Saturday, December 3, 2011

Charles River Tempo with the BAA

2 mile w/u
Target: 60 min. tempo @6:00-6:05 pace
Actual: 1:03:30 for 10.45 miles: 6:25, 6:07, 5:57, 6:00, 6:02, 5:59, 5:57, 6:03, 5:57, 5:53
3.5 mile c/d
Total: 16 miles

After what turned out to be a busy and exhausting week of work--including three consecutive 12-14 hour workdays--nothing could have made me happier than Emily's email suggesting that we start the workout at 10am today. Coincidentally we had nearly identical tempo runs on our schedules, and the idea also interested fellow BAA runner Teresa and BAA coach Terry Shea. I'll admit I was just a tad nervous as Jordan and I made the drive down to the city this
morning as these ladies aren't exactly slouches. Emily is the current Canadian National Marathon Champion, and former Stanford standout Teresa recently qualified for the Trials with a 1:14 half performance in Philly. That said, I know I'm getting fitter by the day, and I was looking forward to the opportunity to have someone other than Jordan dragging me around.

We parked at the Harvard track, adjacent to our meeting spot along the Charles, and set off for a few easy miles. The air was cold and crisp but the wind was calm and the sun warmed our skin almost instantly. In short, it was a great day for a long hard run. The BAA contingent was quite familiar with the 4.2 mile loop we would be traversing, one that turned out to be quite flat but not necessarily fast due to the frequency of turns and some unexpected puddle jumping during the first few miles. However, with no stops or street crossings it was definitely our best bet for today's effort. The plan was basically to run the loop 2.5 times, taking our splits at each mile marker but then clicking our watches again after completing the .2 miles from the end of the fourth mile to the starting point. This meant the tempo distance would actually be closer to 10.5 miles, but with only 10 mile splits taken. (Trust me, it's not nearly as confusing as it sounds. Basically we just had .2 miles of "freebie" distance after each four mile loop.) Ever the overachiever, Jordan was planning to alternate between 1k hard (i.e., solo) and 2k easy (i.e., with us). This meant that only Emily, Terry, Teresa and I would be together the entire time.

Just past 10 the group was assembled and ready to rock. Since none of us had taken a very long warmup, we decided to ease into the pace with a relaxed, "slow" warmup mile. I figured this would be somewhere between 6:20 and 6:30 and was indifferent to the 6:25 split. I knew the pace would quicken soon enough, which it almost instantly did. I could tell that Teresa, who has struggled with injury over the past few months, began to labor when the pace dropped significantly between miles two and three. She chose to stop after the first loop, leaving me with Emily, Terry and sporadically Jordan. By the halfway point, I also found myself feeling decidedly labored. My breathing was fine, but my legs felt tired and heavy. Emily, on the other hand, looked fantastic. She naturally assumed the leadership position in the group and kept pulling me forward to keep up with her short, swinging ponytail. After the sixth mile I told myself to just hold on until seven and then I could back off. After seven, I resolved to complete the second loop before slowing to something more comfortable. Then, just as we approached the starting line for loop #3, I found myself suddenly hit by a second wind of sorts. Within a few meters my mental state went from "Sweet mercy, just hang on for a few more minutes" to "Hey, I think I can pick up the pace." Sure enough, our last two splits were the fastest of the day--although even that wasn't enough to wear out Emily, who went on to complete the full third loop!

For my part, it was exciting to see over half the splits clocking 6:00 or faster, something that rarely happens for me in tempo runs. The other day I said to Jordan--half jokingly, but in reality speaking the truth--that if the Trials were tomorrow I'd have already done significantly more quality than I did before running my qualifying time last year. As exciting as that realization is, it only serves as more motivation to keep pushing my limits and seeing just how much fitter I can get in the remaining six weeks. Working out with people like Emily, who are clearly faster than me but not so far out of my league that they crush my spirit, is exactly what I need right now. I look forward to many more sessions like this one in the weeks and months to come.


mfranks said...

OH MY! This is amazing- Kroshus is my freakin hero, honestly!

We raced together a little bit before college...if you can call it that. She came back from Princeton after suffering from a bad injury and pneumonia the whole I did get to run a few races with her but always behind her. The women has done it all and is an inspiration for all of us.

What a treat and a great workout with the trials coming up SOON.

Take care,