Thursday, May 3, 2012

12x800 Success

2.5 mile w/u
Target: 10-12x800 @2:35-36 w/2:30 rest
Actual: 2:36, 2:36, 2:36, 2:34, 2:36, 2:35, 2:35, 2:34, 2:36, 2:34, 2:35, 2:34
Average: 2:35.1
1.5 mile c/d
Total: ~10.5 miles

After several underwhelming race performances in a row, Coach Jordan and I decided to take an analytical look at my training and try to fill in the missing pieces. It's obvious that months of marathon and half-marathon training have made me strong, but what seems to be lacking is a comfort level with sustaining a quicker race pace. In Jordan's opinion, the best way to achieve that is simply by running harder, faster intervals. Sure enough, if you look back at my training under Coach Simmons in 2010, during which I set all my current track PRs, my log is riddled with sessions like 12x800, 20x400, 25x300, etc. I can't even remember the last time I've done 20 times anything, so needless to say my training has changed drastically since then. But if I'm really going to try to throw down a fast track time this spring, then we both agree that's what it's going to take.

Despite our newly steeled resolve, the workout got off to a decidedly inauspicious beginning. We left work a little bit early on Wednesday afternoon and jogged to the Beverly High track across the street...only to discover a high school meet in progress. Refusing to be deterred, we immediately hopped in the car and drove home, then jogged over to the Village School track...where another track meet was taking place. At this point we were out of options and time, so we just acknowledged that it was not meant to be our day and set off for a few easy miles instead. Thursday morning we were out the door early, this time finding the Village track completely quiet and deserted. Perfect conditions.

From the outset, my plan was simple: Latch onto Jordan. Stare at his back for two laps. Rest. Repeat. I can tell he's getting back into shape as he's recently started adding on amidst his queenmaking duties, and today was another example of that. I'd stop after 800 while he continued on for another lap, which meant the 2:30 rest was more like 1:15 for him. I'm ecstatic that he's getting back in shape, but on days like this I'm even more grateful that he still deigns to drag me around for a bit at girl pace. I can't expect these days to last forever, but you can bet I'm going to take advantage of them for as long as possible!

As should be expected, it took me a while to ease into a pace I'm seldom accustomed to running. It wasn't until the end of the third interval that I finally settled in, only to be thrown for a loop when Jordan dropped the pace seemingly significantly on number four. Seeing 2:34 on the watch sent me into a mini-panic, and I immediately asked that we back off a bit for the next few. (Mind you, at this point I still thought we were stopping at 10. I would've probably had a full-blown panic attack if I'd known we weren't even close to halfway through. I guess sometimes ignorance really is bliss.) The middle section of the workout felt the most comfortable, and I breezed through intervals four through eight with minimal discomfort. Then, Jordan dropped the bomb: 12 is the new 10. Ugh. Mini-panic #2 ensued, and admittedly I backed off way too much on the ninth repeat to compensate. This snapped me back to reality, and I closed out the final three with strong, if unremarkable, splits.

In order to put this workout into perspective, I think it's worthwhile to reflect on the two times I did something similar in the spring of 2010. On April 6th, I completed 12x800 with two minutes rest and averaged 2:36.7. This was several weeks after I ran 34:37 at Stanford. Just over a month later--in what is widely touted (by me, the only person who cares about it) as the best workout in the history of my entire life--I ran the same workout with 2:30 rest and averaged 2:33.3. Several weeks later I would run a tactical 34:50/16:35 double to earn All-American honors at D2 Nationals. Today I didn't come close to that average, or to the 2:30 I hammered for #9 and #12, but I still surprised myself with how close I came. With another month of work I might even be able to better that 2010 workout, which would be no small boost for my confidence. I'm excited at the prospect, and excited to learn that perhaps my fitness is (almost) there after all.