The weather is finally warming up in the Pacific Nortthwest. It was in the mid 50s and overcast today, perfect weather for a run outside. Running outside was never in the plan for today though. I headed over to the gym at lunch for some time on the hamster wheel. Why subject myself to this? Glad you asked. I have my last long run coming up this weekend (24 mi) and I wanted to run something that wasn't too hard and didn't wear my legs out. So instead of running my standard work loop with all of it's climbing and descending, I ran a 10K PR* at the gym. As long as I was running 10K, I figured I'd really put the hammer down and see how fast I could have run the Global Warming, My Ass 6.66mi. virtual race as well. What's another 0.45mi, right?
I hopped on a treadmill and started my warm-up at a moderate pace to get the sinovial fluid moving in my knees. After 5 minutes I turned the treadmill off so that I could reset the numbers. I turned it back on and set the speed to a 6:00/mi pace. It felt fine even after my hard hill repeat workout on Sunday. I guess stretching and the foam roller every night are working. I knew that it wouldn't feel good for too long so I upped the speed while the legs still had some spring. I hit the first mile in 5:58. I held the pace steady and still felt pretty good after cruising through mile 2 in 5:54. I bumped the speed up a tad and tried to keep my mind off the fatigue that was creeping into my quads.
I didn't catch the next few mile splits but I did see my time for 5K: 18:21 which is 15 seconds faster than my 17 year old PR on the roads. Not that it's fair comparing the two however. I cruised through 4 miles feeling okay but really trying to convince myself to keep going. I was breathing harder and just sweating buckets into my towel. By 5 miles my form was coming apart and I had to seriously slow my pace for 30 seconds at 5.5 miles. I couldn't keep the pace up and needed to seriously back off from the 5:50 pace I'd been holding for the last few miles. I recovered a bit and went back to a 6:00/mi pace knowing that I had just over a mile to go. I ran through 10K in 36:20* which is two minutes faster than my previous treadmill PR. (The PR-shattering performance will become clear shortly). I wanted to stop at 6.21 miles but also wanted to see how I'd do for 6.66 miles. I ran it on the roads/trails in 46:15 at work last week but today I hit that mark in 39:20 and immediately dropped to a slow cool-down jog.
* So, what's my secret? Why the asterisks after the times and mention of PR? Well, the treadmills I use at the gym are pretty fancy and not only have an incline function but can also be configured for up to a 3% _decline_ so I ran the whole thing on a smooth downhill road essentially. I can't find anything about what an equivalent effort would be running outdoors but I'd estimate it'd be about a 6:40/mi pace.
So... I cheated. It's good to cheat on rare occasions. I think I'm capable of a sub 38 min 10K with some focus and a flat course. I'll shoot for that later in the year if I can find a flat course anywhere around here. It was good to get an idea of how fast I'd have to keep the legs moving to hold that kind of pace. I think I'll try a downhill 5K at 5:30 pace some time, you know... for fun. :)
Overall (incl warmup/cooldown)
Dist: 7.6 miles
Dopamine production: very high