Friday, June 26, 2009

Pace Run—FAIL—(but in a good way!)

On the training plan for today: Pace run with 1-2 miles warm-up (10-minute pace), 5 miles at half-marathon pace (9-minute pace), and 1-2 miles recovery/cool-down.

What I did: 1½ miles warm-up (about 10-minute pace), 6.24 miles at 8:35 pace, and a quarter mile recovery/cool-down.

Ahem. Well, it was definitely a pace run. More like a 10K pace* than half-marathon pace, but it was a pace!

Here's what happened. I set out from my house at a typical early morning starting pace, 10:10 for the first mile and then another half mile at 9:43 pace, at which point I stopped for my usual bathroom stop.

Let me digress for a moment. I intended to (and ultimately did) run eight miles this morning, but to do that responsibly I should have left home at least 20 minutes earlier than I usually do, and really 30 minutes earlier since I always leave a little later than I should anyway. I set my alarm clock a bit earlier, and planned to minimize the amount of snooze button pushing, but DAMN, it is hard to get up before 6:00 in the morning!**

And I didn't. I did, however, get up at 6:10 or 6:15, and squeezed my heavy, aching legs*** into my running pants (which actually makes them feel better), threw on the rest of my clothes, and popped about 8 chocolate-covered espresso beans into my mouth one by one as I strapped on my gear (Garmin, iPod, etc.). I really wanted to do the eight miles, but I was open to the idea that I might have to cut it shorter in order to actually get to work on time.

I took off (that may be an overstatement, if it implies some sort of velocity) and, as usual, labored to maintain a 10-minute pace. It always amazes me that, in some ways, it seems as hard to run a 10-minute mile first thing out of the house as it is to run an 8:30 mile later on! Anyway, that first mile was a challenge, the next half-mile was a little easier, and then it was time for the bathroom break.

After that I immediately pushed myself into the "pace" portion of the run. The thing is, I pushed myself right past my target 9-minute mile to somewhere in the neighborhood of 8:30! I didn't really want to pull back, though, since I had an uphill ahead which I knew would slow me down some. So I decided to just go with it.

And went with it I did. To the tune of 8:34, 8:38, 8:39, and 8:50 for the next four miles. Of course, when I hit the 8:50 mile I figured I had finally settled into the 9-minute pace neighborhood. But then the next mile came in at 8:31! That mile would, of course, be the fifth and technically final pace mile in my run. But I realized (as I was powering through that fifth pace mile, partway up a hill), that I would be on the downhill stretch after I finished, and why would I want to slow down on a downhill? So I decided to keep up the pace for another mile... then figured I might as well keep it going to complete 10K.

I was rewarded for this decision by an 8:03 pace for the next mile. Only .2 mile left in the 10K (although I ended up going .24 mile before stopping the timer). The time for that almost quarter mile was 2:01. It took a lot of fancy calculator work later on to convert that to a pace for .2 mile, so rather than trying to explain it I'll just say that it translates into just about 53 minute for the 10K. Don't ask me to show my work, please!

I was pretty thrilled with this time and pace for a 10K, especially considering that I didn't even have race adrenaline and competition to spur me on. My all-time 10K PR is 52:51, so I was pretty close to beating that in a non-race situation. I now have a legitimate hope of a new PR, and at the very least a great race, in the Yankee Doodle Dash on July 4!

By that time I was almost home, and I did jog the last quarter mile at recovery pace, 9:41.

And I still had time for a quick breakfast and still managed to (just barely) get to work on time. And I was coasting on endorphins for most of the morning. It was a good day!

I'm doing my weekend long run tomorrow, Saturday, instead of on Sunday, as I am going on a garden tour with my mother on Sunday and it would be hard to work in a run. I have 13 miles on the schedule...ironically, as most everyone else in the Seattle area will be running the Rock & Roll Marathon or Half Marathon. I had no particular desire to run this one, largely because the route seemed very unappealing to me. Really, who wants to start a race in Tukwila? (But enjoy, everyone who's doing it!)

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

*Although to safely PR I would have to average an 8:30 or faster pace.

**It is also hard to get up before 6:30, or 7:00, and I'm not sure what time I would say it is easy to get up!

***Why do I always feel like I've been hit by a truck when I get up in the morning?

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