Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Eight By Mile By Moonlight

2.5 mile w/u
Target: 8xmile w/1 min. rest: 2x5:50, 2x5:40,2x5:35, 2x5:30
Actual: 5:47, 5:48, 5:38, 5:39, 5:37, 5:36, 5:34, 5:32
0.5 mile c/d
Total: 11 miles

Actually, there wasn't much moonlight. I just liked the alliteration. In reality, this evening was just as drizzly and cloudy and gloomy as the handful that have preceded it. The only bright spot was a metaphorical one, the opportunity to work out with a strong contingent of BAA ladies. For the first time in many months, I made the trek down to Harvard for the Wednesday night workout and ended up being incredibly glad I did. This lengthy but not particularly fast workout, which looked benign enough on paper, ended up being a bit of a grind. I suppose that mentally I was flashing back to the last time I did mile repeats on this track, a cool spring evening almost six months ago when I'd clicked off six repeats with two minutes rest and averaged around 5:20. Never mind that I'd been at the peak of my spring fitness and running significantly less weekly volume; in my mind, running just two more intervals at a significantly slower pace should be a breeze.

In summary: it wasn't. But with a little help from my friends, I got through it.

For the first two intervals, I jumped in with a group that was running 1200 repeats. Unsure of what 5:50 pace was supposed to feel like, I tucked in at the back of the pack and hoped we would settle into a rhythm. Instead our first few laps were all over the place, resulting in me overcompensating and inadvertently splitting an 81 last lap to ultimately finish ahead of schedule in 5:47. That may not have been the smartest move on my part, but I reasoned that I'd rather be a few seconds ahead than a few seconds behind. (Easy to say at that point.) Emily and Hilary--the girl who gave me a good throttling at 13.1 Boston a few weeks ago--entered the workout at the start of the third interval and immediately picked up the pace. For the next several repeats I found myself a good 20 meters behind Emily with Hilary equidistant between us, but fortunately there were plenty of other girls around to help me settle in and not get discouraged. I was quickly learning that the term "one minute recovery" was somewhat of an oxymoron, and as we progressed through the workout like clockwork my legs grew increasingly heavy.

By this point, the track was almost completely dark save for the ambient light spilling over from the adjacent soccer fields. (Apparently one of the richest institutions in the country does not have an endowment dedicated to lighting its outdoor track facilities, or at the very least its track alums are not as beneficent as its soccer alums.) Most of the other girls had departed for their cooldown, leaving just Emily, Hilary and myself with the always trusty Terry holding the stopwatch. Unlike the previous intervals, I actually led off for the first lap of this one and stuck close to the girls until they pulled away on the final straightaway. Hilary, less than two weeks removed from her goal marathon, was finished at this point--as were my legs. Had Emily suggested bagging the final repeat I would've struggled to find a reason to demur, but instead I found myself to agreeing to trade off leading each lap. Both of us were obviously laboring--myself clearly more so--but when your training partner is putting forth such a team effort there's really no justification for giving up. 

Overall, I'm pleased with completing the workout but a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to achieve the desired progression. My average was probably right on, but instead of overachieving on the first half it would've been nice to feel strong clicking off low- or sub-5:30s through the second half. Regardless, I have no doubt I'll reap tangible fitness gains from both the pace and volume of this workout.