When I started running - I was slow.
I mean really sloooooow.
I am a pretty fast walker so I must have looked ridiculous as I power walked for five minutes and then slowed down to a run for two minutes and then sped up to a walk again. Things went on that way for a while. I added minutes to my runs but I always walked faster than I could run. I tried not to be mortified by that fact but it was pretty embarrassing.
I joined Runners' Edge after a few months of trying to make a go of it on my own and they taught me a few tricks that helped me learn how to run faster than I walked. I sped up a bit but settled pretty quickly into a 7 minute per kilometre pace. Always being the last one to finish a run, I described myself as a slow slow runner.
I was ok with that because a) I was running! and b) the thought of going any faster was enough to make me want to faint so I really didn't think there was any point in fretting about my pace. I was working hard dammit!
Over the next year I trained for a 10k, a half marathon, another 10k and then another half marathon. We did speed work, hill work, long runs and lots of them. But I never got faster - the only thing that happened was that it got a little easier to run my 7 min/k pace.
Both 10k races took 70 minutes and both half marathons were exactly 2 hours and 30 minutes. After that I figured I had found my pace and that I was always going to be a slow slow runner.
In 2011, I started off the year by training for Around the Bay and then leapt right in to marathon training. I started running four days a week instead of three. I did all my speed work and all my hill work and I taught my body how to run for hours and hours. Somewhere along the way, I started speeding up a little bit. I went from 7 min/k to 6:45 to 6:30 and then, on really fast days, I could even handle 6:20 for short periods.
I was no longer right at the back of the pack and I, occasionally, passed someone!
I had become a fast slow runner and it felt good.
Then I got injured.
Twelve weeks off followed by a really slow comeback.
One minute runs. Two minute runs. Three minute runs. I huffed and puffed my way through 60 seconds of running. It felt ridiculously hard and I felt like I had gone back to the days of walking faster than I ran.
But I kept at it and, as I added one minute at a time, my body slowly remembered how to run. But it seemed to forget what pace it used to run because every time I looked down at my Garmin, I would see 6:00 and 5:50 and 5:40min/k. Those paces were the ones I used to struggle to maintain during my speed work - never mind during regular runs.
I kept adding minutes and I kept up the pace. It felt crazy fast and I kept waiting for my body to rebel and slow back down again...but it didn't.
The big test came two weeks ago when I had to run 60 minutes for the first time. My pace hovered around 6:00 the entire time and, as I approached 58 minutes, it dawned on me that I might be able to get 10k done in under an hour. For the first. time. ever.
I pushed a bit and, when my watched beeped, I looked down to see 59:51 on the clock. I did it. I broke 60 minutes for a 10k without even trying to.
I ran 60 minutes two days later and pulled off another 10k in 59:47.
Last night, I headed out for another 60 minute run. I wasn't feeling super energized and had decided not to push it. I trotted along at a comfortable clip, not too fast, not too slow...
...so I thought.
10k in 58:32.
That my friends, is insane.
I think I've graduated again. I am no longer a fast slow runner.
I'm now a slow fast one.
Bring it on!!