This week has been a “recovery” week in my training plan for the Fargo Marathon. I’ve never used such tactics before, but Martin obviously believes in them because he has periodically incorporated recovery weeks into the workout schedules of all of his disciples. I experienced three weeks of progressively more challenging training prior to this recovery week, but I must admit that this week was the one that had me the most worried. You see, Martin likes everyone to test out their level of conditioning at the end of the recovery week, and well, let’s just say I don’t like fitness tests.
My test was to run a 5K (3.1 mile) race as fast as possible with a 1.5 mile warm up jog prior to the race and a 1.5 mile cool down jog when I was done. I’ve been training to run the Fargo Marathon in 3 hours and 40 minutes, which means that I should be able to run the 5K in 23 minutes and 5 seconds, or with an average pace of 7:27 per mile.
I pride myself in being a distance runner, and I hate racing short distances like 3.1 miles, because I don’t feel I’m very good at it! To top that off, I donated blood three weeks ago, and I’ve been feeling the lack of hemoglobin most when I run shorter, faster distances. Yes, I was going to fail this test miserably!
I’ve had a stressful week, and I think I’ve been fighting off a cold. My joints have been achy, and I’ve just not felt very good. I ran three, one mile intervals on Friday night, with a little recovery jog between each mile, and I averaged only 7:28 per mile. I was going to have to do this test even faster, without “resting” between each mile. I was considering just skipping the test and telling Martin I would need to lower my goal for the Fargo Marathon. I was going to fail this test so bad that I may as well not even try!
Most of my running friends did their tests yesterday, Martin included, but very few posted any results on our little network called “Daily Mile.” Martin said he was OK with his test, but my friend Jon, who’s a great runner, posted the headline: “Failed-5K Test!” If Jon couldn’t pass his test, I was in deep trouble. It was snowy and blowing outside: I may as well just stay inside my house and announce to everyone that “The Streak” was officially over after 92 consecutive days. I also thought about just skipping the Fargo Marathon this year because I certainly was going to fail that as well!
I finally told myself that I may as well try the 5K test, and at least see how bad I really was. I got dressed, and headed over to the UND Wellness Center, full of doubts and ready to turn my test into another slow run if anything at all went wrong. I got in my 1.5 mile warm up, which felt pretty good, stopped for a sip of water, and then began the dreaded test!
I knew I would have to run the 25 laps in an average time of 56 seconds each to pass the test, and my first lap was right on pace. I was feeling pretty good, so I picked up my speed just a bit, hoping that at least my first mile would be a good, strong one. I finished it with a time of 7:18, nine seconds faster than needed!
I was still feeling pretty strong, and for the first time, I began to entertain hopes that I would at least be close to my goal time. I had a plan: If my second mile was right on pace at 7:27, I would still have those gained nine seconds for the final mile. I finished the second mile in 7:19: Things were looking up!
I knew I was now in a position that if I became too winded, I could slow up for a lap, and still finish strong, passing the test. I wouldn’t need the recovery lap however, as the adrenaline kicked in and I picked up the pace even more. I always tend to finish short races faster than I start, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I clocked a 7:15 on the third mile, making it my fastest of the day!
With only 1 lap remaining to complete the extra tenth for a full 3.1 miles, I still had enough energy remaining to kick it up one more notch. I made the circle in 51 seconds, making my final lap the fastest one of the day (6:48 pace)! I finished the 5K in 22 minutes and 43 seconds, with an average pace of 7:16!
I slowed into my cool down mode for the remaining 1.5 miles, but I was bursting with excitement! Not only had I passed my test, I had blown it away! I was covered with sweat, but I felt shivers pass through me as I considered that I had just completed something that I honestly believed I was incapable of doing. Next time I hear those nagging doubts in my head I’m going to simply repeat what I did today. I’m going to tell myself: “Just shut up and run!”