I am a creature of habit. I have oatmeal for breakfast almost every single morning, I never leave anywhere without my iPod, and I always put my right shoe on before my left. So sometimes, I have to remind myself to try new things and shake it up a bit.
This week, I am determined to travel into unfamiliar territory. For the first time ever Monday night, I took a spin class. It might not seem like a big deal, but I assure you it was for me. It’s almost impossible to walk around the city without bumping into people who are talking about spinning (“That instructor always has the worst mixes” or “SoulCycle is so expensive but I freakin’ love it”).
I’ll admit, I was a bit hesitant at first – I had a mental image of some crazy-ripped woman screaming at me to pedal faster. But I showed up, and it ended up being awesome.
I called ahead to New York Sports Club and found out I was #2 on the wait list. Friends had told me that no one ever checks the names on the list, so I made sure to get there a few minutes early to reserve a bike.
A kind-looking instructor (not the Jillian Michaels-lookalike I envisioned) came in five minutes before the start, somewhat amazed that the class was so full. I saw he had the list of attendees in hand, and I started to sweat before I even began pedaling. He addressed the class to see if everyone was definitely on the list, because there were a few people waiting outside hoping to get in. I get really nervous if I think I’m about to get in trouble for something, but I tried to play it cool as I watched the seconds tick by until the clock struck 6 o’clock. It felt like the first day of school.
He ended up not reading off our names at all, and just took us at our word that we were on the super-official sign-up list. We started with a quick warm-up, biked up some imaginary hills, and did some sprints towards the end. I smiled all the way through the sweaty class, welcoming another positive, new experience into my life. I will most definitely be back.
I also experienced something last night that has been most unfamiliar to me in recent months – a bad run. Throughout marathon training last year, I definitely had my fair share of bad runs. They can come predictably if you’re dehydrated or sore, but more often than not, they come very unexpectedly, even when you feel prepared for the road ahead.
So far throughout nine weeks of half-marathon training, I can’t really pinpoint a bad run I had. Some of them were definitely tiring, but that was mostly self-induced. I have been blessed with a training season that has been full of runs that only make me smile.
Last night, after a long day at work, I was simply dreading my run. I had planned to do about six miles, and was hoping to do them somewhat close to half-marathon goal pace. My legs felt like lead, and I found it really hard to pick up the pace. I finally did go faster around miles five and six, which I suppose is a good thing, but it began to make me think about my upcoming race goals.
This weekend, I have the Broad Street 10 Mile Run. I’m using it as a test drive for the Brooklyn Half-Marathon. I have a safe goal, of maintaining an 8:45 pace, and I have a stretch goal, of maintaining an 8:30 pace. How did I come to these guestimates? I have no idea. Last year for the Brooklyn Half, I ran at about a 9:02 pace. This was with very little training (both mental and physical), no iPod, and poor nutrition. I figure that if I can maintain that kind of pace under bad circumstances, I should be able to do marginally better with the proper preparation. Right? Right?
My general race plan for Broad Street is to run the first half at around an 8:40/8:45 pace and see how I feel. I’ll step on the gas around mile 5 if I’m feeling good, which isn't that scary to me considering I’ve followed essentially the same plan on my long runs over the past two weekends.
Secretly, I’ve been hoping to maintain closer to an 8:30 pace, as I have been training really hard and almost all of my runs have been under a 9:00 pace. But during last night’s run, I wasn’t hitting anything below a 9:00 pace for the first few miles and didn’t feel like I could move my legs any faster. I wondered: what if the same thing happened to me during Broad Street?
It was a sobering run that reminded me that no matter what my pace is – I know I’ve been training hard, and I will give it my all. Whatever the outcome is, I will be happy with it. It’s a good reminder that I run to de-stress and have fun (CORNY I KNOW) – not to beat myself up over 10 second time differences.
Tune in next time for the Broad Street Run Recap.