This morning I woke up in Florida…well not really, but by the fourth mile of my run it sure felt like it. In spite of the heat I had an amazing actual first run with the Nike Run Club (last week I just jumped in there and ran with them for a while). I arrived at the Nike store around 7:45 am. The run started at 8:04 so I had a chance to stand around and talk to the others there. This girl came over to a bunch of us with the word coach on her shirt. She was extremely nice, introduced herself and then started asking us questions. I found out that I wasn’t the only one just visiting Boston.
Before we got started we took a group photo and then did a bunch of dynamic warm up exercises. I never warm up before I run; maybe I should start. Then one of the pacers told us what we would be doing. The plan was to run a loop around the river three times with the loop being four miles long so some people would run four miles, some eight , and then some would run 12. I chose to run eight when I signed up.
We left the store and immediately started running. We ran to the river where I do all my training runs; it really is beautiful. As we went across the overpass I heard some of the runners complaining about the humidity. I just laughed in my head and thought: Florida. I felt pretty good at the start! I was even able to keep pace as I talked to another runner who happened to be from the United Kingdom. I was worried that talking while running would be too hard but at this point it wasn’t. The pacer at the front had said she was going to go 8 minutes per mile, but the front ended up going about 8:30. I tried my best to stay with them. About a mile in I looked back behind me and couldn’t see any of the Nike pacers or people I recognized from the warm up in the store. I knew if I didn’t keep up with the front then I would probably get lost because they go into parts of Cambridge that I am not familiar with. My first mile ended up being 8:47 which was really good because we had to slow down for traffic before we got to the river.
The second mile was a little slower than the first at 9:03. I still felt good, but there were some bridges that we had to cross in Cambridge; bridges aren’t my friends. The lead pacer came over to me to see how I was doing, then the coach caught up and I talked to her for a bit. Everyone was so nice and supportive! The running community is really great and I am so glad that I have running in my life.
During the third mile I was in familiar territory again; it was the path along the river and then over the Harvard Bridge back towards Boston that I usually run. I felt great and started to pick it up a bit because I knew the water stop wasn’t much further and I had to keep the runners in the front in my sight so I knew where to go when I exited the bridge. I ran it in 8:38.
The fourth mile started in the middle of the bridge and I saw that the lead runners were turning left instead of right like they did last week. I followed them and ran as hard as I could. It was really hot out and I couldn’t wait to get a drink and take a breather. At about 3 and a half miles I saw a table set up with the a cooler on it and a Nike + Run Club sign in front of it. I ran toward it, high-fived a pacer, and then grabbed a red Gatorade. The Gatorade was delicious, but I only had about two sips when the lead pacer said “Everyone doing eight follow me! Let’s go!” That was our break? Oh well, I don’t usually stop mid run anyway.
So we were off again on the same path. Since the first loop wasn’t four miles I knew I wouldn’t have eight after this loop. I thought maybe we would run back to the Nike store to make up the eight. The rest of the fourth mile went pretty well as I struggled to keep up with the lead pack again. It ended up being 8:31, I had paused the app when I stopped for the Gatorade.
There were maybe six or seven people in the lead including the pacer. I was just a little bit behind them for a while. I noticed that the photographer was on the side of the path taking their pictures and mine when I came around. Then he would ride his bike past us to a spot further up on our course and take our pictures again as we went by. I didn’t see him during the first loop and figured that he stayed back taking pictures of the back of the group. I really wanted my picture taken with the lead group so I lessened the distance between us until I was in the group. The United Kingdom guy said hi to me as I caught up and I said hi back, but nothing more because of how difficult it was to talk at this point. At the end of the 5th mile I struggled because we went up a hill which I believe was Longfellow bridge. Looking back at my splits now I don’t know why this happened, but the lead group grew further and further away from me even though I was maintaining a consistent speed. At the time I thought I had slowed down, but I guess they just wanted to go faster. The fifth mile ended up being 8:30: my fastest yet!
During mile six , I knew I was almost finished with the second loop because of how short the first one was. I didn’t care; I just wanted to finish. It was incredibly hot out and I regretted laughing about the humidity earlier. My pace showed how much I struggled because the sixth mile took me 9:15 which I think is still pretty great! I got back to the refreshment table at 6.64 miles and noticed that there were only pacers standing around. Where did all the runners go? The coach finished right behind me and the pacers informed her that the others kept going to make up the 8 miles. I thought about going after them but was still trying to catch my breath and didn’t think I could catch up. Another runner came up and decided to run a bit more to get to 7 miles. I thought about doing that too but I was really tired and proud of how I ran so I ended my run on the app. I decided that I would run eight next week.
When some other runners got back we walked to the Nike store and talked as we went. It was nice to chat with other runners. I don’t know any runners in Orlando, but I think I will look up local running clubs when I get back. At the store I grabbed another Gatorade. They were the small ones and I was really thirsty. They also had some gels and protein bars that I tried. After everyone sat on the floor and rested a bit we began to stretch. Our coach went through a series of sitting and standing stretches, some of which I had never done before. I usually do the same exact stretches after every run, but I think I will try to mix it up and add some of these in next time. When we were finished I ran home to shower, so I could get to my hair appointment!
I am really proud of how I did today on my first group run. The Nike app shows you your entire pace throughout the run and apparently at one point I was running a 7:06 pace! I don’t think I have ever run that fast outside during a training run. My race instincts must have kicked in today. My total time was 58:34 for 6.64 miles making my average pace 8:49. I had a lot of fun and can’t wait to sign up for next week!