Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Harvard Track with the BAA

2+ mile w/u + strides
Target: 6-8x1k starting @3:25 and working down w/1:45 rest
Actual: 3:24, 3:23, 3:22, 3:21, 3:18, 3:17; 4x200m @~33
2+ mile c/d
Total: 10 miles

In a rare case of the stars aligning, I was able to leave work a few minutes early and join in on a BAA track practice. Last weekend Terry and I had floated the idea of trying to sync up a workout with Brett, and we were able to peer pressure Emily into joining us with relative ease. All day long I found my body humming with that familiar feeling of nervous excitement usually only experienced leading up to a late-night race; this time I attributed it to being both apprehensive about stepping onto the track, which I rarely do, and giddy over the prospect of doing so with other women, which probably hasn't happened since the last time Caitlin and I took to the oval at least a year ago. As the afternoon wore on, however, my nervousness morphed into being less about the task at hand and more about the impending weather. Sure enough, by the time I pulled up to the Harvard track a few minutes before 6:00, the wind had picked up to a brisk 20 mph and ominous clouds were beginning to block the sun.

As our group embarked on a slow warmup loop, it became apparent that despite my fervent hopes to the contrary the wind was going to be a significant factor. The Harvard track is completely exposed and breezy even on the calmest of days; this evening, the home stretch was so gusty it was almost comical. Fortunately, running a 1000-meter interval meant that we could intentionally stage the start and finish to have three straights with the wind at our backs and two with it in our faces; unfortunately both curves were windy enough that it was pretty much a wash. With three of us running together, the plan was to alternate leading one entire interval at a time, ideally limiting (and spacing out) the number of laps when each of us would have to face the gusts head-on. Even if this wouldn't make a huge difference physically, the mental reprieve was almost more important.

From the start, Brett got us settled in perfectly on pace. She's just a few weeks back into workouts after taking down time due to a hip injury, but from tonight's effort you would hardly know it. Similarly, Emily was attempting sub-6 minute pace for the first time since a mini-retirement last month, but of course fell into step seamlessly. We came through the finish line in 3:24, then had just enough time to jog the remaining 200 and shed our long sleeve layers before assembling for the start of interval two. This time it was my turn to lead, and I was blown away (pun acknowledged) by how much more noticeable the wind was from this vantage point. Emily took us through the third rep significantly quicker thanks to a 77-second first lap (during which she apparently construed my "settle down, Em" comment to actually mean quite the opposite), and we continued to hit the desired splits for our target progression. All the while the sky continued to darken and the winds swirled ever stronger, making it hard to hear Terry calling out our 800 splits despite passing within only a few meters of him. By the start of the sixth interval I think each of us were convinced this would be our last repeat at this distance, though none of us said so. Emily solidified it by taking things out hard and distancing herself by at least five meters on the second lap, by the end of which we were all simply tired of battling the weather.

Looking to Terry for guidance, he suggested we do some on/off 200s to get in a bit more speed and distance while letting the wind help us along for a change. I expected each "on" split to be somewhere around 36, but instead the tailwind propelled me forward at a much quicker pace. I surprised myself by feeling faster and stronger during these short segments than any time in recent memory--and, honestly, I could've gone faster had the goal been to run all out as opposed to just opening up the legs. Physically and mentally, this was undoubtedly a more encouraging way to close the workout than battling through two more 1000s.

In short, despite the adverse conditions I'm really glad I made the trip into the city. I can't guarantee I'll be able to come every Wednesday, but I want to make a conscious effort to join at least a few times a month when my work and travel schedule permits. The teamwork and comradery of a group effort such as this is something I haven't been a part of in a long time. It definitely made what would've been a frustrating effort into something rewarding and enjoyable.


mfranks said...


I want one of these too. I'm hoping Montreal will be mine. If not, maybe someday.

mfranks said...

OK, I commented on the wrong post. My mistake.

This should probably be expected...