Conquering Fear

This morning I nailed my second pace run in a row! Now, this may not seem like such a big deal to all you other avid runners.  But, I have a severe aversion to pace runs.  In fact, you say that the word alone outright terrifies me.  I admit it.  I’m weak in the head.

I love to run.  I love just going out and hitting the pavement, running what feels good at the moment, taking in the fresh air, and (when I remember to look around instead of down at the pavement ahead of me) the scenery.  The thought of pushing to a pace that is slightly uncomfortable and HAVING to maintain that pace for a set number of miles, is daunting.  I work myself up in my head so much that the heavy breathing is from anxiety on top of breathing heavy from running fast.

I prayed on my way to Andrea’s house this morning for strength and endurance- like I do every morning before a run.  This morning I doubled back and added courage to that as well.  I know this is in my head and all I need is the courage to push myself and just get there!

I met Andrea and we started out easy, although, it felt like we were going hard at it.  I looked down and we were close to a 9:30 pace… I blame the 30 degree temps this morning for making it feel so much harder.  We hit the 1 mile mark and sped up.  Unfortunately, on our route this morning the 1 mile mark was also the start of a hill.  Nonetheless, we pushed up it and continued pace.  I looked at my watch- we were 20 seconds too fast.  I slowed down and did my best to maintain an 8:20 pace for the next 2 miles.  Unfortunately again, that wasn’t the only hill.  Not that they were big hills, but on a pace run, any hill is a HILL!  We did great maintaining pace and from what I noticed only slowed by 15 seconds on the longest, steepest one.

Mile 4, we picked up the pace to 8:12.  Well, that was the goal.  From what I could see glancing off and on at my Gamin, we were between a 7:50 and 8:00 pace.  Up to this point, the run seemed to be flying by!  And I was feeling good!  So good, in fact, that I was even talking!  I know, again, not a big deal to all you avid runners, but instead of sucking air like usual and freaking myself out, I was holding a conversation and actually telling stories myself instead of just listening!  However, by this point, there was no talking.  Andrea and I were just concentrating on getting to the cool down.  I could hear both of us breathing heavy.  With 1 more mile to go holding our pace, I called out only 8 more minutes!  Trying to be encouraging and hoping it wasn’t annoying.  It was, in fact, helping me to push through.  Instead of looking at 1 more mile, 8 more minutes seemed like a piece of cake- 8 minutes is NOT a long time.  I started the countdown in my head, looking at my Garmin- half mile left meant only 4 more minutes!  Quarter mile left- only 2 more minutes!  I can do that!  Somewhere along there I started burping and the distinct taste of bile was left in my mouth.  I wonder if this is normal or if it’s because I don’t eat before early morning runs (unless, of course, it’s a long run…).

Anyways, by the time my Garmin beeped for our cool down to begin, I was spent.  Legs of jello.  I asked if we could walk for a second.  I caught my breath and we  started jogging again and talking again :).  I felt like my legs were moving through molasses.  We hit a slight hill and my legs wanted to burst.  But, I could see our final destination and did my best to keep pace with Andrea and not slow us down (we had to get to work on time!).

I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised at my “toughness” this morning and last week.  It may not be a big deal- I’m following my training plan after all and have spent months doing speed work, but for me to actually hit pace and maintain it, to actually complete a pace run and feel good?  Well, that’s a breakthrough!

Here’s wishing all of you a breakthrough Friday as well :).  Cheers!

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