I felt good. Breathing easily, I cruised into my driveway at 5 this morning and hit my stopwatch. Walking into my house, I checked my time.
9:23 for the mile.
I had run the mile strictly by feel, resisting the urge to check my watch along the way. Loping along in the dark, I had felt on track to nail a nine-minute mile, but it turned out to be way too slow.
I have a new challenge. I am three weeks into being a coach (actually a site director) for my club's Ten-Miler Training Program. This year we are the exclusive training partner for the Army Ten-Miler, the second largest ten-mile road race in North America. The race sold out its 30,000 slots in less than a week. We have 170 trainees whom we have to prepare to run the race less than ten weeks from now. We ran five miles for our long run over the weekend.
In addition to coaching, I'm going to be the nine-minutes-per-mile pacer in the race. You know, one of those runners who holds up a sign that says "9:00" for the entire race and chatters away happily to whoever is around (will he ever shut up!?). I've got to nail a 1:30:00 for the ten miles, give or take 30 seconds. But it'd better be 1:29:45 instead of 1:30:15.
In January I ran a ten mile race in 1:24:00 (8:24). In April at Boston, before I crashed and burned in the twelfth mile due to my utter lack of training, I ran every single one of the first ten miles in under nine minutes, including one in sub-eight. So I should easily be able to be a nine-minute pacer.
But I have to practice because my natural pace seems to be around eight minutes per mile. Sunday in the daylight, checking my watch frequently, I practiced a nine-minute mile for the first time by running my meandering neighborhood mile, which has no markers nor marked halfway point. 8:04. Hmmm. Way too fast.
Now way too slow.
I might have to move my efforts to the W&OD Trail behind my house, which has markers every half-mile. Although I'm bracketing a 9:00 mile with my 8:04 and 9:23, my "running by feel" definitely needs to get more on target before I can fire for effect all ten miles.
I might even have to buy a Garmin (and learn how to use it) for this one. But I'm loving this upcoming challenge.