Saturday, December 17, 2011

20k Tempo Success

2.5 mile w/u
Target: 12 miles @6:05-6:10
Actual: 20k @6:05 pace (1:15:52)
19:10 for 5k; 38:05 for 10k; 57:10 for 15k; last 5k @18:42
3 mile c/d
Total: 18 miles

First things first: Jordan actually said he was impressed with my workout. Out loud. And better yet, in writing. This is unprecedented, folks. I'm tempted to just leave it there and call it a day for this blog entry. However, since I know you're dying to continue reading, I'll share a bit of insight into how the workout went down.

For starters, it was a rare treat to sleep in. I woke up before 5am on Friday morning to slog through 10 miles on the hotel treadmill in Nashville--for the record, this was the same treadmill I'd had the pleasure of getting acquainted with less than 10 hours prior--and then booked it to the airport for an early flight. I arrived back home in Boston just in time to greet my parents, who were flying in to visit for the weekend. So not only did I get to sleep in until 7:30--!!!!--on Saturday, but I had the pleasure of lounging around with Jordan and the 'rents until almost 9:00 drinking coffee and catching up. When we finally did suit up for this morning's effort, my dad eagerly tagged along. He wouldn't be attempting the hard effort, but with a nice warmup through town and down the causeway we were able to give him directions for the Neck loop and back home. With many miles of hard work ahead of us, we wouldn't see him again for several hours.

From the outset, I knew it was in my interest to simply fall in step behind Jordan and let him dictate the pace. His queenmaking skills haven't let me down yet, and today would be no different. So even though the first rolling loop of the Neck felt like a jog, I resisted the temptation to ask him to speed things up. With over 75 minutes of hard running required, no heroes would be made in the first 5k. During the second loop I still felt terrific aerobically, though the constantly undulating terrain began to take a bit of a toll on my legs. We exited the Neck into a stiff headwind along the causeway somewhere between 11 and 12k, and at that point I told myself I only (only?) had less than 8k to run. We'd decided in advance to make up this distance with a simple out-and-back on Atlantic, headed first in the Swampscott direction and then returning back to our original starting point near the Neck. This section was nowhere near as hilly as the Neck, but I soon found out it consisted of a lot of false flats and gradual grades. The wind proved even more cruel than the terrain, seeming to shift its diabolical aim every time we turned expecting a reprieve. I was lucky to have Jordan out front, but his 135-pound frame can only do so much.

With 1k to go, we turned back onto Beach for a truly flat final stretch out to the causeway. This was when Jordan told me I was running well enough to "earn" a bonus 12th kilometer. Awesome. Actually I was still feeling surprisingly strong, but that didn't stop me from gasping out to him that I didn't want to be forced to finish uphill on the Neck. He replied, "Don't worry, you'll stop just at the base." As it turned out, he was wrong by about 100 meters. The last minute of the final kilometer was agonizing as I tried to push the pace uphill, somehow managing to finish with the fastest split of the day. (See Jordan's recap for all the gory numerical details.)

Even without looking at the numbers, I was pleased with how today went based on the perceived effort alone. I'm in the middle of my highest mileage week of the entire cycle and straight off a travel day, not to mention the terrain and conditions of today's course are much more difficult than I'll face in a month's time. In looking at the splits, I consistently got faster throughout each 5k and finished the final segment at or just below six-minute pace. That said, when I look at the big picture it's almost incomprehensible to think that I'll need to run an additional 22k at this pace in order to achieve anything close to my goal time at the Trials. I'll just have to trust that my fitness, combined with an appropriate taper and the energy of the competitive atmosphere, will be enough to make me swift on my feet when the time comes.