This evening marked my first ever participation in a timed running event, a 3.5 mile run on the Embarcadero in the Shitty. The event was put on by JP Morgan Chase as a charity event for somethingorother. The race provided me a convenient training goal to work towards with the Vibram FiveFingers.
In the months and weeks leading up to the race, I had some concerns that I wouldn't be able to complete the event because I was unable to run the full 3.5 miles in training. However, as the race grew nearer, my body started to finally adapt to the shoes and the running, and mileage and pace started to pick up at a fairly rapid clip. I did my first non-treadmill run two weeks before the event on a rubberized track and managed to only complete 3 miles at a pace just under 9 minutes/mile. The soleus in both legs basically cramped up after mile 1 and gave me much concern.
I rested up for the next week, getting in some easy rides and a good massage to flush them out and promote good circulation. I returned to the track a week later and was able to complete 3.25 miles at a pace just under 8 minutes/mile. Even though I was still having problems with my soleus, they didn't act up until mile 2, and the cramping was far less severe than a week before. The distance and pace were also very encouraging.
The week before the event (this week), I got back into more aggressive training on the bike but didn't run, allowing my soleus to heal in both legs. I had high hopes that I'd be able to achieve my goal of 30 minutes for the event. I also acquired a new event objective: better the time of one very competitive and athletic co-worker.
The event has come and gone and I can say I am very pleased with the result. I achieved both goals: to finish faster than my co-worker and to finish within 30 minutes. The co-worker target was achieved within the first mile with him having gone out far too fast and having to back off considerably so as to not completely blow up. I far exceeded my expectation with regard to how long it would take to finish, beating my target time by over 5 minutes. I crossed the finish line in 24 minutes, 12 seconds, giving me an average speed of 6.53 minutes/mile. For me, this is a fantastic result as it again bested my pace by 1 minute over what I ran last week, and 2 minutes faster than two weeks prior.
Just last week I was telling my massage therapist, also a runner, that my long term goal for running is to be able to regularly pace at 6 minutes/mile. To be within sight of this goal after only 5 months of once per week treadmill torture is fantastic.
It should be noted that my pace today was under race conditions and It's pretty unreasonable to expect that I'll be able to regularly put myself through that level of pain and exertion in normal training. For now, I'm content and confident enough to look at my target pace as a completely attainable goal. Only time will tell how long it takes me to get there.