Due to some scheduling conflicts this past week (read: laziness) I had moved some of my runs back a few days and was facing an 8 mile tempo run on Saturday after having just done an 8 mile run on Friday. Combine that with the fact that I have yet to complete an 8 mile tempo run at the suggested pace (9:00 minute miles) and you have a recipe for a VW Jetta run if I ever saw one. I was not looking forward to Saturday's run, but I thought I would go anyway so that I could at least log the miles.
I started out with a nice slow warm up mile, knowing that this run was more destined for failure than that kid in my macro economics class who always wore a helmet and drooled on the desk. I began to pick up the pace at the one mile mark and for some reason unbeknownst to me I also decided that this would be a good time to play around with my stride. I have done this in the past in an attempt to get closer to 180 strides/minute, which appears to be some kind of magic number.
Instead of focusing on how fast I was going, I was focusing on shortening my stride and increasing my turnover speed. I got to the end of the first tempo mile in 8:45 which means that I was a touch too fast (that may be the only time you ever see that phrase in writing on this blog). At the end of the 5th tempo mile I was still on a 9 minute mile pace and was feeling pretty good. This is huge for me because lately I have been fading around the 5 mile mark on my tempo runs and by mile 6 or 7 I'm way off the 9 minute mile pace.
I took a Cliff Shot and kept my focus on shorter strides, faster turnover. I wasn't feeling tired at all, in fact I felt quite superhuman. I was up and over the hills that usually cause me problems without even feeling them. By mile 7 I knew that I was easily going to complete this tempo run at the suggested pace. Nothing was stopping me know. I finished up the 8th tempo mile in a time of 1:11:38 which is a pace of 8:58 per mile. Who's the man? What? I can't hear you. Who's the man?
This was a major breakthrough for me, and I don't often boast on this blog but I felt great after that run. I finished with a cool down mile bringing the total to 10 miles in 1:30:45 and even with the warm up and cool down added in that averages out to a 9:05 minute mile pace. This is the first time during my training that I've really felt like a sub 2 hour half marathon might be possible.
Of course, I came to find out later that Amy had just run a 15K at a 7:58 pace! Thanks a lot Amy! You couldn't let me bask in the glory of my 8:58 pace? You just had to rain on my parade! Some friend you are!