Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Red Zone

With my second half marathon under my belt, and no current desire to even think about the next one*, I've set out with a new goal--to finally improve that 5K time.

*There will be a next one, I'm just not ready to commit at this time.

Improving my 5K time was what got me into this whole crazy Urban-Cow-Shamrock'n-green-sparkle-skirt adventure in the first place. See, just over a year ago, my friend Matt and I were talking about my 5K time. I'd just missed a sub-thirty 5K in December, and I was asking his advice in how to get faster. Somehow, we got on the subject of me running a 10K. I said something silly about not being ready for that distance.

This earned me a Look. "You can run a 10K."

"Well, eventually..."

"No, now!"

Okay, okay. I signed up for a 10K, ran it in April, and then two people told me, "You should run a half!"


But...the idea took hold. And the rest is history.

All of this is to show how/why I put my plans for a faster 5K on hold. When training for longer distances, I actually slow my average mile down--it's about endurance. So I haven't exactly been burning up the track lately, and that's okay.

But now, with even the thought of signing up for a half making me want to crawl under a rock, I'm happy to dust off that particular goal. Which is how I ended up, this morning, running one-minute intervals in my "red zone," which is defined as that point where a runner is using a lot of energy, is feeling uncomfortable, and cannot sustain conversation beyond random grunts and the occasional, "come on, you candy-ass," gasped out while hoping no one overhears. Well, at least that's the red zone for me. It also involves some ominous churning in my stomach, so it's a good thing I get one-minute walk intervals between those red zone intervals...because no one in this neighborhood would appreciate me upchucking in their pansies.

And yet, there's something so invigorating about running in the red zone. My body feels stronger, more powerful, when I'm going full-bore. Everything is is working--legs, arms, heart, brain--to maintain speed and power. Yes, it's uncomfortable, but the triumph I feel when I finish that interval and take a quick break to recover is huge--just as big as the triumph of crossing the finish line at a race. It reminds me that every time I lace up my running shoes, I'm doing something to get better at this sport--and how far I've come since that first mile-and-a-half with Gershom in January 2010.

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