Back when I was still racing a lot, I never really set out to break certain time goals. With track workouts once a week and long runs every Sunday, I could feel an improvement with my base easy pace. This in turn translated to faster racing times. Without time goals, there was no pressure to keep on dropping finish times, but drop they did, and every time it happened, it was a pleasant and satisfying surprise. For example, I ran my first marathon in the Philippines in about 5:35, the second one in Honolulu around 5:20. By the time I ran my third one, the time had dropped to about 4:30 and it kept on dropping until I reached a final PR of 3:29. All of these times were not planned but rather a consequence of being able to train well. It was not as if I told myself I’m going to break five hours today, or four hours, or run an average of 8 minutes per mile for the whole marathon. I just relied on my training, put one foot in front of the other after toeing the line and just let things fall where they may. It was the same for the half marathon, 10 mile, 10K, and 5K. Mind you, this was before they had timing chips, so the clock started when they fired the gun, not when you crossed the starting line.
At the time that I set all my final PR’s, I retired from racing because it was also at that time when I bought my condo, and with the mortgage payments, I couldn’t afford to pay for races any more. My base pace became progressively slower from then on. Nowadays, running a pace of 10 minutes per mile feels like what 8 minutes per mile used to be. My cruising pace wouldn’t have deteriorated so badly if I didn’t have the right ankle PTTD problem. But I’m not complaining. I consider myself to have had a marvelous racing past because I dropped my times unexpectedly and unplanned. If I have anything to lament about today, it’s not that I have slowed, but that I have bad ankle tendons.
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