As with every year since I started running, I have goals for this year. My first goal is to simply increase my weekly mileage on a consistent basis – that is already proving tough, but becoming a running coach has definitely helped focus my mind on what I need to do and for the first time I am setting myself a weekly schedule (my old approach of getting out when I felt like it, and when I could, far too frequently left me short of the miles I should have been doing). Having a plan makes me accountable, although only to myself so it isn’t perfect. I can definitely see why people would hire a coach.
This plan is all quite recent and this year has thrown some obstacles in my way (including the weather) so I wasn’t expecting to see any improvements (in fact if I compare to last year, my February mileage was down on last year, which I thought was pretty low anyway – however, March is definitely up). I have also been focused on runs at a conversational pace, or sometimes up to tempo, so, when I was at the start line of Miles for Music on Sunday I had no real expectations.
Of course, I didn’t stick with my race plan (start off slow and pick it up if I could) and I knew I was going too fast, but still couldn’t bring myself to dial in the pace. It really didn’t help that there was a huge head wind (although admittedly a back wind too obviously) and it was cold. I did start to slow and my legs felt weak after about 9 miles. As I progressed to about 11 miles my form was poor – I no longer had the strength in my legs and my feet were hitting the ground with a mid-foot strike rather than my usual forefoot strike. I focused on trying to regain my form and a friend who was watching the race told me afterwards that my stride was clearly shorter in the final stages, and I could feel the calf muscles starting to cramp. This year I feel I should have been more prepared for the distance, so I am guessing that the speed is what made the difference to how my body responded.
While I am definitely hoping to be faster later in the year, this race was a promising start (despite the demoralizing fact that I was only 16th in my age group!) – this has been my first race of the year every year since I joined RVRR and this was my fastest time – almost a minute faster than last year.
After the 20k, there is also a 5k and a 1 mile event. My 7 year old daughter wanted to do the 5k, so I joined her for that – glad that it was slow because my legs couldn’t take much more. Having said that she did a great job coming in with a clock time of 38:12.