Friday was my 33rd birthday and I am always up for a good crazy challenge. The standard birthday challenge would have me either running or biking the number of years in my age. Hmmm... I don't want to trash myself with a 33 mile run and biking 33 miles isn't much of a challenge. So I came up with the idea of doing 3 races in 3 days. It turned out to be about 3.5 days, but close enough.
Race #1: Zilker Relays on Friday night Sept 3, 2010 in Austin TX
The event is a 4 person relay to do a total of 10 miles. I got together a group of my co-workers to form a team. We weren't planning to be competitive, just going out there to participate as a team and have fun was the plan. I am always competitive so my own goal for my 2.5 mile segment was to go under 17 minutes. My time: 16:58. Yay! That's a 6:45 pace which is just faster than my 5k pace and I had to push hard to get it. The reward: Taco Deli tacos and a birthday cupcake :)
Race #2: Suzy's 10K Run for Cancer Kids, Sunday Sept 5, Madison WI
I went to Madison for the holiday weekend and this was my second race. 10k is not my favorite distance to race because it just hurts so much to go as hard as you can go and stay focused for that amount of time. It's a brutal version of the 5k but it's an excellent workout and I wanted to get a benchmark for my 10k fitness. The race was for an inspiring cause and featured former Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton. The course was pretty, at least half on wooded paved biking trails. I came in as the third female with a time of 46:10 (7:25 pace). I thought I could go under 45 minutes based on my 5k pace but my high-speed endurance just isn't quite there yet. I was toasted after this and spent the rest of the day lying around and sleeping.
Race #3: Safe Harbor 5K Run for Prevention of Child Domestic Violence, Monday Sept 6, Madison WI
This was another good charity organization to be supporting this weekend. They had a 5K and a 10K but I opted for the shorter distance today. No thanks on running another 10K. My legs were feeling the burn this morning when I woke up and I was having some doubts about how I would do. I walked to the race and had to turn off all negative thinking. I was going to run this thing as hard as I could because I wanted to end my birthday challenge with a bang. Well, I did just that. I ran hard, didn't let up, worked the hills, and came in as the first female finisher. This was my fastest 5K of this year, and a whole minute faster than a month ago. It was a satisfying end to a fun birthday challenge and was a great way to kick off a new year of fitness. I am ready to make this my best year yet.
What did I learn from this?
By packing all this high-speed work into a short amount of time, I broke down some of my fear about running fast. The majority of my running in the last week has been at a 7 minute pace or faster. I couldn't sustain this type of training forever without injury, but I could be incorporating more of this pace into my workouts on a regular basis. Even if I start out a workout thinking I won't be able to perform, that may not be the case at all once I get going. My mind is a powerful thing, so I have to make it work for me not against me.