Yesterday was the best run I've had since I hurt my calf. I have no idea if I was fast, as I haven't replaced my nikeplus foot pod or bought a different gadget yet. But I felt strong, and it felt good to push myself a little past my comfort zone. I had a good, steady run Monday morning. It was my 10k out-back-work route that has some small hills & gets me to the office. It was nothing to write home about, didn't push myself, but nothing felt bad. I debated going out Tuesday (yesterday) at lunch. I don't want to push myself too hard, but I'm behind on my training for the Sumerfast 10k next Saturday. So I decided to go out for a quick 7k. I felt surprisingly good: even breathing, quick foot turnover.
Once I settled into my pace on the seawall, running north towards Coal Harbor, I had a couple of people pass me. Both of these guys looked the part. They were real runners. I picked up the pace. I was still falling behind, but not nearly as fast. It felt good to push just a little. After I hit the gravel path around Lost Lagoon I heard footsteps closing in on me (forgot my iPod). I didn't want to get passed again, so I picked up the pace. I figured I would simply tire out and get passed, but my pace held. The footsteps locked in behind me. They would accelerate when I did, but never pushed around for the pass. I was a bit out of my comfort zone, but I felt great. That tiny bit of competitive spirit really does push me.
Then I had a bit of a vain, demotivating thought: I bet this person is old, fat or wearing jeans. It is a common frustration when I run that as soon as I feel like I'm doing great, someone who looks like they only get off the couch for another soda will pass me. I remember once, not long after I first started running and covering 10k at a time in my training runs, I thought I was invincible. Then, during a run where I thought I was doing fantastic, I heard a conversation approaching from behind. I also heard the random creak of wheels and tires, so I move a bit to the right so the bikes could pass. I was not prepared to be passed by two mothers, running and pushing their babies in jogging strollers, while they held an easy conversation. It was all I could do just to get air into and out of my body, and these two moms were holding a conversation while pushing their babies.
It isn't fair of me to think this way. They are obviously more committed and focused than I am. But it stings when I'm being passed by people who are pushing 60, or who have a pear shaped body or are pushing another small human in addition to themselves. So the thought lingered. The sound of feet crunching in the gravel behind me pushed me forward, worried about who was about to pass. Finally, as I crossed a little foot bridge and made a sharp right, I got a quick glance behind me. It was a runner! Lean, fit, tan and wearing real running clothes, the lady behind me looked like she was serious. With the boost to my confidence I was able to hold the pace and keep her behind me for much of the rest of my run, until I cut back to surface streets to head back to the office. It was the perfect pace to keep me just above my comfort zone, and made me miss running with a track club or a running partner.
So, there is the possibility of me getting a decent time at the Sumerfast 10k. I hate to speculate when I've had a dip in my fitness and lost my ability to see pace data, but I think it is possible for me to come in under 50 minutes. It would be the first time in years.
I'll know before 9:00am this Saturday.