Five Real Miles

For whatever reason, I have had a mental block on a 5 mile run. Intimidated by it, I suppose.

It was difficult mapping out a relatively safe route around the neighborhood. I wouldn’t be able to listen to my music. It seemed like I would be very far from home around the 3 mile mark. Everything about 5 miles seemed like an obstacle.

Yesterday, I pulled on my big girl panties, strapped a bottle of water to my hip, stuck two GU gels in my pack, and set out. I didn’t use headphones out of necessity until the last, very safe and wide mile on a suburban cross street.

I turned left out of the driveway and headed south on Beulah Road. At Hopkins, I turned left and headed south/southwest for a little less than a mile, where I turned left on Old Hopkins. The half mile on Hopkins is hands down the most dangerous, sketchy part of the route. The road is narrow, there is no shoulder, and the cars are going 45-50 mp. Fortunately, it was about a half mile. Old Hopkins turns left into Conifer Drive, and I follow that road for a long time. This road is just as narrow as Hopkins, with even less room to work, but I saw 4 cars the whole route there. It was a very alert part of the run, but pretty and quiet. My timing was lucky and the train passed by 5 minutes before I was running right next to the train track along Bluffside Drive. I followed Bluffside until it turned left and into Dalebrook. Just before I got to the intersection of Dalebrook and Beulah, 3.25 miles into the run, I sucked down a GU (Vanilla Bean w/ caffeine). And I needed it too. Within 8 minutes, my legs stopped burning and the pain under my lower right ribs let up. Dalebrook was a bit exciting, mostly because I had 3 kids riding their bikes in the middle of the road just ahead of me, making even more pedestrians for the cars around us to navigate. I turned left at Meadowdale and ran hard up the very steep quarter of a mile to Meadowburm. Meadowburm is the last mile home, and it is the widest road I had to run on except Hopkins. Being 25 mph, fully residential, and very familiar territory, I was finally comfortable enough to put on my headphones and push hard for that last mile home.

I never had a walk break. I did have a 45 second pause at Beulah Road and Dalebrook. Can’t help that that is a high traffic intersection. I designed the route to cross as few major roads as possible, but that one could not be avoided.

The most amazing part? My pace was 10:13 min/mile. When I ran my 4 mile route to Belle Isle today, my pace was 11:07 even without any walk breaks (another first for me), but the route is much more intense and…well, I did just run 5 miles less than 24 hours ago, so can I forgive the 11+ pace.

I feel like I have made a huge leap in my training and ability in the past month. I suspect I will plateau at this level for a little while. This week is week 3 of my Jingle Bell training plan, and it is an intense week. No days off. Today was the “long run” (this was a long run before I discovered I really could run 5 miles). Tomorrow is my Hill Run. Ugh. It doesn’t matter how many times I chant “Hills make me stronger. Hills make me faster,” I still hate running up Church Hill. Though it really isn’t long enough to qualify, Wednesday is a Tempo Run along the floodwall. Thursday is another longish run around Belle Isle (same as today) and Friday is a shorter run around the neighborhood, after I drop Grace off at school (I am off work Friday). Saturday, I get a rest, and the Sunday, I am doing another 5 miles, though I have plotted a new route that has a few more sidewalks, but also involves running along higher traffic roads too.

That is what it takes to get a 20 mile week in. And I need to do a LOT of 20 mile and more weeks between now and March 17.

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