FIRST FIVE MILER.
First that is in 5 months. Today, it was finally time to start the 25k training. Only 10.5 more to go! No more playing around doing 5ks. No siree. Get out there and do the long slow distance.
Since it had been snowing almost steadily since Thursday, and more heavily starting yesterday afternoon-whiteouts driving home, and I live in the city!--I figured the roads would be a factor this morning. I was happy to see, however, that my tax dollars had been at work overnight, so the plows must have been out doing their job, because the roads were fairly clean. At least the main roads were. I knew there would be no way they would have plowed the side streets. So my run was planned to go to the park, a popular meeting place for runners and triathletes. I hadn't planned to run with anyone, but I knew there would be a group there training for the 25k--the Mentor Group--so I knew I wouldn't be out there alone. Whether I would be last, however, I had no way of knowing.
I figured 5 miles would be good, considering I had been doing 5ks for the past two weeks, and a 4 mile race on New Year's Day. I just would walk if I needed to. I was really hoping to be done in an hour, since the hour mark was really my next step up on time. I don't know why, but as I approached the park, I started getting this nervous feeling, like I was doing a race, or something I had never done before. I guess I was apprehensive. I just did not know how I would do or even if I could do it.
I arrived at the park just before 8 am. It was just starting to get lighter out, but with the snow cover it seemed brighter than usual. I didn't really know what the temperature was, but from the many I saw standing around, I knew it was going to be another face mask day. That's okay, another way of staying anonymous to people I don't know.
All the parking spots were filled when I arrived, if not with cars then with piles of snow, so I had to drive around for a while to find a spot. The only spot available was where everyone had gathered to meet before the run. All right, I'm thinking, you people are just going to have to move, because there's no way I'm parking way on the other side of the park. And move they did, as they started out on their run, and there I am, trapped in my car, unable to move, until they had all passed by. They stared at me like I was one of the animals in the zoo. Yes, I do want to park my car; thanks for not moving over!
So by the time I parked, got my face mask on, and got out of the car, most of the group had left the park and were out on the road. I would definitely be playing catch-up from here on out.
My legs felt good, and with the face mask, I was able to breathe easy and relaxed. I passed a few people coming back from what they call "7 at 7," where they meet at 7 am and run 7 miles and then hook up with whoever shows up later to run at 8. Most of these people are the hardcore runners or triathletes, and I have only joined them once on this early loop. Not that I could keep up anyway!
I really didn't know what route the group was going to do, since the training plan varies from year to year, and with whoever is in charge. I was glad to see they were taking the same route I wanted to take, the same route Shelley and I took when she was here in December. I can't really count that day as a 5 mile run, since we walked a lot of it, but it still qualified as a workout. This route is rolling hills mainly, with a few steep climbs, so not the easiest route, but at least the roadway was fairly clean, and with low traffic, we were able to run on the pavement most of the time.
I was able to start catching up with people but still hadn't passed anyone but some walkers. The main group was pulling away quickly. I had to wonder just how "new" to running most of those runners were, since they clearly were at least a half mile ahead. But I noticed on their return that a lot of them were young, probably under 20, so today, youth equalled speed.
If it weren't for my nose running constantly, I might have been able to keep going most of the way, but had to stop to blow my nose so waited for a good time to do my first walk break. That came sometime after the 1.5 mile point. Once I cleared my nose out, I was able to get going and breathe again. Its hard to blow your nose when you have a face mask on, and apparently I'm just not coordinated enough to take it off and put it back on when running. So I walked a minute and a half.
I was at 20 minutes, and was starting to despair a little that I wouldn't hit the halfway point by 30 minutes. But apparently, my idea of what was 5 miles and the group's 5 miles was different, because before I knew it, I had reached the turnaround, at a point in the road sooner than I expected. A few people called out to me, those who recognized me, and the rest smiled or said hello. I just smiled with my eyes. One of the women helping with the group, who generously gave her time--and gas--to drive to the halfway spot and wait, yelled out as I approached, "If you're doing 5 miles, you turn here." I looked at my watch and saw I was dead on 30 minutes. I was happy.
I ran a little farther and decided to take another walk break. My nose needed attention again. A couple of my friends had passed me before I reached the turnaround, and I calculated that had I started with them, I would be with them now. But I wasn't going to catch them anytime soon, so walking now was a good thing.
Starting back up, I had to climb another hill. I hadn't realized how long it was going down, but I easily passed one woman there. I seem to be doing okay on hills at least.
On the return trip, I couldn't help notice how truly beautiful it was out. It was cold, to be sure, but being dressed properly and moving along, it really wasn't that cold feeling. The sun was shining, and everything looked new and clean with the newly fallen snow.
I felt a little stronger at this point too, and really thought I might catch up with my friends ahead, but no luck. Even when they stopped to walk, I still couldn't get close enough to catch them, and then of course I had to take another walk break. If not for the hills and the running nose, I might have dropped one of the breaks, but as I said, this route is rolling hills, the whole way.
I checked my watch as I came over the last hill and saw I still had 7 minutes to finish, if I wanted to get done in an hour. I knew then I had it. I was getting tired, no doubt, but I knew I would make it.
Just before the very end, as I turned back into the park, the guy in charge of the Mentor Group, Paul, came running back (someone does this the whole time--run ahead and check on the front people and then run back to check on the slower people) and said, "First time?" I just said yes, and left it at that. It was almost like a first time. I was really glad to be getting done though. I ran to the last stop sign, hit my watch, and sighed with relief: 1:00 flat! Twelve minute miles.
After that, I headed to the gym and planned to do a swim. I wasn't too cold, but my hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows were wet and frozen. That has to be from the facemask and all the breath steam that comes up over the top. I was really surprised at how wet my hair was, but I never even felt it.
One thing I notice while getting my suit on is all the red areas on my skin. I'm always amazed at how red all the "fat" areas are after running outside. Maybe that's a good thing? The fat is heated up and is burning away.
The pool has been pleasantly warmer lately. Since they fixed the heater, I think they raised the temperature by a few degrees too. Much nicer for the winter! My feet were still freezing, but the water felt warm on all the still cold parts. There was another guy swimming, so every time he went past me, I got a face full of water. I figured good triathlon swim training. Twenty five minutes was enough, and I was done for the day!