It has been a little over a month since my last post and I’ve joined a track workout group, run 4 races, and I’m still in good spirits.
I joined an 11 week ladies track group lead by Falls Road Running. We meet every wednesday night and pound out crazy track workouts at the direction of Coach Amy and Coach Karen. Mostly I’ve been with Coach Amy. Because somehow or another I banged out a 7:15 mile time trial on the first night. They used this base time to separate us into groups. I am a mango (7:30 min/mi and faster). Which means I somehow squeezed my happy ass into the group with all the fast girls.
Since joining I have endured two rather tough workouts.
The first - 12×400′s (target pace 1:50) w 60 sec recovery
It was a difficult workout. I don’t think I’ve ever done a 12×400 workout in my life, but I seemed to consistently come in below target pace. Again, a hard workout, but not unbearable.
I ran two races the following weekend.
20 April 2013 – Sole of the City 10K – 53:09 (8:34 pace)
That’s another lovely PR. I actually really like this race. I did it last year, and it was just as emotional. All the thoughts of my Dad came back during the national anthem, and on top of that everyone had Boston on their mind. Race organizers passed out blue and yellow ribbons for all racers to wear. They also asked folks to dress in blue and yellow.
The following day I ran a last minute race to raise money for families of the Boston Marathon victims. Falls Road puts on a Mulligan Metric Marathon. They added a Metric Half with all registration fees being donated. I paced Becky most of the race running the first half at 10 min pace and the second half closer to 9′s. I ran with her until about the last 2 miles. She’s hilarious, and does surprisingly well when she doesn’t know what pace she’s running. “Don’t tell me what we’re doing. I don’t want to know!”
21 April 2013 – Mulligan Metric Half Marathon – 1:17:03 (9:27 pace)
Then track night rolled around again…
3 sets: 2×800′s (target pace 3:40) w 90 sec recovery, 2×200′s (hard effort) w 200m recovery jog
This second workout made me really consider whether or not I should be a mango. I actually had a conversation with Amy because I felt like ass the entire workout. It went something like this…
Tara: So, this is SUPPOSED to be hard, right?
Amy: Yes. Basically you should want to curse at me when this workout is finished.
Tara: Ok, so then I’m probably right on target then. (I kind of wanted to swear at her. and I kind of hated her because this was so freaking difficult. I felt like an asthmatic cripple hobbling around the track.)
Amy: What we’re doing is essentially destroying your muscles at the cellular level. It’s like when you get sick and your body has to fix the illness and make you stronger. That’s what we’re doing to your muscles.
Tara: Ah I see. (I still kind of hate you, but at least now I understand why my legs feel like they’re going to fall off.)
The following Saturday I ran a 5K for work. It felt pretty bad. I don’t know if it was the heat or poor pre-race eating or what, but those 26 minutes weren’t great.
27 April 2013 – AFCEA Central MD 5K – 26:20 (8:30 pace)
Despite how I felt, I managed to be the first one from my team to finish. And (thank god for small races) earned a 4th place finish in my age group; it was a nice confidence boost. It was also nice to see my coworkers participate.
I had a nice 11 mile run the following day to make myself feel more like… myself. I hit my regular pace just fine. So, who knows, maybe I don’t do as well at shorter distances.
Either way, I couldn’t help but feel like my poor showing at AFCEA was due to my legs still being tired from track night. So knowing I was running a half on Sunday, I decided to skip track night this past wednesday. I felt really guilty about it, but I also really wanted to break 2 hours. No way I was going to chance missing my goal.
Thursday I set out to do a good easy recovery run of about 4.5 miles. I kind of failed as my splits were all 9 min miles, which was my target HM goal pace at the time. I again freaked out a little and then said F it. What’s going to happen, is going to happen.
Once I stopped worrying… I not only PR’d, I not only met my goal, but I beat it by almost 7 minutes.
5 May 2013 – Frederick Half Marathon – 1:53:26 (8:40 pace)
The amazing thing is that running this race felt quite good… the whole time. Sure my legs were tired. That’s the longest I’ve held a sub 9 min pace. At about mile 2.5 I found myself with the 1:55 pacers (Marci and Mike were awesome). Not because I intended to, it just sort of happened and their pace felt relatively comfortable so I stuck with them. I stayed with the group until mile 12. My legs still felt pretty good so I went ahead of the group toward the finish.
Frederick was a pretty nice course. It went through a lot of really pretty residential areas and was rolling but still relatively flat. I found it easier than DC (some of the hills in the second half of DC are a little cray), but harder (my calves are sore) because of my faster pace.
As soon as I saw the clock as I approached the finish I wanted to take back all the thoughts of hate I had for Coach Amy last week. All that pain and feeling horrible was doing something great for my running. Looking at these times, I have a hard time sustaining a significantly faster pace even if the distance is shorter, but it’s still improving my paces overall short and long distances. I’m hitting times and paces I wouldn’t have dreamed of this time last year.
So I will go back to track practice on wednesday ready for pain. Ready because I know it is good for me. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn to understand what is an adequate level of pain during a race. I have the feeling that I could have worked harder at Frederick, I’m just afraid of gassing out before the finish. I think that’s something I really need to learn and I’m only going to learn through enduring more pain.
Bring it on Coach Amy. My legs may be killing me and I may wine like a sissy girl, but deep down I know it will pay off, so do your worst. (Ok, don’t do your WORST, but please feel free to punish me enough to make me a better runner.)