Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ipswich Bike Path Tempo

3 mile w/u + strides
Target: 8 mile tempo @6:05-6:10 pace
Actual: 13k (8.08 miles) @50:00 (6:10 pace)
2 mile c/d
Total: 13 miles

After two consecutive days totaling 20+ hours in the car, a 10pm arrival to our new home in Marblehead and an alarmingly early 5:30 wakeup call on Wednesday, I was not super pumped about attempting this workout. My legs were still quite sore from packing and moving, not to mention tight from being crammed in the car, and I was running on little sleep. Fortunately/unfortunately, when your boyfriend also doubles as your roommate and coach, there's little chance of a workout like this not happening. We quietly packed our bags for work and sipped some coffee in the darkness before hopping back into the car a mere eight hours after we'd left it. Jordan knew of a flat unpaved bike path that he'd spotted near our office when he was driving to Newburyport a few weekends ago, and ever since then he'd pegged it as the site of my next tempo run. For better or worse, that run was happening today.

We found the path relatively easily despite the darkness and our unfamiliarity with the area, and after strapping on our headlamps we set off into the darkness. The cold and damp air permeated my multiple layers, and though I was wearing spandex shorts underneath my tights I doubted I would be able to strip down when the time came. Fortunately by the time we turned around halfway through the warmup the sky was lightening ever so slightly, and after 25 minutes of easy jogging I reluctantly admitted I'd be able to shed a few layers. Still, my body felt terrible. The strides were halfhearted at best, tired and sluggish, and though Jordan tried with uncharacteristic enthusiasm to pep me up I was having none of it. Before we began, I was 100% sure I was about to bomb this workout.

And then, inexplicably, quite the opposite happened. From the first few steps I found myself surprised at how easily the pace came. Jordan set the tempo and I clipped along with him, sometimes behind and sometimes beside, my stride fluid and my breathing relaxed. Often during tough efforts I catch myself engaging in negative self-talk and discouragement, but this morning my thoughts were positive and upbeat. Even when the path ran out unexpectedly and we had to make an unplanned u-turn, even when we had to literally mark time at several road crossings and waste precious seconds waiting for morning traffic to pass, I remained composed. With 4k to go we crossed the road where we'd parked our car and ventured over to a new side of the path, and I had every intention of crushing the final 15 minutes. Unfortunately, however, at that point the trail surface changed significantly. What had previously been firm, densely packed dirt and gravel now gave way to loose sand and rocks interspersed with awkward bumps and divots, all the while grading consistently uphill. In short, we'd left a greenway and found a cross-country course. The scenery and foliage was beautiful, and I'm sure I would've loved this path on another day, but for the purpose of this morning's run it was definitely sabotaging my efforts. I finally turned around with 2k to go and tried to pick the pace back up on the downhill slant, but overall the final section proved frustrating. That said, when I finished at 50 minutes I couldn't believe how manageable the workout felt relative to my body's (and life's) general state of shambles. On a paved surface without any interruptions I'm confident I could've run close to 6-minute pace with ease. I guess I need to always keep in mind that the way my body should feel or perform during a workout isn't necessarily indicative of how it actually will. It's important to keep an open mind and always remain optimistic rather than counting myself out before the first steps are taken. I'm sure there are more important lessons to learn in marathon training, but that one definitely has to be near the top of the list!