Rewind to the few days before the race. My legs were feeling the 3 weeks of higher mileage, and the fact that I wasn’t letting up for this race. On Saturday I went out for an easy 5 miler. WOW, my legs felt weird. They were tired, and I felt like I was breathing harder than I should have been to maintain an easy pace. Could also be that I am not 100% over a head cold I got about 10 days ago. Darn my terrible immune system. Pace was decent, though, despite feeling sluggish.
On to the race – I felt pretty good from the warm-up! I didn’t feel springy and fast, but I also didn’t have that “legs totally trashed” feeling, and my lungs were working OK. YEAH! Maybe this won’t be the world’s longest 8k after all!
I started the first mile in 6:00. I found that pace pretty easily, and didn’t have to work at it. A teammate came up to me then & encouraged me to chase down another woman up ahead. That was all of the encouragement I needed. I sped up about 10 seconds/mile & got into a GREAT rhythm. The faster pace felt effortless & fun. I passed a lot of people, including about 4-5 women. Miles 2-4 were in 5:50, 5:48, 5:55 (slightly uphill). All the while I kept my eyes ahead. WOW — Ladia Albertson (graduated from the U of MN, multiple time All-American for the Gophers) was up ahead! And Kim, another REALLY fast road racer. Can this be? I’m not in their league, but had been gaining on them through mile 4.
I thought to myself, what a lifetime achievement if I could reach either of them! I gunned it. Except I didn’t seem to be gaining on them like I had before. Had they decided to take off at mile 4 as well? C’mon, Nichole, let’s push a little more… I wasn’t sure if I was going faster or not, as my legs weren’t moving as effortlessly and I had to work to control them a little (why is that? just fatigue? I’ve had that feeling a bit lately). Afterwards, I realized I had run a low 5:30s last mile. Ha, really? 🙂 I don’t think I gained on either Ladia or Kim, but oh well — what a great race, especially considering how I’ve felt the last couple of days!
Since it’s been so long since I’ve posted, I’ll combine two posts in one. After the race, Jerry and I worked to define my next month’s plan. After the race I took a recovery week, which was great. 65 miles with two hard workouts, and the hard workouts felt much easier! I could actually hit my tempo pace without straining, and did a track workout & nailed my times. AHHHH, I love recovery weeks.
But, I won’t see another 65 mile week for a while. This week we’re testing my limits, with 95 miles planned. The intensity is lower, with just one hard workout (I’ll add in some striders 2-3 times this week) & I’m trying to really pay attention to my body. So far, so good! The next few weeks will be higher as well – it was a little intimidating to see it all mapped out, day by day, but also really exciting. I can do this! How amazing is it that my body now considers 65/week to be a lower week? I just have to take the workouts day by day — I know it’ll be difficult & I’ll be tired often, but I know in the end this’ll make me both physically and mentally TOUGH. Bring it on! 🙂