Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tempo and Track

2.5 mile w/u
Target: 4 mile progression starting @5:55; jog to track then 8x400m @75-77 w/60 secs. rest
Actual: 22:53/5:43.2 avg. (5:47, 5:45, 5:41, 5:40); ~5 min. rest/jog
8x400 @76, 75, 75, 75, 74, 74, 73, 72
2.5 mile c/d
Total: 11-12 miles

Another Saturday morning, another BAA workout at Harvard. Jordan and I were out the door early to make the 8am meeting time, arriving to the track with several minutes to spare. Our predominantly female group included Emily--fresh off a two-week vacation overseas and "fun run" at the London Marathon--Brett and Matt, Melissa Nash, Caitlin's friend Liz and several other BAA regulars. Conspicuously absent were Carly and Terry, who are off in Pennsylvania doing baby-related things. I was excited to have Jordan's pacing services and a solid group effort simultaneously, circumstances that haven't aligned in quite some time. I also felt a bit nervous about the mere 48-hour turnaround time after Thursday morning's 12x800 effort, but my legs felt light and surprisingly fresh enough on the warmup to banish any negative thoughts.

After a quick return to the cars for shoe changes, jacket removals and bathroom breaks, we trotted back over to our starting point on the Charles. Once again we would be traversing the "slow tempo loop," which today would be rendered more unfavorable due to the frequency and depth of mid-path puddles. On the flip side, the wind was uncharacteristically calm, the least obtrusive I've ever experienced on this loop, and though the air felt thick with humidity there were plenty of clouds to keep the temperature comfortable. Since our group naturally fell into two pace tiers, the plan was to give the first wave a 40-45 second head start before Jordan, Emily, Brett and I set out after them. Melissa, who is somewhat between the two groups, would start in the first wave and then latch onto us a few miles in. None of us were the slightest bit surprised that Terry had orchestrated this down to the minutest details even though he wasn't there in person.

Like clockwork, our two waves went off in succession, and I stuck to Jordan's side with Emily and Brett tucked in behind. My legs felt light and fast and the pace came easily. At one point Jordan admonished me to relax, but I didn't feel like I was pressing. Passing the first mile marker in 5:47 was a huge surprise--not only was it well ahead of goal pace, but it felt so easy. A quarter mile later we approached the first group, and true to plan Melissa latched on. It felt great to feed off the positive energy as we all encouraged each other. Mile two, always the slowest portion of the loop, came and went in another surprisingly quick split of 5:45. My legs were still feeling strong, and mentally I was relishing the fact that we were already halfway done. Maybe this short-distance business is better than marathon training! My legs began to fatigue as we split 5:41 on the traditionally quick third mile, but I knew I could keep my eyes glued to Jordan's back for another five minutes. The sound of Melissa's insistent footfalls close behind also motivated me to keep the pace honest. I focused on finishing with good, controlled form, knowing there was still more--and faster--running to be done. Jordan and I crossed the four-mile marker with Melissa right behind, then Emily, then everyone else in quick succession.

Several minutes and a short jog later, we were ready to take to the track. Melissa planned to join me for some of the 400s, while the other girls would go straight into a few k's of on/off 200s. Just as in the tempo, Melissa stuck close on my heels for the first four laps. After today's effort, I'm pretty sure she needs to permanently move up to the quicker tempo group! As for myself, I felt comfortable and strong through the first six, but then the post-tempo heaviness descended into my legs and quickly. Finishing the final two, I still felt strong but was decidedly relieved to call it a day instead of pushing to 10 as Jordan had originally suggested/threatened.

So, to be honest, this workout leaves me equal parts excited and perplexed. Excited because I was able to execute two of arguably my best workouts of the year in close proximity, but perplexed about why this obvious fitness hasn't translated to my most recent races. Mentally, I needed today and Thursday to get my confidence back on track. Physically, I'm trusting that these efforts will manifest themselves soon. Honestly, I think my races would go a lot better if I could enlist Jordan's queenmaking services like I do in workouts. Maybe he could just wear a feminine wig? Actually, given the fact that he shaves his legs and is currently sporting a mullet longer than Billie Jean King's, that might not be necessary.


mfranks said...

Meagan, you are SO FIT! You will get that 10K trials standard!
Nice work!