Thursday, September 3, 2009

A change of pace

I wrote this on Wednesday afternoon, but didn't actually finish and post until Thursday....but I'm not changing everything now!

Today is Wednesday. That probably comes as no surprise to you. To me, Wednesday has become the day when I do some kind of speedwork. This week, Wednesday also happens to be the fourth consecutive day that I have run in the morning. In the three days this week so far, I have run more than 33 miles. So this morning I had a few doubts about whether I could achieve any kind of speed at all, or even do any kind of work! (Running work, that is.)

Yesterday morning, even running ten miles, even running without an ipod, my legs felt good, not even tired, let alone achy. This morning was a slightly different matter. From the beginning my legs felt slow and heavy, almost like I was running in water.

This bore out with my early splits, which were slower than I've seen in a long time, even for warm-up miles. The first mile was a glacial 10:56, followed by about half a mile at 10:27 pace, another mile at 10:06 pace, then another .57 mile at 9:47 pace. (That all adds up to 5K, 3.1 miles, by the way.) I wasn't particularly distressed about this, mind you, just aware that I was moving slowly and suspecting that it was thanks to the mileage volume over the preceeding days.

Still, this was my scheduled speedwork day, and the 5K warm-up took me right to the track. By this time my optimism for fast results was low!

I had originally thought about doing a combination of distances, say 1-mile, half-mile, quarter-mile, then repeat, with goal paces of 8 minutes, 7:45, and 7:30 for the distances (not setting the bar too high).

I started the first mile at a decent steady pace, trying not to glance at the Garmin because what good would that do? I was doing my best. With the "special" length of this track, a mile would require about 3½ revolutions. After a couple of times around I felt okay, but I doubted whether I would have the extra "kick" to increase my speed for the shorter distances. I decided to just stick to the mile distance, and do it three times. With my fine runner's logic, I felt that it would be easier to do a mile three times than to do a mile, half, and quarter-mile two times each! (Check the math on that....)

In spite of myself, I did glance at the Garmin a couple of times (or so) to get just an idea of my pace. The first time, near the beginning, I think it said 8-something. That was no good! I did push a little bit and my other glimpses showed sevens, so I felt good about that.

The one-mile beep on the Garmin came just short of half-way around the track on the fourth lap. My time for the first mile was 7:45! A little better than I had expected, considering the condition of my legs.

I paused a few seconds to catch my breath, then jogged around to the starting point again. This was only .15 mile—the next time around I increased my recovery jog to a quarter mile.

Mile 2—7:35! An even more pleasant surprise. Thank goodness I was using Garmin to track my distance. By the time I was on my third lap for this one I wasn't sure whether I had gone around two or three times. Somehow I didn't remember re-crossing the starting line after finish the first lap.

And then the great finale. I resolved to plug along as best as I could for the first three laps, then give it all I could on the final half. I burst through the figurative finish line tape as Garmin beeped, then looked at my watch. I was stunned to see 7:29! I had broken the 7:30 barrier in my third mile on a day when my legs were in less than top form. And I finished that mile at 7:29 a.m., most auspiciously.

So I was quite happy. A run that started out negatively ended up very positively, and with negative splits! I did another mile or so for recovery, and ended up with a total of 7.55 miles, 9:07 average pace.*

The miracle miles were even more amazing considering that they happened the morning after a night out with the girls, which included a couple of cocktails, lots of carby appetizers (maybe that was the key), a delightful dinner, and this melting chocolate cake extravaganza! (Yes, I ate the whole thing!)**

I have decided, though, that I am not going to try to run on Thursday morning. I have a longish tempo/pace run planned for Friday, and I don't want to completely trash my legs before that. They deserve a little break, considering that they've now run more than 40 miles in four days! That's already more miles than I do most weeks, and I still have one more run on the schedule. So I'll plan to go for a walk on Thursday morning, and make the trip to the Marysville Y to work out on Thursday afternoon. Then up early on Friday morning for a 10 mile run, three laps around Green Lake... that's the plan, anyway!

*You can either look at this my fast miles bringing my average pace down, or my slow miles pushing the average pace up... it's a half-empty/half-full thing, I guess!

**It was my final birthday dinner, a free dinner at Duke's plus free dessert for everyone in our party! Quite a party!


MCM Mama said...

Nice job on the speedwork! I can only manage a 7:30 mile once LOL.

Tina at Gotta Run Now said...

That turned out to be a great running day! I'll have to add chocolate cake to my pre-race meals!