If you had asked me last year, it was the farthest thing possible in my mind in November. Even in July this year in peak form after training for four months I didn’t think I was ready to run the mile at race pace, let alone a 5K.
This Sunday at 8 am I finally cracked the ceiling I had been working to break for the past few months. It took two attempts split across two week ends to finally clock the pace/distance combination I thought I would never see again.
27 years after giving up running first because of work, then because of my knees, then because of damaged tendons,I managed to break 7 minutes again for the mile. Race pace all the way. Still much much slower than the pack of seasoned athletes and my children in the front, but good enough for me. The last time I clocked a faster time was when I was 19 years old.
November has been a great month for personal bests this year.
3:47 for 1K, 27 minutes and change for the 5K and now the 7 minute mile. I think the two big breaks were the change in season and the switch to cross country running. The NCC outer loop runs at just a bit over 800m over dirt, uneven ground, a bit of small incline and a couple of hurdles that make you break and rebuild your pace. Once you get hooked to that path, coming back on the tartan track becomes a chore. Certainly a chore but then you are much faster on the track because all the pace breaking hurdles are no longer there.
Ahmed Wali, Roma and their team of amazing young athletes got me running again. They pushed me to a point where I was confident of giving the cross country run a shot and once I did there was no looking back.
It was not an easy ride. From February to August, all I remember is the pain. September was a little easier and the first month where the shin splints began to disappear. Before the end of September I could either train or work, but I couldn’t do both. November is the first month that balance has slowly begun to return to my life.
But it was October and November this year where it all came together. First the long cross country runs to really open up stride length and then the much shorter 400m time trials. Eight weeks to build up the confidence to attempt the mile.
Looking back at February where I could barely run a 100 meters, it’s been a long, uphill road.
The journey began with four months of barbell based weight training and short sprints in February. Both endurance, fitness and strength were all shot. Less muscles, more knots. We slowly added distance and mileage for endurance two months later. The last three months (Sep-Nov) have been purely endurance on the long end (a slow mile or two for about a month before switching to longer runs) and a mix of 300, 400 and 500m sprints at the short end. Once a week for fillers in the schedule, I opt for a few fast all out 100 meter sprints.
If a 45 year old out of shape has been, a wheel chair alum with torn cartilages and tendons can do it, so can you. There is a door in your mind that you need to open and walk through.
What are you waiting for? Open it. Let’s see what the next big milestone brings.