Slowing Down to Speed Up

Shhhhh….don’t tell anyone. After running 180 miles around Lake Tahoe, doing in 50K in California, DNF’ing at mile 30 in the Tahoe 50 Mile race, running 120 miles across the Rockies at altitude, and doing numerous half marathons, I finally ran my first 5K race–over a year and a half after I started running.

Honestly, I’ve been afraid to face the elephant in the room–my lack of speed. As with any activity, we tend to spend more time on things we think we’re good at and less on those we think we aren’t. I’ve always given the excuse that because I’m not fast, I might as well go long. But, the opportunity came up to run a local 5K charity race and for once, I didn’t have to help put it on. The race organizer asked me how fast I thought I would run it and I offered up that I’d be lucky to break 30 minutes. Surprise surprise! I ran it in 28:33. That’s just under a 9 minute mile pace!

As it happens, in October I was extremely busy putting on the Huntsman World Senior Games Track and Field Meet, hosting over 400 athletes from all around the world for three days. Following on the heels of that was the Gold Butte Days 5K and Half Marathon races, along with the Gold Butte Days Festival, that I helped put on. So, not much time for running and certainly not any long runs. And, probably for the first time, I was forced into recovery – resting this body that has seen so many miles in such a short time.

Without a particular goal, I decided to start all over with a 50K training plan. Of course the first several weeks call for short runs of 2, 4, and 6 miles. At the same time, my training partner Gary decided he wants to build speed again (and thinks I should too), so we’ve started weekly track workouts as well. It all seems to be coming together nicely.

My road runs have gotten much faster. Instead of 10:30 to 11:00 pace, I’m at or under 10:00 pace. I even hit a 9:22 pace on a 2.2 mile run from my house, with a big hill. At the track, I’ve been running 200’s at around 50 seconds, which is pretty fast for me. And, this has all translated to a great trail run a few weeks ago to the Bunkerville Train. It’s about a 13 mile round trip with about 1800ft gain. I went up at about a 15 min pace and down at 11 min pace.

But, the speed work is sneaky tiring. You get home and feel fine. In fact, you can do several runs and feel fine. However, it soon catches up to you. After about three hard weeks of this, I’m feeling a bit beat up and tired. For once, my legs want to quit before my lungs.

I’ll press on, adding a few miles a week, looking for that next big goal.

Terri Rylander

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