I haven't done a great job in running since the marathon for a few different reasons. I took a week off by design, and work has been super-busy with a lot of late nights and days where a lunchtime run was out of the question.
In the last two weeks, I'd run 4 times in Manchester or York Haven. Each time, the distance was 7 miles and the times relatively consistent (dailymile rounds to the nearest minute):
March 26, 7 miles in Manchester: 1:05 - 9:15/mile pace
March 30, 7 miles in Manchester: 1:05 - 9:19/mile pace
April 2, 7 miles in York Haven: 1:07 -- 9:31/mile pace (York Haven is a bit hillier than Manchester)
April 5, 7 miles in Manchester: 1:07 - 9:30/mile place (This was a night run where I felt like I was going really fast -- but was not.)
And then, yesterday:
April 7, 7 miles in Manchester: 1:01:20 - 8:45/mile pace. That's 4-5 minutes below my usual pace. It's probably the fastest seven miles I've ever run.
I won't lie, I'm thrilled with this. But I really don't know where it came from. Since building distance for the marathon, I really haven't worried about how fast I was going. But I saw I hit the 5K mark at about 26 minutes, which is an ok, acceptable, but not great 5K for me, but really good for the first 3 miles of a longer run. I reached the halfway mark at about 30 minutes, still very good for me.
The second half of this route is mostly uphill. I haven't downloaded spits (I never do), but while I don't think I pulled off the negative split, I ran as fast as I could the whole 3.5 miles back to my car, feeling like I was sprinting for the last mile, and came in at 1:01:20. Usually, I'm feeling pleasantly tired at the end of the run, but not exhausted except during the heat of summer. I worked really hard for those 5 minutes, though. I could hardly breathe when I got back the Neon and chugged a whole Gatorade at Sheetz while waiting for an MTO.
Anyway, the point of the post was not really to brag (ok, it sort of was), but how completely unexpected this was for me. I was going on three hours of sleep and I'd had one of the most stressful work days of my career, which was the culmination of what's been the busiest quarter of work of my seven years at my current company. While I've found that running after a rough day is a good stress reliever, I haven't really found that a frustrating day made me run faster in the evening.
I pushed myself really hard on during the second half of my run because I knew I had the shot at a great time, but I'm not sure where the faster-than-usual front half came from. I had just wrapped up a HUGE three-month project at work 45 minutes earlier, and I told my wife at the time that I actually felt lighter. Maybe I really was.
Tomorrow, I'll probably run the same route. And despite my best intentions, I'll probably be back in the 1:05-1:06 range. After 3.5 years of running, it's still somewhat of a mystery to me. Some days I've got it; some days I don't. But I'm thankful for every opportunity to try.
(Sorry for the even more boring than usual post. This is what happens when I don't know what to write about.)