Al Goldstein Summer Speed Series 5K Recap

I used to have really self-limiting thoughts about my running.

I haven’t been running that long.

I used to be fat.

For probably the first two years I ran, I saw myself as someone who had somehow beat the system, snuck in and pretended to be a runner.

Then I started training for the NYC Half, with the goal of going sub-2, and I started believing in myself. I didn’t do it on the first try (or the second, or the third, but that’s neither here nor there), but I started to think of myself as someone who could run for performance, not just to finish. I was only competing with myself, but that fire in my belly had been ignited.


Megan | Meggie | Leticia | some weird blonde chick with an accidental side pony | Jenny | Carla | Rebecca

Last night, I ran one of the Al Goldstein Summer Speed Series races. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re awesome. A $5 5K? Um, yes. They happen every other week in the summer, and last year all of my friends from the Internet went and had fun, and I was never able to make any of them. This year, I’m trying to make it to as many as possible.

I got off the subway and got completely lost trying to find the start of this small race. My directional skills are terrible; I’d need Google Maps to get me out of a paper bag were I lost in there. I started running the loop, hoping I’d run into someone I know, and I eventually saw a unicorn Meggie, who led me to the start and our friends. I’d run 3 miles as a warmup (was only supposed to run 2, so Jess, I would like to request a deduction in mileage somewhere else) and my legs were still a little spent from the tri, so I wasn’t planning on “racing” it.

Rebecca and I started off together, both a little unsure about how it’d go, but trying to run hard. Jess wanted me doing it as a tempo at 8:15ish pace. Oops. I held that for about the first mile, then we dropped to 7:43 and 7:50 miles. My 5K PR is around a 7:33 pace, so I knew I wasn’t going to PR, but I decided I wanted to run as strong a race as I had in me yesterday.

That first mile included a bigass hill, and then it was all downhill from there. Rebecca and I chatted a little, but even a not-really-racing 5K pace is difficult to talk at, so after the first mile we occasionally grunted at each other.

In the last mile, once I hit 2.5, I decided I just wanted to be done, so I ran that last mile in hard and finished in 24:33. A full minute off of my PR, but I was still happy with a strong race.

24:33 is a 7:55 average pace. I never thought I’d be able to run under 8-minute miles, or even one 8-minute mile four years ago.

That was not a fluke, and it excites me for the rest of marathon training. (Which is good, because this is only the first week.)

Oh, and then I woke up and ran 6 more this morning with the lovely Jen. I’m enjoying getting back into the swing of things.

What self-limiting thoughts did you get rid of to become a stronger runner?

26 comments on “Al Goldstein Summer Speed Series 5K Recap

  1. Jen

    Ha! Yay a shout out! I need a tennis ball to my hip flexor and a calf massage after this morning – and never to rearrange my perfectly outlined training plan again!

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Jen: My calves hate me, too. I’m going on a date tonight. It’s totally acceptable to wear compression sleeves on a date, right? #runnerproblems

      1. Jen

        @Theodora: Ha! I don’t see why not, especially if they have fancy colors. I keep stretching my calves by doing heel drops on the emergency staircase at work.

      2. Courtney

        @Theodora: You should absolutely wear them! If he’s a totally awesome guy, he’ll appreciate your calf pain and be supportive πŸ™‚

        Seriously though, I’m currently running a 10:15-10:30 mile pace and working on getting faster (through speed work + increasing speed on shorter runs) and your increase in speed over the last few years is inspirational! πŸ™‚

  2. Jen @ Jens Best Life

    So many. That I’m not strong enough, that I’m not dedicated enough, that I’m not skinny enough. There are a lot and I’m still dealing with them. But I find that when I tune out my mind and just RUN, I tend to have my strongest races.

