Ever since my marathons were completed earlier this year, my focus has been on speed. I want a sub-4 hour marathon badly, and I feel like the time is right to finally make that a reality. I had two good marathons, feel comfortable with the distance, and have gotten much more mentally strong. Now...4 months after the Houston Marathon, 3 months after Austin, I'm 8 pounds lighter, feeling great, and getting faster. I've spent a lot of time running with other people and it's making a difference. Hills, tempos, speed work...it's all coming together for me.
Georgetown is a little town just north of Round Rock and there are so many small fun races held there. I decided to take advantage of some of those. The Georgetown Running Club knows what they're doing when it comes to putting on races. I love the small ones especially. One of the ones I've thought about doing over the last couple years but never did is the Dam Mile...a 1 mile race across the Georgetown Dam. I haven't timed myself running just one mile since high school and it was time to see if all my hard work has been paying off. I got a good confidence boost just two nights earlier doing kilometer hill repeats....about half a kilometer is uphill, with the rest flat or downhill, repeated several times. My average pace over the course of the workout was 8 minutes even, about 7:40 if you look at the hill repeats only. I knew that if I could keep running that kind of pace uphill I could certainly break 7 minutes in a mile. I asked a few friends what they thought I was capable of....6:50 for sure, 6:40 stretch goal. I could certainly try it!
Race morning was just perfect. Great temps, good light tailwind, great scenery, good friends. Greg was also going to run it, and the kids came with us, ready to hang out while we did our thing. I opted for the 6-8 minute heat, while Greg planned to be one of 7 runners doing the sub-6 minute final heat.
My heat started out pretty fast, and as I glanced at my watch and saw a 5:50 pace I knew I needed to hold back or I would burn out by the half mile mark. So I slowed just slightly, hitting the quarter mile mark at 1:36. A little fast, but I felt very comfortable. I hit the halfway mark at 3:16....on target for a mile time in the 6:30s. Could I do it? The next quarter mile I was definitely feeling the speed zapping me, but I tried to hold on, knowing it was only a couple more minutes of pain and then I'd be done. I could do anything for 2 or 3 minutes, right? The last bit of the race is on a slight downhill but by that point I had nothing left in me and only managed to speed up to 6:01 pace at the very end. I was running at full capacity. As I crossed the finish I was honestly shocked to see 6:38 as my time. Not only had I beat my first two goals (sub-7 and 6:50) but I had even beat my stretch goal. One of my buddies told me later he thought I could even do a 6:35 but didn't want to totally freak me out.
Out of 70 runners, I was 19th overall and 3rd female overall. I won the medal for 1st in my age group (30-39). Greg exceeded his goal of sub-6 and got 1st in his age group (7th overall) with a 5:51. It was a great day for the Hahns, that's for sure!
Even though I definitely exceeded my expectations, I know I can do even better. The female winner ran a 6:13...I want to do that next year - win the whole thing! I mistakenly told my 13 year old neighbor this...the same girl who can break 6 minutes in a mile. Big mistake - she says she's going to beat me next year.
On May 5, a week before the Dam Mile, I ran a 5K and was on pace to break 24 minutes in the race when it was discovered many of us had made a wrong turn and gotten off course. Unfortunately it was enough to throw me off pace, piss me off, and pretty much wreck the PR. I stopped my watch at 3.1 miles (24:56) and kept walking and running to the finish line, estimating that I really ran about 3.6 miles (in 29 minutes). I was upset, but these things happen, and knowing that I was on pace not only for a PR (which used to be 24:40), but I could have also broken 24 minutes, was enough for me to decide to do Vern's No Frills 5k on May 19, just two weeks later. Redemption race.
My running buddy Karen decided to run the race with me so the two of us headed up to Georgetown that morning, excited to spend some time together and hopefully both get a PR. Karen's PR was 24:05, so she and I had similar goals. She wasn't nearly as crazy as I was about breaking 24 and would have been happy with anything under 25, but she planned to stick with me as long as she could during the race.
It was a warmer morning, mid-70s, with a pretty heavy humid feeling in the air, but for only 3.1 miles it was going to be okay. We started off the race right on pace, getting through the first mile at 7:46. Karen was right ahead of me for most of this mile, but I caught up and we kept pace off each other for quite awhile after that. We were both feeling really great and that we could maintain that pace with little trouble. We hit mile 2 at 7:41, so still right on pace, although I was kind of hoping for something in the 7:30's. I could feel Karen right at my hip during this second and third mile and knew she was doing just fine. At about the 2.5 mile mark I definitely hit some fatigue. I just couldn't speed up at all and was struggling just to maintain my pace at 7:40. I didn't have any fear that I wouldn't make my PR but I really hoped to break that 24 minute mark. I definitely thought that Karen was going to blow by me at the end. Mile 3 came in at 7:42 and I tried my best to push the pace for the last tenth of a mile, but only managed 7:22 for that stretch to finish right at 24 minutes even.
So very close to breaking 24 minutes. But 40 seconds off my previous PR (which I've been trying to beat since Thanksgiving 2008) so I was THRILLED! Karen stuck with me the whole race and finished right behind me. We were the 4th and 5th overall females in the race out of 70 women. I beat 55 out of the 80 men who ran. To say I was happy is an understatement! And for Karen to stick with it the entire race when she thought she'd be a full minute slower was icing on the cake.
So in the last year I've gotten PR's in every big race distance except one, the half marathon, where I was 55 seconds off in March. My next half marathon is in July and I'm really REALLY hoping for 1:55. I'm on pace to hit that, I just have to keep believing I can do it and I have to keep working hard.
I've been told to only run 3 times per week and to keep every run a quality workout - speed, hills, or long distance. So far so good.
Getting faster with age....I'm liking this!!