Okay, I lied. It wasn’t the kind of workout most people think of as speedwork or interval training or whatever. Instead, I ran my three-mile neighborhood loop at the fastest pace I could maintain without walking.

Now, let’s be honest. My 5K pace is slow by many runners’ standards. But it represents a huge improvement for me over the last two years. I can run faster than that for short distances, intervals, on the track, that kind of thing. Over three miles, though, the degree of difficulty increases. But tonight my friend K ran a kick-ass three miles, so I was inspired to follow her footsteps.

I thought my sore calf might present a problem, and two steps out of the driveway I knew I’d been right. But it was more of a dull ache than a sharp pain, so I figured I’d just deal with it.

This route has three (relatively minor) hilly sections, the longest being about a quarter-mile right at the start of mile two. Sometimes when I run this way, I allow myself to walk a bit. Not today. I powered through the whole thing. Not only did I not walk the inclines, I stuck to my race pace the whole way. I even had to run some of the third mile in the grass (my neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks) dodging traffic on the street, and I still managed to run the first and third miles at almost the same pace. Not quite a negative split, but the pace graph on my Garmin data rises steadily over the last seven minutes of my run. It’s an effort I’m pretty pleased with.

Today it was speed over distance, but this weekend I’m going long. It’s my best chance to get in 12-14 miles before the half, and I really need that to feel confident going into May. That, and an ice pack on my calf. 😉

And when I put “need,” “speed,” and “ice” in the same paragraph, it reminds me of Top Gun.