This upcoming Sunday I am running the Bloomsday 12K in Spokane. Today I wrapped up a couple of pre-trip details, reserving airport parking for the weekend, making a dinner reservation for Saturday night. Hotel is long since reserved and airplane tickets have been purchased. My mother and I are leaving Saturday and staying over to Monday. I'm excited!
About ten days ago I mentioned my goal for Bloomsday as being "as close to one hour as possible." Luckily that leaves me plenty of leeway. While I would love to do it in one hour, I don't really think that's a feasible goal for this race at this time. The "problem" with Bloomsday is the long (about a mile?) hill in the second half of the race. No matter how well I run on the rest of the course, I know that hill will slow me down in a way that probably can't be fully made up for in the other miles.
Also, I'm not too sure where my speed is at these days. I feel really good about my training for a marathon pace of around nine minutes per mile (give or take a few seconds). But I think all my tempo and pace work in the marathon pace neighborhood may have detracted from my ability to run faster over short distances. I gauge this by my recent efforts at speedwork which have been successful, but frequently slower than I hoped they would be.
Still, I've been doing speedwork and hill work with the goal of improving my performance at Bloomsday (as well as other upcoming races). Last Wednesday my schedule called for hills, I think six or eight repeats. Instead of doing my usual quarter mile hill intervals, I opted for a longer hill workout, 1.3 miles mostly uphill and then back downhill, repeated twice. I wanted to work on downhill speed as well, while I was at it.
A caveat: My 1.3 mile hill was not all uphill. It starts out pretty flat but inclining upwards, turning into a moderate uphill for about 3/4 mile total, then the next 1/4 mile is downhill; finally, the last .3 is a steeper uphill. All that is reversed on the return.
I will admit right now, I went out too fast in my first segment. For quite some time my Garmin was showing a sub-8 pace on the gentle incline, slowing slightly as the hill increased. My first mile was 8:16, and the additional .31 mile was at 8:55 pace; the average pace for the whole distance was 8:26.
I am certainly happy with that pace, but the problem is that my lungs were screaming and there is no way (I believe) that I could pull off that pace in the middle of a race and still continue to finish the race. I also think that pushing myself so hard on the uphill took away some ability to run as fast as I might have downhill. My average pace for the return trip (mostly downhill except for that quarter mile uphill section) was 8:05.
Between each split I walked and rested for a few moments before going into my next segment. I also had lights along the way that I had to occasionally stop for (pausing Garmin), although I believe that I hit every light green on that first uphill and didn't have to stop at all.
My second uphill was slower on the first mile and a little faster on the final .3 (8:28 and 8:49 pace). The average for the whole distance was 8:31.5 (okay, I didn't want to round up to 8:32).
Finally, on the last downhill I averaged 8:21 overall. A lot slower, yes...the consequences of burning myself out. I don't think I did such a good job at working on a sustainable fast pace (I did better in a similar workout prior to the Shamrock Run) but I think there's also some benefit to putting it out there as hard as I can, even if it's not a realistic pace over the long run. At the very least I gave my heart and lungs a good workout! The entire run, by the way, including a warm-up and recovery portion, was about 10.5 miles.
Friday morning I did my weekend long run of 14 miles at 5:15 a.m.! That is an achievement in itself, let me tell you. My plan was to do some warm-up miles, then three miles at some level of fast; recover for about a mile, then another three miles "fast." I also had to tweak my route to pump it up to 14 miles, which is much further than I usually run just around town.
I won't go into detail about the various backs and forths and arounds and abouts that it took to accomplish my distance goal. I ran about 10K (6.25 miles, actually) for the initial warm-up period. It doesn't take 10K to warm-up (even for me, although I am notoriously slow to get going), but I wanted to do a good bulk of the run before I went into acceleration mode.
So after that 10K portion (we're talking pace in the "more than 10 minute" range), I kicked into my first three mile pick-up. I will characterize these three miles as "marathon pace"--9:16, 9:13, and 8:51. Slower than I'd hoped, but still more than a minute faster per mile than I'd been running beforehand.
Then I did a little more than a mile at recovery pace (about 10-minute pace). The distance was mostly designated with further planning of my route before launching the final "fast" three miles. Those miles--8:49, 8:39, 8:56. I guess marathon pace again, while dipping my toes into the half-marathon pace pond a bit.
I consider myself lucky that I managed that last mile under nine minutes at all, actually. My route planning was a little flawed in that I had no alternative but to go uphill for mile 3 of this segment. I could either turn around and go up Everett Avenue like on Wednesday, or continue on and go up a very steep one-block hill on 23rd, followed by some more gentle inclines off and on. I opted for 23rd and decided to give it my best push as I plowed up it. Unfortunately as I turned onto 23rd I tripped or lost my balance or something and ended up falling hard, partly onto a grassy parking strip but grazing my left knee on the sidewalk. I did manage to stop the Garmin after a few seconds and I lay on the ground swearing and trying to regain my equilibrium before standing up. Iwas wearing long running pants so my major injury was not from the sidewalk but rather from my pants rubbing the skin off my knee. I am not sure if I damaged the pants at all as they already have some micro-holes in that knee from a previous fall!
Finally I took off again and was able to push myself hard up the short hill and through the rest of that mile. I was quite okay with the 8:56 result. After that it took another .63 miles of jogging (though at a 9:34 pace, not too shabby) to finish up my distance (14.01 total). That landed me at Starbucks and I still had enough time to get a mocha and walk home to get ready for work. I did forgo the time it would take to eat breakfast at home, though. After I got showered and dressed (and threw away a few minutes on last minute packing for the weekend), I threw together a waffle sandwich with two lowfat Nutrigrain waffles, peanut butter, and my ubiquitous blackberry jam (actually it is Oregon marionberry jam!).
This morning, Monday, I went out to run conscious of how slowly I had run yesterday (because of the trails, but still). Usually Monday is a recovery day and slow in itself, but I didn't feel like I had anything to recover from. My long run was days before and I didn't think that Sunday's eight-mile trail run had beat me up very much.
So I decided to push myself a little more than on a typical Monday. Unfortunately I had trouble getting out of bed, so I didn't leave home until almost 6:30 (about 15 minutes later than usual). Another reason to go a little faster, though, to make up for time lost lounging in bed!
I started out at 10:13 and picked it up pretty steadily after that. The next half mile was 9:52 pace, then 9:14, 9:24, 9:25, 9:22, 8:52, 8:18, and a final half mile at 9:00 pace. Average pace for entire run was 9:17. Okay for Monday!
I am so glad I went out this morning even though I didn't want to get up, because it was mild and balmy and dry. This afternoon has been muggy, and windy, and now rainy. Not appealing for a run! Allow me to feel a little bit smug. My next run is 800's on Wednesday. The forecast is not good...rain again. I may be running in the mud!