In the land of running, I’m pretty sure I can speak for the majority of us on the fact that, eventually, we all want to get faster. Am I right, or am I right?
*sees hands going up*
That’s what I thought.
In the years I’ve been running, I learned to become complacent with what is considered stereotypical “slower” times. I would average anywhere between 13:00-15:00 mpm, with only recently finding out during 2016 GSC that I could go faster (around 11:30 mpm). Being trapped in the middle of the epic conglomeration of people during runDisney events didn’t exactly help my quest to become faster, nor did receiving unsolicited advice from non-runners (of all people) about what pace I should be running at. (Suggesting that I should be running a sub-10 mpm right off the bat just doesn’t work.)
I decided to begin getting serious about my speed this past Glass Slipper race. I studied my splits from the last few years and crafted my A, B, and C goals based off of them. Nothing too elaborate, and relatively conservative at first glance. The 10K C goal was achieved, and the PHM goal, yeah, not so much. The 11:30 splits I cranked out for the first few miles for both races is a step in the right direction for building my confidence when it comes to speed training for future races.
There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait. Just you wait….
Chris had made a deal with me prior to GSC that if I were to PR both races like I had wanted to, I was going to get a surprise. Well, I am not one to turn down surprises of any kind, so it gave me extra incentive to race well. After not achieving my PHM PR, we had good discussions post-race about it. While he was incredibly proud of me for PRing one of the two races, I had the option of accepting the surprise then, or at a later date.
I opted for the latter. I hadn’t rightfully earned it at that point. And I am a huge fan of, “Always earned, never given.”
The following dialogue ensued:
“I’m going to help you break a ten-minute mile.”
“Uhhh, I’m sorry. What?”
“Yeah! I want to pace you.”
“You’ll get your surprise if you break ten.”
“That’s fair. Let’s do it!”
–pause–or if you’re a Hamilton fan...”REWINDwindwind….REWINDwindwind….”
So you’ve talked about this Chris kid a couple of times. Who is he?!
So glad you asked…
First of all, this is Chris! He’s my Kappa Kappa Psi Big Brother (and Life Member!) from the Eta Sigma chapter at UCF. (He adopted me as his Little after WDW weekend and we’ve been inseperable ever since.) And he often has a camera to his face, as you can see here.
Chris is a phenomenal pianist and musician. He’s also an Eagle Scout, is finishing up his Master’s Degree, and I got him into running; we act as long-distance training partners. Star Wars Dark Side 10K will be his first race! (Seriously, welcome to the Dark Side. We have cookies.)
It was by sheer coincidence that we would be in Washington D.C. during the exact same weekend in March. After some coordinating, we agreed to do our mile run during the time we were down there. So that was set.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious about completing a sub-10:00 mile. I had never gone that fast, and I didn’t know how my body was going to hold up after multiple days of walking and sightseeing in the city. My left knee was giving me some serious issues, and I went to bed every night hoping it would hold up the next day. Additionally, would I even want to go that fast? I was pretty comfortable hanging around the 11:00-12:00 mark.
However, there was a tiny piece of me that was whispering intensely, “What if?”
Tuesday came, and we headed out the door and down to the front of my cousin’s apartment complex. Initially, we were just going to run up and down the sidewalk (which was about .25 total). We got our electronics to start (using two Garmins and Map My Run on his phone), and we started.
The first thought that screamed in my head was, “You are NOT showing weakness in front of your Big Brother. I don’t care how much it hurts. You’re going to finish this, and you’re not walking, either.”
Okay, so a non-stop, sub-10:00 mile. I can do this. I got this.
His Garmin loudly beeped every so often (“Dude, your Garmin is loud!” -me), and I assumed we were still on pace and doing good things. We reached the end of the sidewalk and turned right back around (roughly .15 of a mile).
His Garmin chirped once again.. “High sounds mean good things, and we’re staying on pace!” he called to me as we completed the first quarter-mile. “Low sounds mean bad things and that we’re slowing down!”
Well, that was good to know.
We were about to hit the corner of the street, stop, and turn around again, but I felt the momentum picking up in my legs, and it felt good. I didn’t want to stop, so I pointed to the left (so we could loop around the building) and exclaimed, “This way!” We darted up the sidewalk and I noticed the slightest elevation change. I may have looked like nothing to the untrained eye, but to me, it felt like scaling a mountain.
“How are you doing?”
“*laughs* I hate my life!”
As you can tell, I am not a fan of hills, even the little tiny ones.
I fell into a steady rhythm, remembering to keep the upper body loose yet stoic. (It does no good swinging your arms around and erratically twisting your torso six ways from Sunday. You’ll burn up more energy doing this.) We looped around and headed back up the main sidewalk in front of the complex to complete our first lap. I could feel my knee giving me spits of pain every now and again, so I dropped back about half a second to conserve, but I didn’t stop. In doing so, I was able to note Chris’s form (as he claimed his form was “crap” and mine was “really good”). I took mental notes on his stride and upper body posture as we ran the second lap. The cold air struck my lungs and I felt my nose beginning to run…blaaaaaargh. I kept a steady eye on my Garmin and, after the second lap, noted we had roughly .30 to go.
That was it? It’s almost over? Okay!
Our feet pounded down the straightaway and around the corner for the last time. Chris sped ahead of me just slightly, looked back with a smile and said, “Don’t let me beat you!” I wasn’t about to destroy my knee giving chase for the last tenth of a mile, so I’ll save that for another day. (Trust me, I reeeeeeally wanted to.)
However, with our runner tracking devices giving three different distances and times, I had no idea when that last mile would actually end. I decided to focus solely on my Garmin and go off of its data. Chris’s electronics reached the mile mark about ,03 before mine. He stated, “Hey, you hit your mile! We’re done!” I looked at my Garmin and saw it was at .97 of a mile. “I’m not done yet!” I shot back, and kept the pace up for that last .03, stopping it promptly once it hit 1.00.
I stopped abruptly and caught my breath (which is a HUGE faux pas on my part, since you’re supposed to continue slowly walking after you’re done. Epic brain fart and a half right there). Chris beamed at me and gave me a hug. “Well, you destroyed your 10:00,” he said. “I’ve got 8:55 for us on the Map My Run. Congrats, Little Brother!”
(If you just read that in Thomas Jefferson’s voice a la Hamilton, give yourself a gold star.)
I seriously couldn’t believe it. An 8:55? That just smashed my expectation of barely getting to 10:00. I thought for sure that I was going to be cutting it close, maybe around a 9:50. But hell, I WENT SUB-NINE. (Even as I sit here typing this, I’m still in shock that my little legs went that fast, even with an injured knee.)
I hugged him back ferociously, so grateful to have had the opportunity. Chris had been saying for weeks prior that he was going to get me to go faster than a 10:00 mile, and there we were, accomplishing just that. He was so excited and so determined to help me reach my goal, especially after I failed to PR during PHM. The elated look in his eyes told me everything that words couldn’t describe.
And I returned those subconscious thoughts with my own look of exhiliration and newfound confidence.
“I wasn’t going to let you get near10:00. I set the pace for between 9:30-9:55.”
“…you did what?!”
“Yeah! I wasn’t about to tell you that.”
He secretly set me up to succeed without my knowledge. Welp, I’ll be damned. 🙂
Not only did he set me up for success, and we succeeded, but there was something even more important; an aspect that is at the core of our friendship and Big/Little relationship:
He believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself.