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Boy, was that close. There was a moment this weekend when I was worried that I was going to miss out on my April race. That moment came when I was sitting in a car near the starting line of the 2012 Trolley Run, watching the rain pelt the windshield and listening with dismay to the loud rumble of thunder. Rain, I don’t mind so much. The thunder? Oh, heck no! What if they cancel the race? It’s April 29. I won’t get another chance to race in April, and then my glorious “12×12” plan will be at a measly 50% for the 1st quarter. Blech.
Fortunately, that one loud crack of thunder was the only one we heard. The race started right on time — by 7:45, my brother and I were doing that awkward “walk/shuffle/jog” to the starting line that I associate with larger races.
With around 6,000 participants, the Trolley Run certainly counts as a “larger race.” We spent the first mile dodging, weaving, and bumping into other runners. After the Love2Run 4-miler in February, I had decided that my goal would be to better my 29:59 time at the Trolley Run. At the time, I thought this would be a snap. Trolley Run is an easier, mostly downhill course, and I imagined myself to be in simply splendid shape. Then, of course, life happened and I went from running 25 miles a week to more like…2. Yikes! I was in the process of revising this goal when Scott encouraged me to think positively. After all, he said, he had run much faster than anticipated at the 2011 Trolley Run. Go out at 7:45, he recommended, and then try for negative splits.
That was the plan, but when Matt and I went through the first mile of this reportedly fast, flat course at 8:02, I had a moment of panic. “Well, there goes that,” I said to myself. I had planned to run negative splits, but recovering from an 8:02 mile? Is that even possible? I haven’t done speed work in ages, and one thing I noticed in February is that my “discomfort tolerance” is embarrassingly low. A little oxygen debt and a very little lactic acid build-up is all it takes to have me backing off the pace.
“That sucks,” I told Matt as I shared our split time with him. “Don’t worry too much,” he encouraged. “I bet most of that time was in the first couple of minutes [when we were doing the most weaving in and out of the crowd], we’re surely going way faster than that now.” True, true. How did I get so lucky to have such positive people in my life? I told the lil’ brudder that I was going to try to maintain whatever pace we were currently running and see how things were shaping up at the halfway mark.
Onward we went. The two-mile mark and the water station (which we ignored) came up fast. Mile 2 was a 7:30 — a full 30 seconds faster than the first mile, which is good. However, I’ve still got 30 seconds to make up in the last 2 miles if I’m going to break 30:00. Can…she…do it?
This is the point where I lost my running buddy. Lil’ Brudder decided to see how fast he could close the race out, and he zoomed off into the distance. As he left, a girl running near us said, “WHOA!” Whether she was commenting on brother’s sudden burst of speed or the shirt he had fashioned into a hat, I can’t quite say.
Left to my own devices and not feeling completely fatigued, I decided to give sub-30:00 my best shot. As the course sloped gradually downward, I consciously increased my pace. I was pleasantly surprised with the result:
Take that, pesky 30 seconds from Mile 1! “Now, we’re getting somewhere,” I thought to myself. “This can actually happen. Let’s see just how far under 30:00 I can get.
I increased the pace yet again, but a persistent stitch in my side and some flailing in my arms was letting me know that there wasn’t much left in the tank. I knew that the course was going to go by my brother’s house and end on the Plaza, but I wasn’t sure if it was a direct shot, or if we’d have to meander off towards UMKC before heading to the finish line. As we neared the Plaza, I kept counseling myself to expect a turn. “It’s further than you think, hang in there, it’s further than you think, don’t give up…” I spotted my lovely sister-in-law cheering outside her house, and made sure to wave frantically so that she saw me. She did. 🙂
And, then…we were turning. TOWARDS THE FINISH. I looked at the clock, but of course it was reading the overall time (34:something) and was no help to me. I peeked at my watch, a move that would have aggravated Coach in days of old. I caught a glimpse of a 28:xx, and I started to get excited. Who’s going to have the most negative splits EVER? THIS GIRL!
Almost giggling to myself, I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch at 29:18. Final split? 6:43. Wow!
8:02, 7:33, 7:00, 6:43…yup, I’d call that negative splits.
I have a sudden hankering for some track workouts. If I can run 6:43 with little mileage and no speed work, what will I be able to do with just a TAD more dedication and effort?
I hope to find out.