It won't take too long to write about last week's running, because I only ran on three days (as opposed to my usual four). That's based on the running week beginning on Monday and ending on Sunday, as seems to be the norm for running calendars.
My running days got cut back this week mostly because I ran five times the previous week, which threw off my schedule a little bit. Previous week: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday (5K+) and Sunday (long run). I thought about going out this last Tuesday, but opted not to, and just went to the Y like I usually do on Tuesday mornings. My training schedule had this week as a cut-back week, so I didn't feel too concerned about low mileage or anything like that.
I was back on track Wednesday with 8.51 miles including speedwork. Despite my two days off from running, my legs were not feeling especially speedy when I went out! I didn't fuss about it though, I just let them do what they wanted for my first five miles since that was my warm-up. My pace varied from a glacial 10:45 (first mile) to 9:58, and everywhere in between.
Then I hit the track for some speedwork, four 800 (actually half-mile) repeats with about a quarter mile recovery between. The first one was a little bit discouraging, as it was the first time I had done a half mile (in speedwork) that wasn't under four minutes. This one was 4:01, which Garmin translated into an 8:04 pace. Really, that's not horrible, it's a very respectable 10K pace, or so I told myself!
The remaining three were much more satisfying though, and got progressively faster as well. 3:56 (7:56 pace); 3:53 (7:48 pace); and 3:47 (7:32 pace). Now we're talking! My training schedule has 800's every three weeks; next time it will be 5 x 800. This week I get to do 4 x hills! Hurrah! (Ha.)
I finished with a recovery lap around the track and ran home. My average pace for the run reflects the slowness of the non-speed miles: 9:41 average per mile.
My next running day was Friday, and the schedule called for six miles at marathon pace (I call that nine minutes or below, though technically anything under 9:09 could qualify). This was going to be a little tricky to accomplish, I thought, because I was supposed to meet Ann and Arjin at the office to run with them (five miles), and I wasn't sure whether I could work the pace miles into our run. But I also had a dentist appointment at 9:30 a.m., which meant I couldn't fool around too long.
What I decided to do was leave home early enough (ideally at 6 a.m.) to run five miles on my own before meeting the others at 7:00. At least three of those could be at MP. Then, after we warmed up on the group portion of the run, I figured that at least the last two miles could be pushed to 9 minutes or below, possibly leaving one more mile for me after I left them and headed home.
My plan actually worked out a lot better than I even expected. After my first mile I felt like I could pick up the pace and possibly begin my marathon pace miles earlier than I had planned. Mile 1 ended at Starbucks on Colby and (after a quick bathroom visit), I pushed myself pretty hard into speeding up. That mile included the uphill portion of Colby, and when it finished at 9:02 I decided that was close enough to count. My next three miles were much quicker, 8:32, 8:30, and 8:34 (plus .13 at 8:28 pace). That definitely gave me four miles at marathon pace and, actually, my average pace for the whole 5.13 miles was 9:02!
When I got to the office Arjin was there but Ann was not. We weren't sure if she was coming, but by 7:15 decided she wasn't and took off. It was probably going to be easier this way for me to get my pace miles in, since Arjin is obnoxiously fast when he wants to be (which is probably more often than I allow when he's running with me). Mile 1 - 9:28. Mile 2 - 9:10 (not quite MP-qualifying). Mile 3 - 8:53. Mile 4 - 8:51. Mile 5 - 8:37. Plus .10 at 8:19 pace. Done! With the pace work. The average pace for those 5.1 miles was 8:59. So, really, all 10.23 miles were in MP average range. I was quite pleased.
Despite my time crunch to get to the dentist, I ran back to Starbucks (instead of just home) and then around the block enough to add on two miles to my total (12.23 miles). I got a mocha, walked home, and hustled to get showered and dressed (and brush my teeth well before the dentist appointment).
So that brings me to Saturday. Also the day for the Run for Haiti in New York City. The virtual run part of it can be done any time between February 19 and 24 (in fact I could have used part of Friday's run, if I wanted to), but I thought it would be nice to do it on the actual day.
