Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lead in my legs

Today is probably the first time after a run that I have not whisked my Garmin to the computer as fast as possible to download my data and have a look at my splits. I had a look at the history when I finished running this morning, noted my calories (734) and average pace (9:55, at least under 10 minute miles!), but didn't even scroll through the individual laps. It was just that mediocre.

Today, Tuesday, is not normally a running day for me. Yesterday, Monday, should have been. But when I woke up at 5:30 I heard rain pounding on the roof. Add to that legs that were still pretty trashed from the weekend's work (8.5 mile progression run on Friday, 14.25 mile distance run on Saturday, 12.25 mile walk on Sunday), and the promise of better weather as the week went on, and it was pretty easy to decide to postpone my Monday run to Tuesday. I went to the Y instead. I don't know if pumping away on an elliptical machine is any easier on the legs, but at least it is low impact and it does not rain inside the Y.

This morning there was no rain, my legs felt no worse than they usually do when I wake up, and although getting out of bed is always a challenge, I had no real objection to getting out and running. I wasn't extra early, but I hit the road at 6:30.

Although I titled this post "Lead in my legs," I didn't really feel that bad. That is why it is so mysterious to me that I kept recording miles in the 10-minute range after my initial warm-up mile (which is always slow). With some effort, I manage to get the Garmin to read 9:30-9:40 for various spells, and at least I managed to get enough miles under ten minutes to keep my average (just) under ten. Most disturbing to me was one of my final miles, the one that includes downtown and a downhill slope most of the way, the one where I always record my fastest paced mile without even trying.... That one was 10:05. Now considering that I am pretty sure I spent at least the last quarter mile at sub-9 or faster, what the hell was I doing in the beginning?*

Since that mile took me to about half a mile from home, I really put a big push on the final stretch to make sure my average pace was under 10 minutes. I do have some pride! I managed, just barely, with that 9:55 average.

So that's the "beat myself up" portion of this post, now comes the "rationalization" portion.

I know that sometimes you're on, sometimes you're not, yada yada yada. Maybe my legs were still tired from the weekend, blah blah blah. Maybe the satellites were screwed up and I was really running a 9:30 pace all along! (Now there's the ticket!)

I'm refusing to consider the theory that maybe I've lost my edge and will never run fast again. That's just ridiculous.

I briefly considered that the prodigious eating that I did this weekend (although certainly matched by extensive exercise) is weighing me down, perhaps even putting back on some of the pounds I have lost. (The scale did not bear this out, fortunately.)

It is highly possible that the touchy stomach I had this morning, necessitating not one but two emergency bathroom stops, played a factor in my overall performance. Although I have to doubt that as my intestinal distress actually spurred me to run faster on a couple of occasions (the ones approaching the bathrooms).

All excuses and explanations aside, my pace in fact was not out of line from what I am supposed to be doing in an easy run, according to the McMillan Running Calculator. I have plugged in both my most recent 5K (24:21) and 10K (52:44), to check out what's recommended (as well as my "predicted" half marathon time). Based on the 10K time I could do easy runs at 9:57 to 10:27, and based on the (faster) 5K time, I can do 9:34 to 10:04. Although today was on the slow end, I generally do the easy runs at an average of 9:30 to 9:40 per mile. Granted, that almost always averages in a first mile anywhere from 10 minutes to 10:45 or so, and at least a couple of faster miles at the end.

So, just for fun, what does McMillan predict for my upcoming half marathon on August 1? Well, using the 10K time as the starting point, I could look at 1:57:20 (which I would accept, that's a little bit faster than Anacortes last year). Using the 5K as my basis, though, I could do 1:52:33! Wow, that would be a PR. It's not out of the question... though I am certainly not counting on it.**

Because of the flipped around schedule this week, I'll be running again tomorrow. Wednesday is speed work—my opportunity to redeem myself from today's performance! I have in mind a little twist on my usual method of doing one-mile repeat/intervals. I won't divulge it right now, so as not to commit myself to anything in case it doesn't work out. If it does work out, I'll share tomorrow.***

*Seriously, it makes no sense to me. I even wondered if I forgot to pause the Garmin when I stopped for a few moments to look at the window displays at Renee's....
**That would require an average pace of 8:35 per mile. Hmmm... that's pretty demanding!
***Don't hold your breath, it's nothing too exciting, there will be no juggling, nudity, or jump roping involved.

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