  3. Lauri

    When I started casually running strictly as a way to mix up my workouts, I remember thinking “I culd never run more than 3 miles at a time.” There was a 4 mile loop at work, and a coworker (who i thought of as a “real” runner) asked me to run with her. i said that i could never do it – But then one day I did. She and I started running together regularly and I crushed that 4 mile loop. There was a killer hill at the end and i always ran it, she usually walked it. I think that boosted my confidence too. i started increasing my distance and ran on my own 4 miles, 5 miles and then 6, then raced a 10k. I eventuall got up to 9 miles and registered for a 10 miler. over the past couple of years i have flirted with running over 10 miles and I am finally considering a half marathon….It’s all about confidence!!!

  4. emmy

    I guess you are at the middle of the seven with number 794 I guess. Seriously when ever I try to run for long distance, I started breeding fast and faster, Dont really know the cause

  5. SuzanneU

    I have recently lost 25 lbs and am getting back to running. I am not the best runner….yet πŸ™‚ Every time I lace up my shoes, I have a voice in my head that says “I am not a runner.” I squash it with “I am stronger than yesterday.” and head out the door. I don’t know where that negative voice comes from. Quite annoying.

  6. Maureen

    Oh so many self-limiting thoughts. I’m too slow, too big, I don’t work hard enough. I’ll never be good at it. It’s something I still struggle with, especially my tendency to downplay any accomplishments as not a big deal.

  7. Molly Ever After

    “I never thought IÒ€ℒd be able to run under 8-minute miles, or even one 8-minute mile four years ago.”

    This makes me happy to hear. I’ve been running for 2 years and I’m at the point now where I want to start getting faster. For me, anything under 10:00/mile is fast, so 7:55 is super speedy! Hopefully one day, with a little bit of work, I’ll be able to run as fast as you!

  8. fiona

    Oh so many! I used to think I couldn’t run on back-to-back days. I still get freaked out every time I run a mile at 7:xx, especially if I have 2 or 3 or 5 more miles to run after that. That I cannot keep up with certain runners. And, on the flip-side, that I should always be running faster than a certain pace, or that I should always run further than a certain distances as well. Basically, I need a run therapist!

  9. Jessica R @ fromthekitchentotheroad

    I had a mental block at 3 miles when I first started running. Once I got passed that it seemed like I had no doubts. I followed a training plan and was so excited every week when my long run would increase. I have now ran a marathon. That is total craziness to me. Now I need to get the “I’m tired” or “I’m injured” (when I’m really not) out of my head to keep progressing.

    1. Svetlana

      @Jessica R @ fromthekitchentotheroad:

      I totally have a mental block at 3 miles… I started running for the first time a few months ago. I ran a 4 mile race in central park which was amazing. Since then I feel like I have mentally/physically plateaued at 3 miles. I have a crazy schedule, and at most run 3 days a week, sometimes 2 days in a row, sometimes I have to skip 2 days. Do you have any advice how to get past this 3 mile block??

      1. Jessica @ FromtheKitchentotheRoad

        @Svetlana: It may seem simple but what I did was tell myself “You’ve already ran 3 miles, you can run one more.” You can make it to 3 miles so add in another 1/4 mile. After a few times there, add in another 1/4 mile to get to 3 1/2. If you do it little by little it shouldn’t be as big of a struggle for you. You can add more or less than that per run, see what works for you.

  10. Jenna Rodgers

    I wonder if they placed the hill in the first mile to separate those who were committed from those who were not. Running up a hill is not an easy feat, so continue to feel proud for yourself for that! Don’t forget to continue training though, that is vital.

  11. Jenny

    “some weird blonde chick with an accidental side pony”


    Honestly, I’m still here: “I saw myself as someone who had somehow beat the system, snuck in and pretended to be a runner.” I feel like I’ve snuck in and am masquerading as a runner at all of these races. I’ve surprised myself being stronger than I thought I was, but I still don’t truly think of myself as a “real runner,” whatever that means. So I’m sure that is self-limiting. Working on it!

  12. Heidi

    dude, i haven’t ran a sub 25 minute 5k since i was 18 running cross country in high school. I was stoked last year pre-baby to get to sub 30. You = my inspiration πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Go for the BQ this fall lady YOU CAN DO IT!


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