Boy, did I surprise myself!
I never thought I still had a 30-minute 6k in my legs and lungs. Well, it was really 40.41 seconds more, but after months of hovering around the 32-minute zone in my almost daily 6k run, I was never near thinking that I can do a sub 31. Running 31:30 for what has become for me a staple distance was a more likely thought
Like I normally do, I walked the 300-meter stretch of dirt road from the house to the paved highway where I do my runs. That and a few more minutes of walking before I start off on a slow run served as my warm up.
My first kilometer is usually run around 5 minutes. This one was no different. The next two kilometers of the run go downhill most of the way, so faster times are usual. I usually do each kilometer at 4:45, 4:50. But I felt more aggressive, bolder, and held a pace that was faster than my usual. My watch would later show lap times of slightly above 4:33 for this segment of the run.
Then came the turnaround and the inevitable climb back to where I started. This was the difficult part.
I normally run the first kilometer stretch of the return route in 6 minutes, which is what I did, At the kilometer marker, I picked up the pace, holding it over the 500 meters or so gradual upward slope which eventually gives way to a 200-meter downhill stretch before breaking into a steeper uphill of about 300 meters.
I was slightly in oxygen debt by the time I approached the post marking the start of the last kilometer of my run. I slowed down a bit, tried to breath more normally, and gauge how I felt.
I started to pick up the pace again after 100 meters and held it at what I estimated was a bit faster than my usual at this point of the run.
The road goes down slightly for 500 meters to the finish. At the start of that slight descent, I increased my tempo, held it for 400 meters, before breaking off into what for me was already a sprint to the finish.
I was gasping for breath when I raced past the kilometer post, fumbling for the stop button on my watch. I slowed down, walked, gulping in air. I looked at my watch - 30:40.41.
I checked my lap times. 5:23.50 for kilometer 5, 5:08.24 for the last. I smile to myself, bathed in sweat, as I walked back to the kilometer post.
Another morning in this ordinary mortal's running life, but a morning sweeter than the ones before.