I will never forget the first time I ran a 9-minute mile. Not like it was that long ago – I’ve only been running since earlier in the year – but I think no matter how many years go by I will always remember the way that felt. Seeing that single digit was magical. It had seemed so impossible, like not even on my radar of things that I would ever do in my life. I was so proud of myself and I wondered if I would ever be able to do it again. I doubted it.
But I did. Then I ran an 8-minute mile and had the same feelings of elation, surprise, and then doubt. When I got to the 7’s, I was just in shock. 7-minute miles were what the super fast, athletic girls in high school were running while I was out there unable to breathe and lucky to drag myself through a mile in 15 minutes. My current happy pace is the 7-8 minute range. I can run lower 7’s when I push myself and when I go out slow to warm up for a long run, I shoot for high 8’s. I’m comfortable here and if I never got any faster than this it would be okay because I have already accomplished so much more than I ever dreamed I would.
I had been joking with friends about breaking into the 6’s. They seemed to think I could do it and I mostly just couldn’t imagine going that fast. When I crank up the treadmill during my speed intervals into the 6’s I feel like I’m going to fly off at hit the wall like one of those unfortunate people on America’s Funniest Home Videos. If it was going to happen at all, it wouldn’t be for awhile. It definitely wasn’t going to be yesterday when I went out for my usual Monday 10K, fully intending to relax and take it easy because I had already been running all weekend.
I ran my first mile slow. Or at least it felt like I was running it slow. When I looked down at my watch I was surprised to see that only 7:45 had passed. I was feeling surprisingly good and strong and knew I had a bit of a downhill to work with in the later part of mile 2. I decided to see what I could do. My previous fastest mile was 7:09. Maybe I could get close to that or with a little extra effort I might even beat it.
Let me tell you, I ran like I had just stolen something. I flew by a woman who was sitting in her car and I could just make out the bemused look on her face. I’m sure I looked like a flailing hot mess. I hit the little downhill and for a split second thought that I might go off balance and flip forward, but I kept going. I run this route regularly and know where the mile ends, so I glanced down at my watch just as the screen flashed with my split time. A triumphant yell escaped my lips. Anyone who saw me in that moment would probably think I was completely insane. Maybe they wouldn’t be too far off-base.
I ran a 6-minute mile.
Then I remembered that I had to run 4+ more miles to finish my 10K, but my adrenaline from mile 2 would help me through it. I slowed up considerably and got to work.
Maybe one day I can do it again.
What is your happy pace when you run?