Thursday, February 3, 2011

Strange Things Afoot (Literally)

This morning I ran a Medium Freedom Park Loop. There is nothing inherently remarkable about this. Jordan and I have run this 8.6-mile route, which starts at our house, runs down the bike path through Freedom Park, encompasses a Loop o'Booty and then returns us from whence we came, about a hundred times. When running easy, typically I cover this loop in anywhere from 62-64 minutes. On a "fast" day it takes 61. As far as I can recall--Jordan would have to confirm this--I've never broken 60 minutes on this loop, although one time when I was fit last spring I came in just a few seconds over.

Today I finished in 59:11.

This unexpected development comes on the heels of several days when my legs have felt absolutely fantastic. In light of my long, hard "marathon" run on Sunday, this is more than a little surprising. On Monday I gingerly stepped on the treadmill in my Houston hotel expecting to slog my way through four miles. I felt so good that I continued to five and would've probably gone farther had I not been running late for a conference call. Tuesday brought both a morning and evening wear test run with two of our accounts in Austin, and on both occasions my legs felt unusually peppy. Even yesterday, when the temperature was 16 with a wind chill of 8--less than two days after the high temperature was 70, no joke--I clicked off two loops around Town Lake without so much as a whispered objection from my legs. (In hindsight, this could have been because they were frozen. Regardless, I'll take it.)

Which brings me to today. As I was jogging past Queens midway through my run, I decided to embark on an extemporaneous 10x1 minute "pickup" workout. My legs were feeling light and fresh despite a bit of a headwind, and I didn't want to miss out on an opportunity to take advantage of such a rare occurrence. Before I knew it, the "one minute fast, one minute easy" paradigm turned into "one minute fast, one minute faster"; by the time I reached Freedom Park again I was really rolling. I finished the last minuter with just over a mile to go, and instead of jogging it in I decided to push the last mile and really open up the legs. This section is mostly uphill and usually elicits the slowest split of the run, but today I clocked it at 6:00 on the dot. I finished up feeling fatigued and short of breath but also exhilarated and a bit perplexed by what had just transpired. It is rare for me to feel so strong on a cold, solo windy run, especially just a few days removed from an extended hard effort. Perhaps my legs are finally feeling the benefits of last week's taper--aside from Sunday, my mileage and intensity was cut by more than half due to travel and preparation for the race--or maybe my 10:30am start time had something to do with it. Whatever the case, I'm certainly not complaining about setting a MLWR (Medium Loop World Record). This ability to bounce back and return to training so quickly only serves to reinforce my decision to drop out on Sunday. Time to get back to business!