Total time: 53 minutes
Total distance: 4.29 miles
Today was one of those runs that kind of re-affirms for me why I'm even doing any of this. It also re-affirms my theory that the first mile sucks and if I can get past the 1.5/2 mile mark, then I'm generally good to go for a while longer.
I used to have an easy time getting started - the first five to ten minutes were the best and easiest, and the eleven to twenty minute set was where I struggled. Somehow, that's shifted. The first two minutes are great (and usually faster than they should be) and then I struggle to find my pace. I don't know if it's because of the weird downhill/uphill soft slope of the first part of my route that it just takes me until I'm on level ground to settle down, or what. But I have found that I've had to mentally push myself through that first mile. (Which is really annoying when I only run about a mile - that means the whole thing sucks!).
Then there's the pivot point where I either (a) stop or (b) decide to go for the 2nd mile. That little stretch there kind of sucks too, but once I'm in the no-man's land of the road that loops around the baseball field at the edge of the park, well - I'm in it to finish it, because there's no good spot to stop and turn back.
I'm not exactly sure where the edge of my two-mile route is, so oftentimes I will run a little extra just to be sure that I've cemented that milestone. And sometimes, during that "little extra" - I decide to keep going. Recently, I've found that Mile 3 is the best mile. I've found my pace, and it's slow, but I keep chugging along and I'm usually feeling pretty good about things at that point. It's magical and I wish I could get to that point every day, but I'm not there yet. (Maybe next year??).
At any rate, once I finished my "5K" route- I decided to keep going. So I circled the baseball field again. I honestly thought about trying for a fifth mile when I was done - it was tempting. But I could feel the fatigue setting in and I opted against it. The fact that I was able to do four miles again, though. That was huge! I felt like I picked up where I had left off at my peak from this summer. (Additionally, if I had known how close I was to my PR (currently standing at 55 minutes), I definitely would have kept going. Unfortunately I didn't have a watch with me so I had no idea how long I'd been going. Bummer.)
There was a combination of things contributing to the success of today's run, I think. A lot of newness. It was one of my first sub-40 degree runs since May (yes, May, with our freak snow and all that) and I got to take some of my new cold-weather gear for a spin. I also had a new pair of headphones. I knew that my clunky over-ear phones weren't going to fly with any winter hats or earbands, so I finally decided to try the Yurbuds that were designed specifically for lady ears. I hate earbuds. They fall out and they're uncomfortable. These were recommended by one of my runner friends and they're designed to be smaller so they don't fall out. I was skeptical but I needed something, so I decided to try them out. Instead of just sticking them in your ear and hoping for the best, you sort of twist them to lock them in place. They stayed put the entire time, though I'm not sure if it's because they were actually locked in place, or if it was because my snug earband was holding them in place. Either way, they stayed put, they had great sound, and they really didn't bother me at all until I was walking home and kind of adjusted one - so, after about an hour, they were sort of starting to hurt my ear a bit, but that's not too shabby. I think I'll keep 'em.
New gear aside, the fact that it was cold actually helped a lot. Because it felt really nice once I had gotten fully warmed up and sweaty. I was really comfortable for my entire run. It wasn't until I stopped and stretched and started home that I realized how cold it "suddenly" was again. This was particularly promising because that means that I can continue to run outside this winter, as long as it's (a) above freezing (gotta draw the line somewhere) and (b) not icy. Ice + running = seems like a bad idea.
But, cheers to a great run, I'm hoping maybe I can squeeze in a couple one-milers this week then another 3 miles on Saturday or Sunday, because I've got a 5K coming up that first week of November and I really really want to finish it strong. It's my first chip-timed race so it feels all sorts of official. :)