It does not matter how little you have recently run, or what kind of speed work you have done, there is always that little barrier that says “You must pass me or you will not be satisfied”. You can push and put in a great effort, but 2 or 3 seconds slow and you feel awful. Why is that, I wonder?

When doing the 880s over the last few weeks in the woods, my quicker ones have generally been in the low 2:30s (one under at 2:29). It’s only been a week or two since I have started running more than twice a week, and I am getting into the speed work slowly but surely rather than quickly and injury-prone. Today, we did a mile time trial, the first 880 of which was exactly the same as the route we have been taking, and the second half of which is just continuing up the hill, turning at the top, and going back down to ascend maybe 40 yards back up the hill. Not inspiring, but so it goes. I went out in 2:30 at the 880, which was exactly where I wanted to be. I figured, I will run a 2:29 second half, and come in under 5 minutes. But no, I ran a 2:35 second half. It does not help that I was by myself (the next person was around 5:21 or 5:31 I think) and had nobody to chase, but I was sure that I could go under 5 minutes. I noticed myself leaning back whilst descending the hill on the back side, but by the time I had corrected it it was going to be too difficult to regain lost time.

There will be another time trial on the same course in two weeks, and hopefully our local high school hot shot that is a great sprinter will be there for me to chase. I should be able to under 5 then. And either way, the Sunday before that is a 1 mile race here in town that is straight down, so I will definately be under 5 minutes for that. With a 70 foot drop I should not have much trouble at all going under that.

It seems silly that such an arbitrary number at a race distance that is less than 1/26th of my preferred race should mean so much to me (and in workouts, no less). When I was a senior in high school, I barely managed to break 5 minutes. As a freshman in college, I was running under 5 minutes for my last mile repeat at the end of cross country season. My sophomore year, I might have had one repeat in a 6 by 1 mile workout that was as slow as 5 minutes. Why does it matter now?