9:08, 8:15, 8:02, 8:31, and 8:29 were the overall mile paces in my first 5 running events to start the 2010 event season.
The 9:08 pace for the Shamrock Shuffle (8k) on March 21 was a decent kickoff for the year and faster than my last 2009 event (a charity 5k) during the former “Fat Brian” era.
After the Shamrock, I dug in, kept carving off more weight (2010′s weight loss reached 35 pounds at that stage), and got up at 3am to execute speed work and run intervals to prepare for the BAA 5k tied to the Boston Marathon.
I knew I would be stronger and more confident in Boston on April 18 and had the staunch backing of my online friends on Dailymile, Twitter, and Facebook leading to the event.
Race day on Sunday was cold, partly cloudy, and misty, but I was determined to have my best 5k race performance and brought it home with 25:39 overall timing, besting my 2007 Personal Record (PR) for the distance by 42 seconds.
Returning home, post-Boston, I was hungry and determined to go to the next level and break 8-minute overall mile pace timing for an event.
The Ravenswood Run (5k), a popular event on Chicago’s North Side was my first legitimate shot to achieve my sub-8 dream.
Held a week after the BAA 5k (April 25), Ravenswood’s course was flat compared to the hilly time-zapping section that killed me in Boston and the weather was a runner’s dream with muted sunshine, cool temperatures, and a low dew point.
Things went according to plan for the first 2 miles, straddling sub-8 timing, but I struggled to keep pace in mile-3 and had to sprint to the finish line to have a chance at 7:59.
Unfortunately, there were 2 runners who decided to pose like plaster statues for the race photographers at the finish line and cost me valuable seconds having to skirt around them (see the above photo for the event’s finish line shot).
I was not a happy man when Ravenswood race officials released the results showing that I ran 25:00 overall; achieving an 8:02 mile pace for the event.
If someone had told me on January 1, 2010 that I’d run any event that year with an 8:02 overall pace, my jaw would have dropped to the floor in shock and glee.
However, on April 25, 2010 that wasn’t good enough anymore; I knew I could do better.
A 39-second PR in one week and I couldn’t sleep or live with it. Yes, the “Fat Brian” era was indeed over.
In coming weeks, I executed 8:31 pacing at a 4-mile race (May 2), 8:29 at a 10k (May 16), and 8:57 at my first half marathon on June 13.
Things were looking up for me as a runner and athlete as Spring, 2010 drew to a close, but I wanted to break sub-8 timing in an event or I was going to die trying.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long for that to happen.
Brian Adkins is a Chicago-based runner, marathoner, endurance athlete, writer, editor, essayist, and independent scholar. You can contact Brian at: firstname.lastname@example.org