Lately—over the past three weeks or so—I’ve been having severe pacing problems. This is not to say I’ve felt particularly tired or miserable while running (although running in Pittsburgh really does make me think twice about whether I love the sport or not, because running constant hills requires way too much attention to pain); I’ve simply gotten to the end of my run, looked at my watch, and done a double-take. I was running that slowly?! How could I have possibly run 26.2 miles at a 7:40 pace if I can’t even run 4 miles under 8:15? Truly, I was averaging between 8:00 and 8:30, and as the time crept up, my morale tumbled downward.
The more I tried to rationalize my escalating times, the more frustrated I became. Over break, I was sleeping more than usual, so it couldn’t be from fatigue. Also over break I was eating on a very regular schedule—as opposed to my sometimes abnormal volleyball/swimming/running/shopping/ “NYC life” influenced schedule that can have me eating dinner at 9 or 10 at night—so it couldn’t be my metabolism that was bringing my legs to a screeching halt. I tried stretching before I ran; I tried not stretching before I ran. Nothing seemed to help—I felt exactly the same when I ran, except I was still running 30 seconds slower per mile than I usually would. Apparently my body was just going to run slowly, and that was that.
After holiday break, when I returned to work and started running with my buddies there, things seemed the same. They had all stopped running over break for their various reasons: one had had surgery, another was busy taking care of his newborn. Consequently, they all needed to build back up their pace and distance and gladly matched my new slower pace.
Then, this past Friday , M___, T___, and I ran the Palisade 5 route. By some miracle, we ran under 40 minutes. I, honestly, was shocked. That was the first time in three weeks that I had run any distance in under 8 min/mile. I was dying to know why, but I had no explanation, so I just let it go, hoping that it would somehow carry over and give me at least something under 8:30/mile the next day for my 20 mile run.
Did it ever! I ran 20 miles in—excluding the 5 minute water break I took at the top of Riverside Park—exactly 2:30:25. And because I personally am terrible at math, I will tell you: that come out to a little over 7:30/mile!