Friday, October 16, 2009

FAILtastic Tempo Run Friday

I'm not one to use the word "fail" lightly, as I am a pretty positive person and prefer lemonade to lemons.* I like to find the good in every run, even if I have to adjust my goals to do so. :) As such, I wouldn't call this morning's run a "bad" run, but as a progressive tempo run, which was my intent for this morning, it certainly was not a success. (Other than that, it was a great run!)

My general plan was to do 10-12 miles, with a progressive pace increase every two miles up to ten. I hadn't firmly decided whether to increase by 15 or 30 seconds (and continued to fluctuate in my mind), but it didn't matter, I didn't manage to do either in a consistently progressive manner!

I went out a little later in the morning, at 7:23 according to my Garmin, and that was nice because it was pretty much light outside. It was also, however, wet. It wasn't really raining when I left home, though, and I had hopes that it would stay that way. (No such luck!)

It was still dim enough that I couldn't glance at the Garmin easily (plus it was covered by my jacket cuff), so I relied on the sluggishness of warm-up pace to keep the first two miles in my progression "easy." At 10:22 and 9:47, I succeeded there, and just about averaged a 10-minute pace for that first segment (just a little slower, technically).

I figured I'd go for 9:30 in my next step, since 9:30 is the pace I generally maintain without too much effort. It would probably be harder, really, to manage a 9:45 pace after getting warmed up. (I say that, but I'm sure I could look back at plenty of runs where I was doing 9:45 without any trouble at all!) That worked, though, and mile 3 was exactly 9:30! Mile 4 was a little bit quicker at 9:23.

By that time I was at Grand Avenue Park, a quarter-mile strip of park along the bluff over the waterfront. Lots of times I do some extra repeats through the park to increase my total distance without changing my route too much (like circling a track). Two ups and downs would be a mile; I decided to double that and squeeze in two miles.

This was also the portion of the run where my pace was supposed to increase to 9:15. The park is slightly uphill in the first half, and slightly downhill at the end, so I figured the balance between slower and faster might even out.... The first mile came out at 9:08, a little faster than planned, but acceptable.

After running up and down a few times and admiring the view each time, I decided, in my final (or was it semi-final) trip to pause and take a few pictures. Here is the marina complex as viewed from Grand Avenue Park.

The southward view looks over the naval base and towards Mukilteo (left half) and Whidbey Island (right) in the distance.
To the north you see the actual marina where boats are moored, with little Hat Island in the center distance, and Priest Point (near where my parents live) to the right.
Back on Grand Avenue, looking northward at Grand Avenue Park.
And up Grand. (I say "up" because it's north, although you can see that the road is a little downhill here!)
I paused the Garmin for these photo stops, of course, and perhaps the loss of speed in my various stops and starts explains how this mile was so off the 9:15 target pace, at 9:27!

The one bonus to my short stop, though, was that when I started running again I felt revitalized, my legs light and my energy high. However, something did not go quite right, because this mile, supposed to be my first 9-minute mile, was a COMPLETE FAIL at 9:35! I really have no explanation. Maybe I was just running too easily.

I wasn't checking the Garmin too much, because it was really raining by now and I wanted to keep my sleeve cuff pulled over it. Plus, the wetter I got, the less I wanted to mess around with my clothing. I think that to do a really precise tempo run, I do need to monitor the Garmin pace pretty closely (even though it can be misleading at times), so that I can push harder when I need to or ease up when I (very occasionally) need to do that.

"9-minute mile" number two—9:16. Apparently I got mile 8 confused with the mile 6 where I didn't quite manage the 9:15 pace.

So at eight miles down, I had pretty well blown the tempo run. I had originally thought I might do my final two tempo miles at 8:30 pace. After all, that's pretty moderate and I knew those miles would be downhill (a stretch that I can often do sub-8). Of course even 8:45 would be okay....

The rain had, by the way, increased to a solid downpour, big drops and all. There was no way I was going to be fiddling with the Garmin. I pushed blindly through the sheets of water and just hoped I was going a little bit faster than the last segment!

And I was, a little bit. Miles 9 and 10—8:52, 8:48. Okay, a minute slower than my "good" pace for this stretch, but whatever. At least I was getting close to finishing!

In fact, I passed by QFC and Starbucks in mile 10. I could have so easily finished the ten miles and then doubled back to quit there. But despite the rain (which had actually let up a little now) and despite my inability to hold a pace, I still felt good, and I had no overwhelming compulsion to cut my plans short. So I plugged on to finish my path through Riverside.**

Mile 11—9:24. Mile 12—9:20. I had planned all along for these last two miles to be at recovery pace. So I consider this SUCCESS. The final .15 mile to the door of Starbucks was at 9:27 pace.

TOTAL DISTANCE—12.15 miles, 9:24 average pace.

After getting my latte (and a box of cookies to take to work), I walked the remaining half mile home. Unfortunately the drenching rain decided to return for the last couple blocks! But since I was already soaked through (with rain from the outside and sweat from the inside), it hardly even mattered.

HAPPY FRIDAY to all, and many good wishes to everyone running the Nike Half and Marathon, or any other races that happen to fall this weekend!

*I actually do like lemons, though.

**The route I was running I call my "perfect 10-mile run" because it is almost exactly 10 miles from my house to Starbucks (in a big loop—actually I live half a mile from Starbucks). I made it into a 12-mile run today by adding the extra two miles in Grand Avenue Park.

No comments: