Saturday, April 21, 2012

Charles River Tempo Run with the BAA

2.5 mile w/u
Target: 6-7 miles uptempo; first 4 easy with group then pick it up
Actual: 6:35ish, 6:20ish, 6:08, 6:08, 5:52, 5:56, 5:36
3 mile c/d + strides
Total: ~13 miles

As is becoming fairly routine for Saturday morning when I'm not out of town, I met up with Terry and Carly and a solid BAA contingent at the Harvard track. I was pleasantly surprised to also see Teresa for the first time since her kick-ass 10k at Stanford, and was also glad to finally be formally introduced to Caitlin's good friend Liz. After a relaxed warmup filled with stories and conversation, the morning was already off to a great start.

Trotting back over to the starting point of our familiar 4.2-mile loop, I'd already decided to tuck in for the first few miles since I knew some girls wanted a conservative pace. (As a side note, multiple people have told me that this is the "slow" tempo loop on the river as opposed to a different, faster course that the BAA also sometimes uses. All I know is I've joined them at least a dozen times and we've never once worked out on the "fast" loop. Terry, I know you're reading this--stop holding out on me!) Teresa felt the same, seeing as she's fighting a troublesome hip and attempting her first workout since Stanford, so we just settled in at the rear and spent the first few miles chatting. I could already tell that all of us felt worlds better than when we'd done a similar tempo two weekends ago (which was so abysmal I didn't even bother to blog about it), and just knowing that gave me the confidence to hold back early and save up for a strong finish.

I should also mention one other factor that led to me restraining myself today. After several weeks of waiting, I found out yesterday that I was accepted into the 10k field at the Penn Relays next Thursday (yes, five days from now). Jordan and I will already be there on Karhu business, so I reached out to the meet director with the mindset that I had nothing to lose by using this as a rustbuster in preparation for next month's BAA Twilight meet. Now that I'm officially in, I'll need to strike a careful balance over the next few days of still striving for fitness gains while not overdoing it so I can be fresh come Thursday night.

Back to the tempo and the start of the second loop: at this point our group began to string out a bit, with Teresa and I naturally taking up the charge. I felt a little strained but overall still comfortable opening up my legs a bit with Teresa. Considering that she just ran 32:50 for 10k a few weeks ago, I fully understand that I wouldn't have any hopes of staying with her on a normal workout, but today I had a lot of fun trying (and failing miserably) to emulate her form and match her long, loping strides. Opting for only six miles, she pulled away from me midway through the second mile of this loop and powered to the finish. At this point I was surprised to see Melissa Nash, another BAA girl, sticking close and then sprinting around me to finish her own six miles quite strong. I was definitely hurting now, but I also knew the third mile of the loop was the fastest and would offer me a gentle tailwind. I pushed as hard as I could for the next five minutes and was rewarded with a 5:36 final mile. I'll take it.

The hard part over, I continued jogging the loop until I met up with Carly and we finished up the run together. A few more laps on the track with Terry, a few strides and then it was time to enjoy breakfast and the beginning of a relaxing weekend at home.