Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Post-Bedtime Workout

AM: 3 miles
PM: 3 mile w/u + strides
Target: 12x800 w/2:30 rest faster than last time; hammer #9 and #12
Actual: 2:35, 2:35, 2:34, 2:34, 2:34, 2:33, 2:35, 2:34, 2:30, 2:33, 2:33, 2:30
(Average: 2:33.3)
1 mile c/d
Total: 10 miles

For a workout that was almost over before it started, this ended up turning into arguably my best track session of the year. I say it almost didn't happen because when we arrived at JCSU around 7:30pm, we discovered that a youth track meet was in full swing. It's not uncommon for the Charlotte Flights youth track program to be practicing while we're there, but seeing an official meet taking place was new for us. We had no choice but to start jogging our warmup and hope that things would be drawing to a close by the time we got back.

Unfortunately, the meet was still in action when we returned, but not for long. We had just enough time to witness the hard fought and highly entertaining 4x100m relays before people started clearing out. At this point it was almost 8:30, and the JCSU coach had already informed us that the lights would be shut off shortly. We knew we were running on borrowed time before the entire track would be shrouded in darkness. With little incentive to dilly dally, we got started right away.

For better or worse, I've come to believe that you can usually tell how a workout will go within the first few intervals. If you're feeling great, chances are the rest of the workout will be solid. If you're already struggling to hit goal pace, well, then it's probably going to be a long night. (Want a great example of the latter? How about last Thursday.) Much to my relief, I ascertained almost immediately that tonight would be indicative of the first scenario. I hit 2:35 out of the gate feeling very comfortable and relaxed, only a stride or two behind Tanya (and Jenna, who was running 400s on the first lap of our 800s). Last time I did this workout I started at 2:38s before settling in at 2:36, but tonight I would not run slower than the opening 2:35. I was also able to gauge the improvement in this workout based on my proximity to Tanya; last time we did 800s I was almost 10 seconds behind her for the entire first half of the workout, but tonight I would stay within a few meters of her the whole time (except when she hammered a blistering 2:20 on her final interval, but I'm getting ahead of myself).

Halfway through the sixth interval, the track suddenly went dark. Only the uptown Charlotte skyline and a well-lit billboard kept the lane markers marginally visible. I've gotta be honest, it was pretty badass (and probably dangerous, knowing my propensity for clumsiness). Fortunately everyone stayed bipedal and in one piece for the rest of the workout, which I suppose is a success in itself. At any rate, shortly after the lights went out I began to feel the early pace take its toll. Our first hammer was slated for #9, and I honestly doubted I could run faster than the pace I was already hitting. Jenna gamely agreed to jump in for my second lap instead of the first, so I tried to stick with her to the finish. It paid off and I ran 2:30, but it would be an outright lie to say I wasn't completely gassed afterward. This is where staying mentally tough became absolutely crucial, and I willed myself to take things one interval at a time until the finish. Sean came in and paced Tanya for her sick final interval, while Jenna jumped in with me again and I just tried to hang on. It wasn't pretty, but I finished just about as fast as I could've hoped for. We cooled down and departed the track just after 10, which everyone knows is dangerously close to my bedtime. Obviously this is later than I would've liked to be out there, but I'll take it given the positive end result.

More than anything, I was stoked to have such a good workout after my lackluster effort on Thursday. Last time I averaged high 2:36s for what was, at the time, my best track workout ever. I remember thinking then about how hard I pushed at the end and how I couldn't fathom running the workout any faster. After tonight I feel the same way. But seeing the improvement from then to now, who's to say that I won't be able to average 2:30 or faster a year from now or even a month from now? One of the biggest hurdles to my success is limiting myself to what I think I can and can't do, being intimidated by workout times and race goals. Nights like this, when I surprise the hell out of myself, give me hope that I might become halfway decent at this whole running thing after all.


Aaron Linz said...

well now I got to run faster! Darn good workout girl! Can't wait to cheer for u at nationals!