It seems to come around so often... like every week! But it's speedwork Wednesday again, and on the docket for this morning was 6 x 800m at 10K pace, which I have tweaked to six half-mile* intervals at 10K—or 5K—pace.
The last time I did half-mile track intervals was two weeks ago, and I had to cut the scheduled number from five to three (and a half) because I did too long a warm-up and ran out of time (bad Kristin!).
Today I was determined not to have that problem, and I did the math and knew that six half-miles would make three miles of running, plus the recovery time between laps and after I was done, so I directed myself not to run more than three miles (or so) before starting the laps at the track.
So for my warm-up I ran my usual route up to the hospital (1.5 miles), where I used the bathroom (as usual) and then turned around right away to make my way back to the middle school track, which is about a quarter mile from my house. I resisted the urge to run downtown before heading back. I knew that would make my total distance too long, plus the sprint down the hill on Everett Avenue to Broadway is usually my final hurrah before finishing, so I didn't especially want to do that and then go on to do another 3+ miles of speedwork.
I arrived at the track with exactly 3.5 miles on my watch, which was just fine, in fact it was perfect.
And then I faced the fearsome track. It's funny, I have no problem running three miles; obviously it's just a fraction of what I do regularly, but still, the idea of running twelve times around the track kind of filled me with dread. Low level dread, more like going to the dentist for a cleaning than going for a root canal, but certainly not glee and anticipation.
But it must be done. (Just like my dentist appointment on August 7.) So I reset the Garmin, lined myself up at the "starting" line, counted "ready set go"—and I was off.
I do not look at my watch when I am running intervals of less than one mile. I do not study the pace that Garmin claims I am running. I establish my pace only by feel. And although these repeats were supposed to be at a 10K pace, which I guess would be somewhere between 8 minutes and 8:30, I was secretly determined to keep them at 8 minutes, or preferably below. Which is, basically, 5K pace. (I'd be joyous if it were a 10K pace!)
As I've mentioned before, the track at the middle school is not a regulation track. It's about .3 miles around, and I've previously measured out the stopping points for both a quarter mile and a half mile. The field inside the track is used for baseball and I suppose other field activities, so it has a sprinkler system to keep the grass nice and green and soft for kids to roll around on. A sprinkler system which comes on early in the morning. Like around 7:00 or 7:15.
Yes, for my first two or three intervals I got to run through the sprinklers. Luckily it was not cold enough that it was too bothersome, but it wasn't warm enough yet that I welcomed it either. I cringed a little each time I had to run through the mist and spray. (I'm sure that slowed me down by a second or two!) But after a while the jets moved from the end of the field along the track toward the middle of the field, so all I had to do was avoid the big puddles caused by the water falling onto the track.
Each half mile required one full revolution of the track and about 2/3 of a second time around. Each and every time I thought the second lap was faster and easier. Perhaps it was the knowledge that I would get to stop soon, once I was on the second time around.
I can see now why doing multiple intervals (within reason) is a good thing too. It is one thing to put it all out there one time, but you have to call on the reserves to keep up the pace as you do it again, and again, and again (etc.). When I was on the downhill side of my workout (that is, intervals 4-6), I could feel my legs were a little tired and I wondered if I was slowing down. On the other hand, running felt a little bit easier and more natural in the later laps. Again, I wondered if I was slowing down or just getting more into the groove!
After each interval I jogged for about a minute to finish going around the track and return to the starting line (a little less than a tenth of a mile—I was slow), then paused for a sip of water and to regroup myself at the starting line.
In the end, I was very pleased with my results. I did each half mile at substantially quicker than 8-minute pace. Here are the overall stats.
3.5 miles. 10:11, 9:24, 9:16, and .5 mile at 9:08 pace.
.50 mile - 3:48.85 (7:40 pace)
.50 mile - 3:51.20 (7:42 pace)
.49 mile - 3:48.48 (7:48 pace)
.49 mile - 3:46.40 (7:44 pace)
.49 mile - 3:46.34 (7:41 pace)
.49 mile - 3:44.26 (7:37 pace)
(Plus recovery jog, 10-10:30 pace, between each interval.)
.43 mile at 9:27 pace.
7.36 miles in 1:07:07, 8:51 average pace.
That last .43 mile included running back around the track in the opposite direction, then over to Starbucks to meet my mother. Who was waiting for me because I realized shortly after I left home this morning that I had forgotten my house key, so I called her to arrange a meet-up so she could let me into the house. Funny thing, after we met and I got us lattes at Starbucks and she drove me home, she came this close to dropping me off and driving away again, because we both had forgotten the whole reason she was there!
*A half mile is 804.672 meters. In case you were wondering.