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Monday, June 16, 2014

First Paced Long run

This past saturday was my first paced long run with my HFM group.

The run was scheduled to start at 7am, so I tried to go to bed early friday night. I emphasize the try because I didn't end up going to bed until after 11, and then, despite taking some melatonin, had a really hard time sleeping.

When the alarm went off at 6, I actually had to talk myself out of bed, but I got up, dressed, made some coffee, and got in the car.

When I got to the Culver Rd. location where we were meeting, I was directed to where to park and then sat in my car nervously for a minute before heading inside. My stomach was a mess, I hadn't been able to eat anything and had barely touched the coffee I had made.

The inside of the store was loud and crowded. Again, it seemed like a lot of people knew each other. I found my pace leader, but she was hanging out near an area of the store they kept asking us to keep clear, so I kinda just found somewhere to stand and kept an eye on where she was.

I had made the decision to not bring my phone on the run, so I wasn't sure what time anything really happened at, but after about half an hour of standing around they had us move outside and huddle up for another group picture.

We separated into our pace groups, and then they had us do a staggered start. My pace group (the 12 min/mile group) was one of the last groups, followed by the 13's and 14's. We started jogging through the parking lot, and then had to stop dead in a long line of the groups ahead of us waiting to cross the first intersection. After that we settled into the pace and I tucked myself in behind someone. There were a lot of admonishments to stay "two abreast" as we were running along roadways at this point.

I felt super tired and not at my best at this point, but the pace felt slow, and I spent a good deal of time beating myself up for not pushing harder at the time trial. I was also cold. I was the only one in my pace group wearing a jacket. Everyone else seemed to be in shorts and tanks. I have no idea how they did it, I was freezing at the start, even in my capri's and jacket.

Once we got about a mile into the run, I was settled in, and the pace started to feel comfortable. We were running through some nice neighborhoods at this point so I was kinda just enjoying the scenery and letting it ride. At one point we had to stop at a red light, which is apparently called a "red light social" (at least that's what some people were calling out when we stopped.)

Right around then I started to feel the pace.

I am apparently awful at pacing myself. I have, in the past, let my exertion level dictate my pace. I have never run a paced run like this, let alone one this far (five miles.)

A little under halfway through the run, I started having to work to keep the pace. My focus narrowed down to the three people around me, the two in front and the one next to me. I just kept focusing on keeping the woman's sneakers in front of me the same distance away. I started to worry about being able to maintain the pace for the full run.

I was starting to heat up, but I was still just on the warm side of comfortable with my jacket on. Especially when a breeze hit me, I was glad I had brought it.

Running along neighborhood sidewalks like we were helped keep me distracted from my growing discomfort at the pace, since the sidewalks were old, some even the old slate sidewalks. There was a lot of "Urban trail running" as one of the coaches running with us called it: jumping to avoid an entire pizza splayed out across the side walk, dodging lips and holes in the sidewalk, or planters and poles along it.

Somewhere around here I started hoping for another red light so I could stop and rest. I kept telling myself that this was why I was doing this, to get better, so I better get used to being uncomfortable. It was starting to really upset me that I was having such a hard time keeping the pace.

The next "red light social" we had was about a mile out from the finish of the run, and by that point i was actually warm enough to really want to take my jacket off. So I tied it around my waist, awkwardly. There has to be a better way to do that.

The last bit of the run included a nasty uphill, which I had to really push to get up, followed by a nice downhill back to the Armory. This is where I realized that the terrain affects my pace and perceived exertion a lot. I had been dying, struggling to keep the pace. As soon as we hit that downhill, I had to keep reigning it in to keep from crashing into the people in front of me. I also suddenly felt like I could run for a few more miles.

We finished out the run, the full marathon group headed back out for an additional three miles, and kinda milled around with the rest of the pace groups. They had some Nuun water for us to drink, and so I had a small cup of that and stretched a bit before stoping to thank my pace leader and heading out.

I was really dispirited after the run, worried that I've bitten off more than I can chew with the 12 min/miles.

I've got a better perspective on it now, looking back at it and taking a look at the elevation change on the route we took. I was expecting it to be easy, and it wasn't. Now I know I have to work for it.


  1. Are you training to go faster? I don't know what kind of training plan you are on for a race, or if you are even on one, but I know all of my training I have done says that long runs should be easy runs. You should be able to hold a conversation while running.
    Basically, don't do anything too crazy and injure yourself! If you feel good and determined, then you go ahead and kick that runs butt. I am super impressed you're doing this!!!

    1. Yeah, I'm training to increase my pace. I joined the "Advanced" Half training group, since my goal is to finish my next half with a faster (and hopefully more consistent) time. We actually have coaches working with us, and setting up our training plans, so hopefully that'll keep me from burning myself out. We'll see how it goes in the next few weeks!