When last we heard from Brian the Runner, I had finished my speedwork Thursday night and, although I had lost track somewhat of my distance and time, was fairly sure that I was, in some ways, faster than I used to be. I intended to test this theory during my long run.

Today was my long run. I ran on well-rested legs (didn’t run yesterday), I did use my albuterol inhaler, I ran in my Adidas, shorts and a long-sleeved shirt. My nanoPod served up Radiohead, “Hail to the Thief” (great running music, by the way) to start me off.

I was running at the gym, of course. It’s been way too cold and rainy to run outside, at least for me. Luckily, Saturdays are not busy at my gym, so I had my choice of all the good treadmills today. And with the gym being so empty, I didn’t have to worry about getting kicked off during my run.

So, with all that aside, and after walking for a quarter-mile, I started my warmup – 2 miles at what felt like a fairly easy 9:50 pace. I felt sure I could go faster, but wanted to save my legs for the next phase.

The next phase being my test: how far could I go at a 9:00 pace? I hoped for at least 2 miles. I knew it would be challenging for me, and worried about being able to keep up. I also worried that my warmup might have sapped my strength. I needn’t have worried, however.

It was challenging, but I did manage to complete 2 miles at that pace! Due to the limitations of the machine, I had to set an indicated 8:57 pace (the next slowest speed was 9:05), but when 4.00 miles came up (that includes my warmup, remember) the clock showed 37:53 elapsed time. Subtracting 20:00 and 2.0 miles, that means my pace for that last two miles was 8:56.5. Which is a new personal record; my fastest-ever 2 miles. I wish I could bronze those two miles for a permanent record. I guess this blog entry is the best I can do.

After that, I needed to take a bathroom break. Then I went back on the treadmill for another 3.25 miles at an easy pace, since I still wanted to do at least 7 miles today. I didn’t keep track of the pace for that final stretch, but I set the pace on the machine around 10:00, with two walk breaks of less than a minute and some other fooling around with the pace.

So, it seems that there’s still improvement to be had for me in terms of speed. If I can do 2 miles at that speed, I can do 3 miles… eventually. And maybe even 6 miles… eventually. That’s as far as I’ll hope for now. I am over 40, after all. Time and biology are against me, but I’m not going down without a fight, that’s for sure.

I’ll continue with my speedwork and long runs, and make sure I give myself plenty of rest, and, come next Spring, I should be able to turn in some personal bests, after just over 2 years of running. Such a good feeling to overcome mental and physical obstacles. If only I can apply that feeling to other areas of my life…