But not at the actual time. 9 a.m. in New York would be 6 a.m. here--no thanks. 9 a.m. here, not that much better. I decided to let myself sleep in a bit and just run whenever I got out there later in the morning. Plus, I had book club Friday night which involved a fair amount of heavy food* that needed to get digested!
By the time I did go out the early morning frost had melted away and the sun was shining brightly from a blue sky. I put on sunglasses and it was sunny enough that I couldn't even tell I was wearing them for the duration of the run. I don't know how warm it was, maybe upper 40's or even into the 50's when I left home. I was comfortable in my Lucy half zip without an extra layer, and even though I wore gloves to start out, after a couple miles I took them off and stuffed them into my waist pack.
I decided to partially emulate my successful run on Friday by starting out in the same direction, south on Colby to 41st. I hit two miles just prior to 41st, and so when I turned around to go south again I restarted the Garmin to begin my four mile "race." My plan was to keep going north on Colby as far as I could, and if that didn't make quite four miles, figure it out from there.
I will admit that northbound on Colby does include a fair amount of downhill grade. I figured that this was okay because, after all, this was my own race and who cares if I select a favorable route? Plus, it's good practice for my legs to run fast, even if it is a little easier to do so than it might be under other conditions.
Mile 1 - 8:16. Mile 2 - 8:13. Mile 3 - 8:26 (this one did have an uphill!). At about 3.75 miles I was approaching the end of my road and I had two choices. One, I could turn around and retrace my steps. Or two, I could continue onto Marine View Drive and finish the last quarter mile on a substantial downhill. What do you think I picked? Mile 4 - 7:52. Total: 32:47 (8:12 average pace).
Okay, so that left me on Marine View Drive heading toward the waterfront marina, which isn't exactly what I had planned for the day. But it didn't matter, I would just keep going and do a loop back to downtown. My training schedule only called for eight miles, and I had already finished six; I suspected that I would not get back in two miles! But I kind of wanted to do extra anyway.
So I took a loop around Marina Village (that adds almost a mile), and then plugged up the hills back to downtown Everett (oh, I paid for my gentle downhills earlier). By the time I got to Starbucks I had done a little more than ten miles total. Perfect. My "non-race" miles were in the around ten-minute average range, varying from 10:22 at the beginning to the 9:40's, plus some other 10+ segments as I was struggling back uphill. I'm actually quite satisfied with the combination of "long, slow distance" with the pick-up in the middle.
Since I did the pretty hard runs on both Friday and Saturday, I opted not to run on Sunday (and actually I had to quite strictly forbid myself not to consider a run today, so that my legs could have a rest before Monday morning's run). Instead I took advantage of the lovely afternoon to walk to the Y, where I did spend a couple hours pedalling away like a hamster on the ellipticals. I watched some of the ski cross and biathlon (cross country skiing) while I was on the machine, so I had a bit of vicarious skiing to distract myself. (I also read a ton of blogs on my BlackBerry! Keep writing, people! I'll be back at the Y on Tuesday!)
I finished off with some push-ups and a few minutes of yoga-style stretching (downward dog, sphinx, pigeon, various bends and twists). I am so happy that I returned to yoga; I can rely feel its effects on my hips and glutes (two areas that seem to take a hit from running).
Although I had a pretty big restaurant breakfast with Rod this morning (veggie scramble, potatoes, a piece of toast), by the time I got home from the Y I felt sort of under-fueled. I wasn't horribly hungry but felt almost light-headed! I made myself a great sandwich with eggplant hummus, spinach, sweet onion, portabella mushroom that I cooked in a grill pan (creating a great deal of smoke and setting off my smoke alarm in the process), roasted red peppers from a jar, and goat cheese. Also a side of pop chips and a few strawberries. I felt much better!
Tomorrow begins the last week of February and the fourth week of Spring Training 2010!
*Deep dish pizza made by Ann; Italian beef salad by me; and Ezell's fried chicken, which Beth brought because it's Oprah's favorite chicken (we had a Chicago food theme).