, little, measly minutes. I've waited patiently on hold for that time. It takes me longer than that to eat my lunch, shave my legs, vacuum the house. Seven minutes seems so trivial, but oh how daunting they can be in the running world.

I am 7 minutes shy of breaking the 2 hour half marathon mark and those 7 minutes are going to be the death of me!

Seven minutes means lowering my average pace by a little over 30 seconds. Again, 30 seconds....pffff...what's that?? A 30 second difference in pace is the difference between pushing to win and pushing to throw up! I am determined to shave those minutes and seconds off, one race at a time.

I went out this Saturday to run the Jazz Half Marathon with three other ladies that I run with on the weekends. I picked it up at the last minute because my plans to run the Napa half with my husband fell through. Now, keep in mind, I really hadn't trained for a half. Not trained well, anyway. Napa was going to be my husband's first half and I had been running longer distances with him. Being a new runner, we kept the pace slow and easy. Good for the mileage, but not much for improving speed for me. We were just going to go have fun with the Napa race, so I hadn't pushed myself too much. Not until these last two weeks when we officially started training for the R&R Mardi Gras Marathon did I run at even a "tough" pace. I had a few tempo short runs here and there and kept my long runs right at 8 to 9 miles. Good enough for a fun half, not good enough to conquer it like I want.

So, I had no expectations whatsoever about Saturday's race. I just wanted to run a half with some great, fun gals and damn the time. Ok, so I had a bit of a goal time to try and meet (2:10) but I wasn't going to be upset if I didn't reach it. Again - hadn't really trained for this. The weather was perfect for the race - mid 50s to 60s and NO HUMIDITY (which is rare for Southern Louisiana). The race was kept small at about 2,000 entrants. I had run the route before on prior New Orleans half mary races. It's a nice, flat, easy course. The gun fired and we were off. That first mile is always a little rough until the field opens up. Between dodging other runners and crappy New Orleans street potholes our pace was good, but slower that what we usually run. Then the field opened up and in the next several miles we found our groove. We hit the halfway mark in stride and I realized that I could easily hit my time goal if we kept up the pace. I was feeling great until about mile 10/11....right where my long runs usually ended. Mile 11 was torture for me and it shows in my mile splits. I slowed down quite a bit. But, as I hit that mile 12 marker I looked at my Garmin and realized my time. I was going to not only beat my time goal, but smash it! I found a new energy reserve somewhere in the bowels of my running soul and kicked it in. I burned in that last mile for a 2:07. A new PR for me!

I am so proud of that time considering everything I've been through these last several months with the knee issues. The knees felt great and were relatively pain-free post race. I was ecstatic. If I can pull that time in a last minute pick-up race, imagine what I could do if I actually trained. So, I went right home and developed a new training schedule. I can add speed work back to my running routine now that the knees have healed. And I have signed up for one half a month over the next four months. Hopefully, I will keep creeping closer and closer to my sub-2:00 goal!

7 minutes....thy name is Jennifer.

Today I LOVE: post race highs that last for days!