10 kilometers, 6.2 miles, the perfect race distance. It's long enough to make you work. It's short enough that there's no risk of bowel-movement-while-running syndrome. I'm not much of a racer. The last 5 races I have entered, not including Ragnar, have been between 6 and 6.2 miles. I finished near the end of most of them.
Up until last summer, the best time I'd raced at the magic distance was around 55 minutes. Last summer, I raced it in just over 53 minutes. I then lowered it by a minute-plus, 52:19 at the beginning of the year, over five minutes less than the year before.
I have a magic mile pace as well. It's eight minutes/mile. I'd never actually run that pace for more than a 5-k. That did not, however, stop me from calculating all my race/fast run goals for that pace for the last 10 years.
This is what makes the Qualify for Boston Goal so ridiculous. It's four times longer than my favorite distance at 45 seconds/mile faster than my magic-mile pace that I've never achieved...until now.
I headed for the park after work on Friday and rattled off a 48:02 10-k. That's a 7:45/mile pace. I ran on a 1.5-mile track at the Sunset Regional Park in Henderson/Las Vegas. As I finished the first lap, I peaked at my Garmin. It read 11:38. I nearly soiled myself in surprise, which would have negated my previous theory on running 10-ks. I was under 23:00 after the second lap. The first 5-k was run in 23:38, the fastest 5-k I've ever run by nearly a minute.
At this point, I had a pretty good notion it was going to be a good, fast (in relative terms) run. I slowed a little, running the second half in 24:24, the second fastest 5-k I've ever run.
I AM THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE!
So the question is, how can someone take nearly six minutes off a 10-k time in a little over six months?
Here's what I did:
- Improved conditioning. I did this through cross-training. I began with P90X. I then went with Insanity. I ran five times between July and December. The fifth time led to a strained soleus. There was a little Plantar Fasciitis mixed in. I love cortisone. I didn't really start running as a primary exercise until January 2. Happy New Year!
- Lost weight. It helps not lugging around an extra 20 pounds.
- Ran hills. I really have no choice. If I'm going to run near my house or near my work, there will be hills.
- Ran fast. I've only actually done three speed workouts, mostly mile repeats. I hate them.
- Did double workouts. Getting up at 5:00 a.m. kind of sucks. Working out again at 2:30 in the afternoon kind of sucks. Setting a PR doesn't suck.
I enjoyed my accomplishment for a day or two, just like I enjoyed the half-marathon I ran under 1:50 last week, but as I said then, There's work to do. Running a 10-k at 7:45/mile is no where close to running a marathon at a 7:15/mile pace.
- Speed work. This is where the money is. In addition to doing mile repeats, I'm going to add some 800 and 400 intervals. I need to get more serious about these workouts if I'm going to get faster.
- Long runs early. Technically my marathon training doesn't begin until the end of February. I've already run 13.1. I plan on going 16-18 by the end of this month, slow. I want to get the distance up and maintain it, so I can concentrate on speed.
- Double workouts. Running at 5:00 A.M. twice per week followed by Insanity workouts in the afternoon have paid dividends.
- Rest on Sundays. As always, give the Lord His due and He'll give you all the strength you need.
For the first time, I believe I have an unrealistic chance at this (unrealistic is a step up from impossible).