Like I said... humble beginnings.
Now, in my latest race, the World's Best 10K, my official time was 1:37:21 with an average pace of 15:36 min/mile. Exactly one whole minute difference in pace and I was running three times the distance. Not bad.
Even more telling though, are the numbers from a run I did last Saturday. It was a 2 mile run that is part of my newly started Half-Marathon training plan. It had been a while since I ran such a short distance so I decided to go all out and run as fast as I thought was possible while still finishing. Result? 24:05. Almost 10 minutes faster than that old 2 mile run and my average pace was 12:01 min/mile, which includes an amazing (at least I thought so) 11:33 first mile. Back in January I had made a couple of "silent" goals I hoped I could achieve through the year and one of them was to run a 12 minute mile. Anywhere in the 12's would have been fine and here I am 30 seconds ahead. Obviously I can't sustain that speed for an entire race and I certainly still run in the "snail" category but I would definitively call this past year a success and full of improvement.
The Half-Marathon plan by the way is going pretty good. Without showing you the actual plan (I'm sure Runner's World would not be happy if I posted a plan they sell to people on a book) I can tell you it's pretty fitting for where I am right now as a runner. There really are two differences between the plan and how I was running until now: a)The plan has 4 running days and I was doing three. b) It has a variety in terms of types of runs, where I was focusing on distance exclusively. It starts at 13 miles per week which is exactly what I was running and it peaks at 23 miles around weeks 8 and 9. (it's a 10 week plan)
As I mentioned previously, one of my concerns about running a Half-Marathon in May was my pace. Mindy, who's blog Road Runner Girl I read frequently, mentioned that it would be a good idea to try speed work to improve my pace. This plan doesn't include that but I think I can work it in a bit. Because the plan has 4 running days, the miles are more spread out as opposed to what I was doing that concentrated everything in three runs. This means two "short" days, or days where I run just 2 or 3 miles. Why not push it a bit on those days to work on speed? So I'm definitely picking up the pace on those days.
Also, there is one "medium" run during the week where according to the plan, I have to run a part of it at "Half-Marathon" pace. Now, I've heard about this before. "Marathon" pace, 10K pace, etc... Like you're supposed to run them all different speeds. I only got one speed folks, which I like to call "Half-Elephant" pace. My mom would tell me in my teenage years I had three speeds: Slow, Very Slow and Standing Still, but I digress. The point is that these runs where I have to "shift gears" will be interesting. I don't know what my Half-Marathon pace is but since my goal to not get picked up and the race pace limit is 16 min/mile, I think my goal pace should be between 15:00 and 15:30 min/mile.
Can I pull it off? It remains to be seen but I can tell you I'm working hard to make it so.