Thanks to a generous school district that gives an entire week off for Thanksgiving, I spent the better part of a week in North Texas. That meant less trails and hills...and more speed!
I tried to keep my training schedule similar to what I normally do, but doing hills on a Tuesday is a bust when you’re running in a town whose name translates to “flat”. Nevertheless, I got the miles in and threw in a few bike rides with my dad for good measure.
My normal runs have their share of hills, which are unavoidable in a town like Wimberley, and I tend to pick routes that seek them out. Combined with running mostly on trails and gravel, your pace is naturally slowed down. But when that’s all you do, you don’t notice that you’re running slower because you have no outside frame of reference.
So when you finally go for a run in flat area, mostly on pavement or well-groomed grass, you go fast! Faster than you knew you could. Despite doing more exercise during the week than normal (due to the extra bike rides with my dad), each run kept getting faster than the one the day before, mostly because I was finally getting the hang of how to run in these speed-oriented conditions.
This culminated in a long run on Saturday, when I set out to run the Library Loop. A few of Plano’s paved bike trails nearly connect to make a 34 km loop that takes you on a good tour of the city, passing three libraries in the process (hence the name). Normally, I use this loop as a bike route. For the first time, I’d do it on foot.
I took a gel with me, and there are plenty of drinking fountains along the bike paths on the way. My dad decided he’d give me a head start and bike the route, then give me some water when he caught up.
In the end, he caught up just as I was walking around the block to cool down after I’d finished. He’d given me a head start of an hour, then realized that was too much after he’d started, so he booked it the whole way, finishing the loop 20 minutes faster than he normally would. Faster than I ever have, I’m pretty sure. For a 68-year-old man, I’m impressed!
Before a race, you usually take at least a day of rest, taper down your distances, and make sure you eat healthy in the upleading week. I did none of these and still ran faster than my goal pace for the Austin Marathon. With three months of training left, I’m still getting better!