Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Breaking Through

2.5 mile w/u
Target: 6x5 mins @~5:45 pace w/2 mins. rest; 20 min. tempo @6:20
Actual: 6x5 mins @5:42 down to 5:30 pace; 20 mins. @6:04, 6:02, 5:52, 2 mins.
2 mile c/d
Total: 13-14 miles

At one point during our warmup today, Caitlin remarked that she was holding fast to the confidence she gained a few weeks back during a killer 3x2 mile workout. It was that session, she said, that told her she was ready for her upcoming half marathon at Houston. I remarked that I hadn't yet experienced that feeling of completely nailing a race-specific workout. Typing this entry a few hours later, I can say that confidence has finally arrived.

In hindsight, today's workout had all the necessary ingredients for success. Caitlin and I had managed to recruit two companions: Jordan (whose Achilles is much improved thanks to Dr. Greenapple's ancient Chinese magic) and Heidi, a New Yawker and Duke alum who is in town visiting her in-laws for the week. We met at lunchtime, after all of us had plenty of time to wake up and get the blood flowing, and though the air was cold and damp there wasn't so much as a whisper of wind. The 6x5 minute format was Caitlin's idea, and Jordan suggested that it would benefit me to tack on a 20-minute tempo at marathon pace immediately after. Sounded intimidating, but I was game.

As is often the case for me, I muscled through feelings of sluggishness and lethargy during the first few intervals, perfectly content to tuck in behind Caitlin and Jordan while my legs grew accustomed to the pace. The second interval led us all the way back to Old Bell, and once we turned around I finally settled into a groove. I found myself splitting 5:30 pace or faster through the halfway mark of the final three intervals, and my body inexplicably responded by growing more comfortable with the increase in pace. That said, my legs felt pretty fatigued after the final segment, and for a few seconds I questioned whether I'd be able to maintain marathon pace for the upcoming tempo. Fortunately I didn't have much time to ponder, as Jordan and I picked up the pace as soon as we returned to the starting line of the Footlocker course.

Fearing the worst, I was pleasantly surprised to find my breathing relaxed and my legs fully functional as we settled into pace. To avoid the mud we'd slogged through during the first part of the workout, I suggested we turn left at the half mile mark and continue along the paved section of the trail. This meant I would be running slightly uphill for the first two miles of the tempo, followed by a 180-degree turn and slight downhill to close things out. I was pleasantly surprised to split 6:04 for the first mile, which felt like a jog. A slightly tired jog, but a jog nonetheless. The pace continued to feel comfortable and relaxed for the remainder of the tempo, and there were several times when Jordan had to chastise me for trying to pick up the pace further. It's always my instinct to leave it all out there at the end of a tough workout, but fortunately Jordan was there to remind me that the purpose of this effort was to run relaxed and controlled as opposed to just barreling ahead as hard as I could. He's a smart one, that boy.

So, in summary, I'm quite pleased with how this workout turned out and even more pleased to have shared it with such great company. Does this mean I'm ready to run Houston in three and a half weeks? I'm still not convinced. But without a doubt this is a step in the right direction.


Mad said...

get excited for houston!!!

mainers said...

you'll be ready!

Anonymous said...

What's it gonna take to convince you that you're ready for Houston? National record? Go down there, break 2:35, and qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials. Easy, squeezy, Japanesy - you've got this.