This morning, I rolled out of bed at half past five, drove down to Oxnard, and ran thirteen point one miles in one hour, forty-six minutes, thirty-six seconds.
On the one hand, I’m shocked by this. That works out to running a mile in eight minutes and eight seconds, repeated a baker’s dozen times. When I did my first 5K race in years back in May 2010, I would have been overjoyed to run at that pace. (I ran a 9:06 split in that race.) The notion of running a 5K that quicker after having already run ten miles at that pace was out of the question.
On the other hand, I’m not surprised I was able to do it. In October I ran a half-marathon in an hour and fifty minutes, and that was on a much hillier course than this one. I’ve been training since then, and I’ve seen my workout paces speed up. My only goal for this race was to break that time, so I just ran with the hour and fifty minute pacer for the first ten miles. At the ten mile marker, I felt like I could push it a little more, so I ran the remainder on my own and finished a few minutes ahead of him. Doing the math, I realize now that I ran that last 5K at a seven and and a half minute mile pace. That’s faster than I’ve run anything except this year’s Thankgiving 4-miler.
Back when I was doing triathlons — around 2004 — I encountered something on a tri mailing list that’s stuck with me ever since:
People tend to overestimate what they can do in a year, and underestimate what they can do in three.
At lunch after the race, Gwen asked me, “So, what’s next?” (She knows me too well.) I’ve had “run a marathon” on my list of things I want to do for a long time, but I’ve known that’s not something I could do in a year. In 2010, I got back into running. In 2011, I committed to making it a regular and important part of my routine. That makes 2012 year three. Maybe it’s time to finally go after it.
For now, though, it’s time to enjoy my underestimation of myself.