Met My Time Goal on a Final Practice Run

According to my training plan, this week's runs are supposed to be easy and short, but I wanted to do one last practice run before the Just a Short Run 5K this Saturday. To build my confidence, I really wanted to break 30 minutes.

I went to the river trail, which is flat and doesn't nearly mimic the big hill on the JASR course. My plan was to go out fast to tire myself out then really push it in the second half. I started at an 8:50 pace and then slowed down from there. By 15 minutes I was at about a 9:25 pace and was so winded I could barely breathe. I felt like stopping (not just slowing down or even walking--stopping!) but dug in and stayed there. I thought of Kristy, who manages to speed up in the last mile of her half-marathons. It was super tough but I held on and gave as much as I could. I did it! I finished 3.1 miles in 29:57 (whew! that was close!) for a 9:40 pace. I realize that the hill on the JASR course will slow me down a lot, and it's improbable that I'll break 30 minutes for the race. I'm going to try my best.

Now that I'm at the end of my 5K training plan, I've learned some things.
  1. Coach Jenny's 5K Intermediate Training Plan was not good for me. Because it didn't incorporate race practice runs or any runs that called for a sustained 5K pace, I never practiced holding a hard pace for 3.1 miles until just a few weeks ago. That's likely why I'm struggling to hold a 9:40 pace for 3.1 miles, when last fall I held a 9:30 pace for five miles in my Turkey Trot practice runs. All I did was practice runs for the Turkey Trot, keeping the same pace and building up to the distance. I plan to add practice runs to my next training plan.
  2. Hard-effort runs and hill runs suck, but that's what will make me better. In addition to practice runs at race pace, I plan to include hill work every week. 
  3. I was right about what works best out of all the injury prevention strategies I use: matching my breathing with my footsteps so that I land on a different foot when I exhale. I've been ache- and pain-free since I started using that breathing technique--seriously, completely ache-free. The harder your effort and pace is, the harder it is to do, though, so I didn't even attempt it in tonight's run. And guess what--my left hip has a glimmer of an ache. To stay injury-free, I definitely need to continue this breathing technique. 
My final run (or two) for this week will be easy peasy so that I can give it my all on Saturday.

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