Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Feeling fast (but not really)

Have you ever had a point in a run where you feel like you feel like you are flying, your legs move effortlessly, and you think you must be hitting an exceptionally speedy pace...and then you look at your split and it is surprisingly slower than you expected? That happened to me this morning during my first speed interval. (The others weren't so fast either, but by that time I didn't have any illusions about breaking land speed records.) But it's okay! I still had a good run. Here's how it went down.

Yesterday afternoon I got an email about an emergency meeting at 8 a.m. today. Scheduling-wise, this created a bit of a crisis because I rely on starting court at 9 a.m. (and barely get done running and dressing to be on time for that). I "needed" to do my run on Wednesday morning because Tuesday was an off day already and I didn't want to stack too many runs at the end of the week in any case. (I say "needed" because obviously, running is purely recreational and in the end I need to adjust it for work obligations, not adjust my work to accommodate running...too much.)

Anyhow, obviously I needed to get out at least an hour early to allot the usual amount of time to running and still attend the meeting. So I set my alarm for earlier and resolved to spend less time hitting the snooze button and checking email and just get out and going. I did okay...I walked out the door about ten minutes later than I intended, but it was still a lot earlier than my typical morning.

It was still dark, of course, but pretty balmy compared to Monday. It was almost like...dare I say...a spring morning!

I started with 2.25 miles warm-up. My warm-up miles are always so slow. Sometimes they are even slower. Today they were pretty darn slow, at least the first mile. On the second one I didn't even look at the time. One of my current resolutions is not to worry about the warm-up pace. So many things contribute to what my legs are willing to do first thing in the morning. Darkness, outdoor temperature, whether my legs are tired or always takes me at least two miles before my legs are ready to come to the party.

My plan for today was 2 x 1200 (3/4 mile) plus 4 x 500 (half mile). Since I was on the road instead of the track, I also plotted my route to allow me to do the intervals without dealing with too many stoplights and other distractions. One thing I did not contemplate, however, was how many miles it would take to accomplish all the speedwork plus recovery between each was more than I expected, which contributed a little to my time crunch in the end.

There are many disadvantages to doing speedwork on the road. One of the advantages, though, is getting the benefit of the downhill portions of the road. My first 1200 was on a slight downhill. From the moment I took off my legs felt so light and speedy, none of that awkward effort I sometimes experience...surely I must be going at a sub-8 pace. My time goal for the 1200s was 6:05-6:10...surely I would beat that. And the Garmin said...well, I can't remember exactly. Around 6:20ish. Pace of 8:28. What? I guess I should have been suspicious when at no time did I feel like I was going to suck my lungs out of my body.

The second 1200 was back the same route. So, slightly uphill. It was a few seconds slower--no surprises there. Plus, I did feel a little like my lungs were going to collapse. Back to normal, then.

My 800s were to be done at about 4:00. My first one was about 4:05 (actually okay), and the others were slightly slower. On #3 I had to run through the students milling about the sidewalk at Everett High. On #4 I turned around the block but I did get to finish on a downhill.

Distance-wise, it took more than 6.5 miles to get all this done...not great on a day with a time crunch! This is partly why I ended on the downhill. Normally I would have that as part of a cool-down mile, but I really had no time to do anything but finish. My total distance was 6.75 miles.

Maybe I am too lax, but I am not terribly disturbed that I could not meet any of the goal paces today. I felt like I was putting out a really strong effort and definitely got some benefits from the run. Next week I can do my speedwork at the track (spring break), so this will be a good measure of what my speed really is for short intervals. (On the schedule--two sets of 6 x 400. Gulp.)

I know--or at least I believe--that the short distance speedwork is not the most crucial for marathon training, or even half marathon training. But I think it is still important, not just because the Run Less Run Faster people put it on the plan. As I said the other day, I am way too accustomed to running at a comfortable pace. Speedwork forces me out of my comfort zone, and I hope makes it easier to push myself on race days. Also, I think that making myself really uncomfortable on some runs will improve my cardio ability, and make my easy runs a little faster. And I do want to do okay in the occasional 10K and 5K.

And getting to that 8 a.m. meeting? Well, I stopped at Starbucks, walked home, then cleaned myself up and dressed in superfast time. (Let's just say that I really need to wash my hair with shampoo tomorrow....) I was about 15 minutes late but the meeting started late anyway. So I was rewarded for my laziness. Or at least not penalized.

Tonight I am making vegetable curry using a combination of the recipe in my sidebar and this recipe from the Amateur Gourmet (which is very similar to my recipe anyway). The star of this show is cauliflower! I am so excited.

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