Today's post in summary: I ran 8 minutes without stopping–twice and it was awesome.
Now the full version...
I've been intimidated by Week 5 since starting the Couch to 5K program. Before I began this program, anything past week 1 seemed like it would be tough, but Week 5 seemed crazy. How could you go from 5 minutes per interval to 8 minutes and then all the way to 20 in one week? Shouldn't the program be longer? It seems like three weeks of work in one.
My fears were reinforced on Week 5, Day 1. It was one minute less running than Week 4, but there were no three minute running intervals to warm up or recover. It was all 5 minute runs. Of course, I tried it on trails–and all uphill–and had one of the most difficult workouts in the whole program. Not only was W5D1 tough, I also averaged a lousy pace.
Regardless, after a recovery day on Sunday I got the itch. The itch is new to me, and it's something I've never had in my life. The itch is the desire, no, the longing to run. I body craves the activity. My mind aches for the escape from my daily pressures and stresses. I've got an out of town meeting tomorrow, and plenty of deadlines and I was afraid if I didn't run today I'd miss it.
So, after a lovely Valentine's Day dinner with Jenny and the girls I got dressed, stretched and headed out the door. This time, I stuck to my familiar sidewalk route. As usual, my warm-up walk ended at the base of a hill. My first 3 minutes of the 8 minute interval was uphill. Those 3 minutes are always challenging. I knew from experience that it would come easier after that 3 minute mark. True to form, I felt myself hit the groove right as my announcer said "5 minutes left." I felt so good, I picked up the pace and maintained it for the entire 8 minute interval. Next was 5 minutes of walking, with me turning around after 2:30.
Of course, most of this was downhill. When I was told to turn around, I faced an uphill climb that would last quite some time. I walked as fast as I could, hoping to get as much of the climb as I could behind me before it was time to run again.
Ding! Run! And it was time to run again, just about 20 yards before the steepest part of the hill. So I ran at a conservative pace. Once I hit the hill, I felt like the more conservative I ran, the longer I had to stay on this hill so I upped my pace considerably. Before I knew it the hill was behind me–right as the announcer told me I had 5 minutes left. Concerned I may hit a wall if I kept pushing I backed down to an easier–but not slow–pace.
I felt like I was gliding. I felt like I could have run for an hour. Once the announcer said I had two minutes left I had a little stitch in my side, but it went away before I really thought about it. Then it was one minute left and I decided to sprint the rest of the way.
It was easy. When it came time to cool down, I walked as fast as I could to keep the burn going. This got me to my house a full minute early, so I had to walk past my house and down the street to complete the cool down.
My legs don't feel tired. I'm not weak.
I think I may actually be ready for the 20 minute run on Week 5, Day 3. You'll be the first to know.