I just had one of those runs that reminds me why I run. It was freaking amazing.
I've been babying the knee since the 10k - I was in a world of pain the day after - but I ran on it a couple of times this week and it's been largely ok. More importantly, it's improved when I'm NOT running, which is the real test - the endorphin release during the run can mask a lot of pain, but I've had injuries where I can barely walk a few hours later. So I decided to do a longer run today, but nothing too crazy. (There was a 10 mile group run this morning and the 7 hills run - which is a crazy 12ish miler on some of the biggest hills in Cincy - tomorrow. Neither seemed like a good idea.)
The plan I came up with: run for an hour, at a comfy pace. I took the pace indicator off my Garmin, so all I could see were distance and time. No worries, no obsessing, be happy with whatever my pace may be. I went to a park with a 2ish mile loop so that if the knee wanted me to stop early, I could at any point without having to trudge too far back to the start.
And what did I do??? I went out and ran the fastest run of my life. No, really. 6.5 miles at a 9:28 pace that felt fun and easy. OK, not like marathon pace easy, but not uncomfortable. I was paying attention to my mile splits and I couldn't believe it when I didn't slow down. I actually got faster. And when I got to the 6 mile mark, I sped up - not all out, but decided to see how much I could squeeze into an hour.
6.5 miles. 1:01:40. Faster than my 10k PR last week. Faster than my 5k PR pace. Loved every minute of that run.
My splits - and mind you, this is without being able to see my pace on the Garmin: 9:40, 9:29, 9:28, 9:35, 9:26, 9:27...and a 9:01 pace for the last .5 miles (and I swear I could've kept it up for another half mile!) Guess what....this means my ability to evenly pace myself is returning!! I've missed it so. It's such a great feeling - when I run like that, I feel like a literal running machine.
I seriously hope my knee doesn't hate me for this tomorrow....but if it doesn't, I'm really really really tempted to sign up for a (smaller and flatter) 10k next weekend so I can get some vindication and a PR that matches my ability. :)