As I drove to training tonight, clouds rolled in, the temperature dropped into the low 70s, and it started raining–hard enough that I needed to turn on my windshield wipers. This is highly unusual in Central Texas in August, but I wasn’t going to complain!
We are working on the speed portion of our training now–not just increasing distance, but developing a faster, more efficient pace as well. So tonight we ran 1.5 miles to the starting point, then performed what the coach called a steady state run. Instead of running at a conversational pace–where you could chat with a partner–this was faster, maintaining for 20 minutes a pace that would allow only one-word answers. I don’t run with a partner (although I did have Van Halen and Bon Jovi keeping me company today–my iPod apparently thought it was Retro Day) but my Garmin kept track without requiring awkward conversation.
The overcast sky, cool breeze, and occasional raindrop, so unusual this time of year, made an incredible difference. I completed the 1.1 mile loop without slowing down–I even ran up the big hill without walking–and kept on going around again, finishing my 20 minutes with a little sprint at the end! After a quick water break and chat with my coach, I headed back.
As the Beastie Boys told me to fight for my right to paaaarty, the sun peeked through the clouds and I realized that I’d maintained a pace about three minutes per mile faster than I’d averaged over the previous weeks in the heat. For every ten degrees the temperature dropped, my pace sped up by about a minute. I knew this would eventually happen–we train in the Texas summer so that a November race feels easy in comparison. But seeing it in action today was, quite literally, an illuminating moment. My goal to finish in three hours became just a little bit closer to possible.
As Journey so eloquently reminded me, “Don’t stop believin’, hold on to that feelin’.”