I am a sound sleeper. I am asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow and I only wake up ...
a) to the sound of my alarm
b) to the sounds of my children over the monitor, whether in the middle of the night or playing in their beds in the morning (on the weekends)
c) 10 hours later (or longer!).
The alarm is obviously a critical component because I never get 10 hours of sleep. Thursday morning I had my alarm set for 4:45 AM, figuring I would wake up around 5:00 AM, after snoozing a bit. I have to hit the snooze at least once, so I always build in extra time for that.
Well, I stirred Thursday morning and checked my watch, thinking to myself, I feel like I should have heard my alarm by now. This is usually followed by the panic of knowing that I have overslept because I either a) set the alarm but did not turn it on or b) set the alarm for PM instead of AM. I was confused when the indiglo on my Timex showed that it was exactly 5:00 AM. I checked my alarm and sure enough, I had set is for PM, not AM. I remember thinking to myself how lucky it was that I woke up on my own … and then I was asleep again.
I stirred again and thought, “crap, why didn’t I get up when I realized I had not set my alarm?”, but was relieved to see it was only 5:15 AM. I really just needed my snooze, I guess. This has only happened once before, which is why before every race I set 4 different alarms to make sure that I do not oversleep!
With that, I got up and got ready for my Thursday 10 miler and tempo run.
I run a two mile loop around my neighborhood, so I do all of my splits in 2 mile increments and plan my runs accordingly. I decided on a 2 mile warm up, followed by a 4 mile tempo run and a 4 mile warm down.
I started my warm up lap listening to Freakonomics on my iPod, but less than a mile into my run, my iPod battery died. Ugghh. My initial reaction was to run into the house when I finished the first 2 mile loop to let it charge for 2 miles, so that I could have it for the last 6 miles of my run. Instead, I ended up deciding to suck it up and run without music or audio books because on occasion, it is good race simulation.
I have been doing 6 mile tempo runs (2 mile warm up, 2 mile tempo, 2 mile warm down) off and on for the last month or so, so I was nervous to be extending the tempo portion of the run to 4 miles. My Tuesday 10 mile runs are done at my ‘I can run all day’ conversational pace somewhere between 9:00s and 9:30s, so pushing below 8:00s is definitely outside of my comfort zone.
I made a concerted effort not to push too hard for the first two miles, knowing that I had to do an additional 2 miles. I tried to just keep the pace just below 8:00s. I felt good for the entire 2 miles and while I could not have held a good conversation, I was not suffering. With the first two tempo miles behind me, I took a swig of G2 and gave myself a short pep talk heading into the next 2 miles. I asked myself what I was so afraid of – I mean, what is the worst that could happen, I could bonk and have to slow down during a training run? Not a huge loss, right? So, with that, I was off for the next 2 miles of tempo work. I was shocked at how much easier the second 2 miles felt at an even faster pace. It was like my body just needed some time to warm up and then it knew what to do. I was thrilled with the results and almost considered pushing it to a 6 mile tempo run, but decided to stick to plan.
For miles 7 and 8, I just ran comfortably, not checking my Garmin for pace. I was excited to see my split for those 2 miles, given the low level of exertion. The last 2 miles are what I dub the “Victory Lap” and invariably, I tend to speed up for that lap because I have a horse-to-stables mentality. Again, I was shocked to see I was running low 8:00s so comfortably and so far into my run.
Miles 1 + 2: 9:01 pace
Miles 3 + 4: 7:53 pace
Miles 5 + 6: 7:39 pace
Miles 7 + 8: 8:25 pace
Miles 9 + 10: 8:12 pace
Avg Run Pace: 8:14 pace
Oh, and I got to watch a beautiful sunrise to boot!
So, what is making me faster?
Maybe it was my pre-run meal the evening before, which included delicious butter flavored birthday cake with chocolate icing (yum!)? Maybe it is my new Saucony shoes? Maybe it was the cooler temps (run fast to stay warm)? Maybe it is my new confidence and previous tempo runs paying off?
All I know, is that it was the best run I have had in as long as I can remember! I just hope I can duplicate that feeling next week.
p.s. don't forget to enter the TriSwim Giveaway . I will do the drawing early next week!