Laura at Mommy Run Fast is hosting a virtual 5- or 10-mile Labor Day Race this weekend. I signed up early for the five, knowing I'd be assigned at least that distance for the weekend's long run.
Turns out Darren gave me 70 minutes with 20 tempo-paced minutes in the middle, more than enough time for the virtual race and a "warm-up" and "cool-down" mile on either side of it. I wasn't able to truly race the full five, as Darren wanted me to keep my heart rate slow and easy for the first 30 minutes and the last 20....but I was able to speed up and have fun with that middle 20 minutes!
My body clock has really gotten used to getting up early. Even without setting an alarm, I was ready to go at 6:15 a.m. yesterday. The weather was beautiful, cool and slightly cloudy, but not so cloudy that I couldn't see the blue moon setting over the mountains to the west. I had decided to test my body out on a full concrete course for this one. After all, my two scheduled races in Detroit and Sacramento will be all asphalt/concrete affairs and I need to start getting used to that, as well as to having some hills to contend with.
Keeping my heart rate below 150 for the first 30 minutes proved easy enough. I concentrated on slowing on the uphills and speeding up on the downhills. It did touch 150 at the top of a long but gradual hill, but then quickly fell back to 126 as I went down the other side. All of this, and I was able to gradually increase the pace while still staying "easy." Score!
Mile One: 10:24 (the warm-up mile for the virtual race)
Mile Two: 10:08 (mile one of the virtual race)
Mile Three: 9:37 (mile two of the virtual race)
At 30 minutes on the dot, I picked up the pace to begin my 20 tempo minutes. For this part of the run, Darren had instructed me to keep my heart rate between 155 and 166. Since I was on a downhill at this point, I had trouble getting it above 155, so I took a detour that I knew would lead me up again. After that hill, I had no problem staying in the tempo heart-rate range. The last several minutes of it saw rates in the 160s but I never got above 166.
Mile Four: 8:28 (mile three of the virtual race)
Mile Five: 7:56 (mile four of the virtual race)
Then came the hard part: the cool-down. During this phase, I was once again supposed to keep my heart rate below 150. I had to slow my pace notably to achieve this, and even so it took me a good minute and a quarter to be able to stay down there. Mile Seven felt SO slow.
After a while, though, my pulse steadied, and I could run without checking in so much.
Mile Six: 9:38 (mile five of the virtual race, run partly during the tempo section, partly during the cool-down; slowing down this much is NOT how I would finish if I were allowed to race for real!)
Mile Seven: 11:08 (cool-down mile)
Last Quarter-Mile: back to a 10:25 pace, heat rate safely below 150
My total time for the five-mile virtual race: 47:48
My total distance for the 70 minutes: 7.25 miles
That's more than five minutes slower than my Snowman Stampede five-mile time, set during the last race I ran before taking my injury break. But I'm happy with it because only during less than half the duration was I really trying to run fast, and one of the miles during that time was significantly faster than any of the miles I ran during the February race. Perhaps more importantly, I was able to execute my heart-rate instructions for the day to the letter.
Big thanks to Laura for hosting a fun event (and a fun way to add variety to a Saturday morning long run). Fingers crossed that I win one of her great prizes!