After my accidental start on week 8 last Friday, I went into this week feeling pretty confident.  I figured I could improve on that nine-minute mile, extending my total distance so a 5K looks like a mere prelude.

The program sends a new message: don’t get ahead of yourself.

Monday: Where did the time go?

I took  a couple circuits around the park, feeling great, even thinking I was pushing my pace a little bit.  Yet when I got back home, the iThing pronounced: 9:32 per mile, 2.93 miles.

How did that happen? Where did my sweet little 5K go? Honestly, I’m still not sure.  It’s not like it’s a bad pace by my standards, so I wasn’t upset, but it was still not where I had hoped to be.  Better luck on Wednesday.

Wednesday: A new route

Previously, I had chosen between two tracks: turning left to go around the park, or right to go there-and-back on a straight course. But now that the run time is longer than it was a couple weeks ago, I realized I could try to fit in both.  So I went round the park, then continued on to the straightway until I hit a point where I could turn around and finish where I started.  It turned out to be a good choice, and I even timed my turnaround so that I crested Hundred Yard Hill right as Constance told me to cool down. I pumped my fist, walked home, and looked at my time.

3.04 miles, 9:12 per mile.  Okay, better than Monday, but still not quite where I thought I would be.  At this point, I’m thinking, be happy with the nine-minute mile. It’s your comfort zone.

Friday: Push it!

Resolution: run the same route as Wednesday, but improve on the time.  So I dug a little deeper, pushed a little harder, and even got a little further.  Yes, I improved my time, and finally got back below that cursed 9 minute mark (barely: 3.13 miles, 8:56 per mile). But the effort was tougher than any before.  I’m not convinced the gain was worth what I spent on it.

I’ve seen running advice here and there saying “To improve speed, increase distance.” For now, I think that sounds pretty good — next week, the final week of the program, will be three thirty minute runs, so I’ll plan to concentrate on sustaining a pace rather than trying to put the pedal to the metal.