So just when I thought my "speed" was gone for good, I went out on Saturday morning for my run and set a new PR on a pretty locally competitive course.
The course is a hilly 1.5-mile trail loop near our house and adjacent to our local high school. It's frequently run on by the high school cross country team (which is a strong program). I've been running this loop for literally close to 9 years and have had a few really strong performances on it. I used to own the CRs on this loop (in both directions) but then a few young hot shots in their teens staked their claim of the #1 and #2 spots for the counter clockwise direction--the fastest time being 8:53 for these hilly 1.5 miles of trail--all above 6,150 feet.
On Saturday, after about 5.5 miles of feeling fresh, I decided to head to this loop and go hard and see what the legs could give me. This was a 10 out of 10 effort for me and I went deep in the pain cave, especially for the last 5 minutes. My legs were burning in agony and I was breathing hard! To say I was going all-out is an understatement. This was the hardest I'd run in months.
And it was getting warm, too. The sun was out in full force the temperature was in the 70s. I had major cotton mouth by the end.
Not until I got home and uploaded my data did I see that I'd run the loop in 9:22--good for third overall on this very competitive loop. I'd improved on my previous PR on this course, set in 2013 when I was but 40 years-old and coming off a pretty strong Leadville 100 performance, by 9 seconds.
To say I was surprised that I'd beaten my 40-year-old self by 9 seconds would be an understatement. In all honesty, it made my day...actually my whole weekend!
Going into Saturday, I'd done two track workouts in two weeks and already I was feeling a performance bump. My approach thus far has been--and will continue to be--to add a 400-meter interval every week as I work to improve my speed. So on week 1, I did four 400s. On week 2, I ran five 400s. This week, I'll run six. Simple, straightforward and hopefully "safe."
As my speed improves and my recovery from the 100-miler back in July continues, I'll start transitioning into other types of intervals, including 800s and the mighty 1600. But, right now, it's all about the 400.
I was thrilled to see such an exciting result on Saturday. I knew when I was done that it was a solid result but never did I think I'd beaten my previous PR by 9 seconds, especially when I recall some previous runs on that loop where I went all-out. It was very encouraging and more proof that I need to run hard a lot more if I want to get better. Less focus on quantity and more focus on quality! And the nice part of more focus on quality is that it'll ultimately make your longer runs more enjoyable.