Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Seventeen Saturdays: Episode III

I did 5.5 solo miles on my third training Saturday in 46:40, which comes out somewhere around the eight-and-a-half-minutes-per-mile mark. My pace slows a little when I’m running alone, and this came after three good short weekday runs (3 miles, 4 miles, 3 miles) in which my brother and I managed a sub-eight run, an eight-flat, and an 8:20. The 8-minute mark is what I was aiming for (and just missed) in last year’s Hall of Fame 5-Mile, and it’s been my general benchmark for awhile.

Considering it’s only been two summers since I fought hard to run a two-miler in 15 minutes, I feel good about where I am, particularly when it comes to recovery time.

I really needed this Saturday’s run from a mind-clearing and focusing standpoint, but of course, wanting it makes it that much harder to lose myself. The first mile and a half or so, all I could think about was the running itself, and how I wasn’t finding “the zone,” and how my knees were already sore and I was breathing harder than I wanted to and how in the world was I going to do three-and-a-half more feeling like this?

It’s not the first time I’ve started a run in that state, and afterward, I realized that I think it’s just my way of getting warmed up, mentally and physically, every time I go out.

The second mile had a couple long hills – not steep at all, but grinding in their length.

I got a bit of a second wind in mile three. I’ve heard, of course, about the “runner’s high,” but I’m not sure I’ve ever really felt it – or at least, I don’t know that I’d describe it that way. The best place I reach is when my mind leaves the running track and explores other things for awhile, and then I’ll sort of mentally blink and realize I’ve put another mile behind me.

Mile four of this particular loop always seems to be the toughest, because it’s got a really short and steep climb in the middle preceded by a long straightaway so you can see it waiting up ahead like a wall.

I surprised myself during the final mile by maintaining a decent pace, even managing to keep my knees up and my strides longish up the last big hill of the route.

Something else I noticed over the last week about the hills at either end of the stretch of road that connects to our dead-end street: They’re feeling a little smaller. I’m not blasting up these things by any means, but because they’re close to home, one or the other – often both – land on my routes regularly, and I think the familiarity has really cut down the mental impact they have. I used to force myself to keep my eyes down and stare at the white line at the road’s edge, telling myself I wouldn’t look up until I could feel myself over the crest. Or I’d really cut back my pace in the lead-up, knowing I’d want the extra energy to face the climb.

Recently, though, my brother and I carried on a conversation during one of these climbs: The one that used to mark the beginning of the second half of what we used as our two-mile training route. We weren’t vigorously debating or anything, but I had enough wind to speak without straining, and again, that’s a small victory I’m willing to take.

And I’m finding that my “kick” at the end of each run is becoming less of a huff-and-puff spittle-flying sprint the last couple hundred yards, and more of a slightly faster breathing pace coupled with an effort to make sure I’m taking really long strides and pushing hard with each one. I feel like I’m able to start these finishes a little earlier than I used to, and I don’t feel nearly as wiped out afterward.

So that’s three weeks’ worth of ballpoint Xs on my paper calendar/chart: 12 running days, 46 miles. Tomorrow’s scheduled three-miler would put me at 49 “official” miles for the month, and while that’s easily a personal milestone, I find myself thinking it would be nice to hit that half-century mark. And here’s where all those extra tenths I’ve built into most of my runs make me happy: Adding them up, I find that I’m at 50.25 miles already. And that means with tomorrow’s run pushing me past 53 miles, I will have covered the distance of two marathons in June.

The steps, they add up.

June 29, 2009 - Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , ,


  1. Welcome to the world of cardiovascular improvement! Sounds like things are starting to really kick in!

    Comment by Kink | June 29, 2009 | Reply

  2. When I started running a friend pointed me to Podrunner. It’s a series of podcasts (available in mp3, for the non-apple crowd too) where the entire track is about an hour long at a specifid bpm ranging from 130 to 180. But I also spend my time on a treadmill, so don’t have to navigate things like hills.

    Comment by Panda | June 29, 2009 | Reply

  3. […] I have run in a long time: The big hill that marked the start of mile nine, a hill that had felt as though it had been shrinking lately, reared up with a vengeance and beat the hell out of me. And once I was over it, I was very much in […]

    Pingback by Seventeen Saturdays: Episode IV « Cornfield Meet | July 6, 2009 | Reply

  4. Have you read the Murkami book yet?

    Agh! Just chewed a bay leaf!

    Comment by Ivan | July 6, 2009 | Reply

  5. […] know if it’s because last Saturday’s long run represented a jump of 4 miles over the previous week’s, or if it was because that one allowed me to head into the ten-miler more prepared mentally and […]

    Pingback by Seventeen Saturdays: Episode V « Cornfield Meet | July 12, 2009 | Reply

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