Pretty dang happy about the tempo run this morning. 25.25 for the four miles, negative splits of 6.42, 6.18, 6.16, 6.09. Best of all, it was, dare I say, a joyful run. Most positive run I’ve had in a good while. Running is sooooo not about the physical. It’s at least 90% mental, and the other half is physical. Do you want the play-by-play?
As usual, started thinking about the tempo run a day in advance, but this time I was less, uh, freaked out, than normal. I actually didn’t fret too much over it, it just stayed there in the back of my mind, with me silently reminding myself that if I approached it in the right frame of mind, not already defeated by it, the run would go fine. Occassionaly, I would think about who I could pace off of, and several people came to mind, but I often do that and it usually turns out that I end up running by myself. Also yesterday, I ran about 4.75 miles in 36 minutes or so, and it was a bit labored, and my legs were tired. As a frame of reference, my last tempo run was in June at around 26:45.
Fast-forward to today’s run, and I wasn’t expecting to have a good day. I looked around to see who I might run with and no one lept out at me. But right at the beginning I fell in with Mason who had set a perfect pace. From our Fila Relay times I knew he would be an excellent pace-setter for me (not that he was my personal rabbit or anything). I knew he was experienced, fast, and wouldn’t go out too hard. At some point in that first mile I noticed Jeff was running with us too. I always like running with Jeff. The pace was easy and my thoughts were positive. The run felt fun.
The second and third mile clicked off with Jeff leading the pace most of the way. As you can tell from the times, we picked it up a good bit, but I never felt like it was too much. I did get a stitch somewhere in there, but my mind was in a good place and, having ignored it, it went away. However, it was really, really dark on the trail, and some other runners coming towards us with their mining headlamps set to hi-beam ticked us all off and nearly blinded us. All three of us nearly lost it at that dip near the 1.5 mile marker.
Beginning the fourth mile, Jeff made an encouraging little pep talk and turned it up another small notch. Still, I never felt labored or out of control, either physically or mentally. Over the last quarter mile Jeff and I pulled ahead of Mason a little bit, and by the last 100 yards we were sprinting, with Gilbert yelling “high-knee” or some other unreachable wish of his. Jeff ended up finishing about a second before me, and Mason a few seconds back, but the three of us had run nearly the entire four miles stride for stride. It was a great little pod-run, and I’m sure I wouldn’t have fared nearly as well without running with those two guys.
Anyway, that’s all a longwinded way of describing what I felt like was my best run of the year. Maybe I could have gone faster, but I’m learning it’s not about fast, it’s about freedom. Mental freedom. Physical freedom. Derived from control and strength and the thoughts you bring to the endeavor.