Saturday, September 24, 2011

Two Workouts in One Week. True Story.

Workout #1: Tuesday, 9/20
2.5 mile w/u
Target: (3:00 uptempo, 1min. jog, 1:00 fast, 1 min. jog) x 6
Actual: Above
3.5 mile c/d
Total: 11.5ish miles

After traveling to Massachusetts for work on Monday, Jordan and I had to improvise Tuesday's workout setting. We settled on the Marblehead Neck, a spit of land that juts out from mainland Marblehead and boasts more multi-million dollar homes than the Booty Loop. (Very Great Gatsby-ish, or at least what I envision when I picture something Great Gatsby-ish. I could be totally wrong here, but you get the gist.) A few weeks ago when staying at my boss's home in Marblehead I
'd done a run around the Neck, and though I remember it being a very pleasant and charming outing I couldn't recall much about the distance or the terrain. As I would discover today, it turns out there's not a flat stretch of road on the entire peninsula. That might not be of much significance during a lackadaiscal easy run, but when you're less than one month clear of injury and attempting your first workout in twice that time, the prospect of a constant roller coaster ride can be pretty daunting. It's almost better that I didn't remember what I was getting myself into.

An aerial view of the Neck

Prefaced excuses aside, this turned out to be a successful effort. I benefited greatly from having Jordan front and center to set the pace, both of us grateful for the recent upswing in the health of his foot. Since I don't own a Garmin and had no bearing for distance markers on the Neck, I was at the mercy of Jordan's pace-setting abilities and my own questionable fitness level to dictate the pace. Gear-changing workouts like this aren't my forte even when completely fit and healthy, but I tried to sprint the one-minute sections as hard as possible while still making sure I would be recovered enough to start another uptempo section in a minute's time. Predictably, I excelled on the segments with more downhill and struggled a bit on those with a less forgiving grade, but in the end according to Jordan I ran "well," which is as lofty as his praise gets. Apparently I averaged 5:50 pace or faster on all the three-minute segments, so I would guess the one-minute segments were around 5:30 pace, but honestly the specifics are beside the point. The objective of today's workout was to run hard but controlled, and that hurdle was cleared with room to spare.

Workout #2: Saturday, 9/24
3.5+ mile w/u
Target: 25 mins. uptempo (~6-6:10 pace); 3x2 mins. @5:30 pace
Actual: 25 mins. w/4 mile split of 24:01 (6:02, 6:05, 6:00, 5:53); 3x2 mins. w/400m splits of 82, 79, 78
2 mile c/d
Total: 11 miles

What's that they say about the best laid plans? All week I'd intended to workout on Friday with Caitlin and Spada, but that dissolved when they had to start at 6am and I had to take Jordan to the airport (yes, the same airport we'd just arrived to 12 hours prior) at 6:30. I dropped him off and drove to Old Bell to soldier on alone. Throughout the 30-minute drive the sky was dark and overcast but with scarcely a drizzle--that is, until the exact instant I pulled into the parking lot when the clouds opened up and commenced a deluge of diluvian proportions. Equal parts stubbornness and the desire to not waste a drive out to the park forced me out of the car and onto the trails, but less than a mile later I had to turn around when the rain was so intense that it literally stung my eyes with each shard of moisture. Begrudgingly, I decided to try again tomorrow.

Tomorrow, which of course is actually today, began auspiciously enough. Megan Hovis and I agreed to meet at Old Bell mid-morning, she for an easy 34-mile run (not really, but close) and me for some company on the warmup. The 75-degree air was fraught with humidity and the sky promised more rain, but we were both confident it would hold out until the afternoon. Three miles later, we were proven wrong. In a scene so identical to yesterday it was almost comical, seemingly within seconds the ground went from dry to literally soaked with rain, more puddles appearing and overflowing by the second. Every time we thought it couldn't rain any harder, Mother Nature just laughed and kept dumping it right on our heads. At one point Meg's contact lens got pushed halfway behind her eyeball by the insistent drops. The only thing more ludicrous than attempting a workout in yesterday's weather would be doing the same today, but at this point I didn't have much choice. Meg and I bid each other a soggy farewell before going our separate ways with promises of checking in with each other via text later to make sure we hadn't drowned or gotten trapped in the park.

After a few minutes of stretching and trying to collect myself mentally, I set off from the start line of the Footlocker course. I turned left at the bridge past the half-mile marker while the rain intensified with every step, hoping that neither the road crossing nor the wooden bridges would be too treacherous to pass. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself right on pace after the first mile despite multiple instances of bobbing and weaving around puddles and, in some cases, charging through calf-deep water. There were several moments when I could scarcely see three feet in front of me due to the volume of the rain and the complete saturation of my contact lenses--not it really mattered, since I spent the entire run with my head down to navigate the rapidly eroding landscape at my feet. About halfway through, soaked to the bone and shaking water from my head like a truculent puppy, I literally began laughing out loud. There may exist worse conditions for trying to run fast, but I've yet to experience them. And yet somehow the pace didn't lag too much, although admittedly I was working much harder than I should've been to hit the prescribed times.

And then, just as suddenly as it began, the rain ceased. Almost immediately the sun burst forth from the clouds, causing a steamy, stifling mist to rise from the ground and into my already oxygen-deprived lungs. Did I mention the weather wasn't ideal? Regardless, I finished the tempo with my fastest split of the morning and then wogged around for a few minutes before starting the two-minute intervals. 75 degrees and flooding might be borderline dangerous, but 75 degrees and steaming is almost more uncomfortable. Like the tempo, the quicker intervals felt much harder than I would've liked, but by this point I was just so thrilled to be done that I hardly noticed. I felt good enough on the cooldown to throw in 5x20 second strides, more to pass the time than anything else, and finished up at my car feeling as though I'd just endured a monsoon worthy of Noah and his furry friends. It wasn't pretty, but I got it done.


mfranks said...

Awesome! Two great workouts! Can't wait for 13.1 super fun miles.
Or....1 hour 20+/- minutes of feeling like I'm about to fall out. See you soon!!