The Mile: Age 26

>> Friday, May 14, 2010

Those of you who have been reading (never home)maker for a while may have read my Ode to my 17-year-old Self post. Back then, The Mile was an event that absolutely terrified me. I hated it with the very core of my being. I felt it was unfair and just plain wrong that our gym requirement included the Presidential Physical Fitness Tests . . . culminating with four lengthy laps around the track.

I would huff and puff my way to an OK time and spend the rest of the day feeling awful. I wasn't athletic in any way, shape, or form. I was a classic band nerd -- including EVERYTHING else I could get myself into: jazz band, bell choir, community orchestra, town band, etc. I was the president of chorus -- and, much like with band, was in every single ensemble that would take me. I was also in the school musicals. You get the picture. I couldn't have cared any less about sports. And though I was always thin, it was certainly not in a healthy way.

Anyway, I'm proud to say that one of my new running goals for summer is to respect speed work like it's my boss. Well, actually, Stephen will be my boss -- he's committed to teaching me how "real" speed work is done. You know, all that stuff the athletes learned while I was dancing across stage singing "Naughty Baby" in our production of Crazy for You.

OK. To start, Tuesday I ran the dreaded mile. It's been FOREVER since I've timed myself. And since we've been focusing chiefly on distance training -- it's also been FOREVER since I've made myself run all-out fast. The last time I timed myself running a single mile, I was just shy of 7 minutes (6:58 back in 2004).

This time? 6:48!!! And I have proof (this chart is from using Stephen's Garmin, so we know it's more accurate than mine):

Check. It. Out. Anyway, I'm excited to start working more on my speed. And I'm especially happy that Stephen will be helping me, because he's like a speed God. (Of course, I'll be sharing his words of wisdom and motivations along my journey.) My goal is to get this number down to maybe 6:30 by the end of the summer (I will be timing myself again in late August). Now, I often get ahead of myself, but there's this nifty tool called the Race Time Predictor. It estimates your race finish times for a variety of distances using a single timed race.

Based on my 6:48 time, my age, etc. -- all those "predicted" times for me are ALMOST spot on (at least for my recent race times with the 5K, 10K, and half marathon distances -- my 15K was actually about a minute faster). It's super weird. What's even stranger (or, perhaps, more exciting?) is that my predicted marathon time is 3:41:44. If I could pull this off and shave just one minute more off that time . . . I'd, GASP, qualify for BOSTON!

We'll see about that. Definitely an ultimate goal of mine. But as you may remember, many things can happen in the middle of a marathon (read all about it here). I thought I could finish in about 3:55 last year. But halfway though, a foot injury had me hobbling for 12 or so painful miles. But that's not the point. The point is: In the absence of a clear goal right now (I'm not hoping to PR at the Lake Placid Half because it's so hilly), I created one for myself. Moreover, this month's issue of Runner's World has me thinking about my overall fitness. There's an entire section devoted to a "test," if you will, that's eerily similar to the Presidential Fitness Test we had back in school.

So, over the next couple weeks, I'll be posting my results as I work my way through all the challenges. It's a way for me to get moving and discover my potential. But I hope you, too, will feel inspired to push yourselves to the MAX. It's fun. It's often, at least in the case of my mile, pleasantly surprising.

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