Sunday, August 19, 2012

Charles River Tempo

~3k w/u
Target: 12 miles @6:00 pace
Actual: 5.5 miles @6:00 pace; 5 min. bathroom/jog break; 2.5 miles @6-5:45 pace; 3 mile c/d
Total: 13-14 miles

Despite being fewer than 24 hours removed from a busy week on the west coast and a redeye flight (all of which I will recap in my "Week in Review" if you can stand the suspense until then), I was excited to get up early and head into the city for this run. The air was cool, the group promised to bring a positive vibe, and I would finally be reunited with Emily after a summer apart. Never mind the fact that this would be my longest tempo run attempt in many months by a healthy margin; I was game to fall in with the group and hang on for as long as I could. That said, as we drove toward the Charles and discussed the week's training, Jordan was insistent that I not "go to the well" in this effort. In addition to my general state of fatigue, I'd also run 90 minutes/13+ miles uptempo on Friday morning in Vancouver's Stanley Park and I was wear testing a brand new pair of pre-production lightweight trainers for Karhu R&D. In other words, all signs pointed to me not feeling fantastic.

And yet, from the outset, I did. I fell comfortably in line behind two male BAA runners, then Jordan, then Emily and Jenn Donovan. My breathing was comfortably even and my stride felt smooth and relaxed. We were tracing the "fast" tempo route, a new (to me) section along the Charles that felt more conducive to finding a rhythm to the 4.25 mile route I've always run with the group. I intentionally didn't look at my watch or try to deduce splits, as I wanted to neither feel emboldened nor intimidated by the numbers displayed there. I was simply along for the ride, feeling out my alleged fall marathon pace. All was going well until just past five miles when I felt some rumbling down below. No sooner did I begin to despair than we (literally and figuratively) turned a corner and I spotted a Dunkin Donuts tucked in a strip center across the street. Proving myself to still be worthy of the "Green Lightning" moniker, I stealthily slipped off the back of the group, darted across the four-lane road and into DD, took care of business, and was outside casually jogging toward the group by the time they reappeared from the opposite direction after the six-mile turnaround. I hadn't intended the break, but once it happened I was hopeful I could keep up with the group until the end. That plan promptly went out the window when Jordan hit the front and the pace palpably dropped. In the span of a few minutes I went from completely at ease to decidedly out of my comfort zone--a telltale sign of my recent lack of workouts. Sure enough, after the next symphony of Garmin beeps I heard someone mutter "5:45," and that confirmed what was becoming increasingly obvious: it was time for me to shut things down. Meanwhile Jenn had already dropped back a bit but was still chugging along faster than 6-minute pace, and Emily was doggedly matching the guys step for step. Part of me yearned to keep pressing and see how much farther I could go, but I reluctantly yielded to the more mature, sensible part that knew I'd taken on enough for this particular day. I slowed to a stop, gathered my breath for a few seconds, then set off on a loping jog toward our start/finish spot. By the time I arrived everyone had scattered off in the directions from which they'd originally come, leaving only Emily, Jordan and I to set off on a half-hearted cooldown jog before deciding it would be much more fun to stop running and go get breakfast. So we did. And it was.

All in all, not a bad morning.