"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Slipping on my hubris

I tried my first track workout in about a month Wednesday night. It wasn't terribly taxing, a seven-mile tempo at the American University track with Jake Marren, but it was significant that I hadn't run anything much faster than six minute pace for a long time, mainly because of the condition of the ground.
The track was mostly clear, by my mind was not when I arrived. I fancied myself a young WASPy Amerigo Vespucci in trying to navigate a shortcut to the American track from the Tenleytown Metro stop. Given my lack of familiarity with the area, this was ill advised. I ended up taking a street I thought to be parallel to Nebraska, which would take me to the east end of the campus, but this proved to be incorrect- the street was actually perpendicular. As I applied my geometry skills practically, I noticed my bag smelled rather sweet. Upon opening one of the end compartments, I found my travel shampoo bottle had opened and deposited its contents into the bag, ruining a plethora of matchboxes I can ganked from the eponymous restaurant the night before and failed to remove. Suffice to say, I was flustered when I finally showed up at the track.
After a warmup when we were joined by Dirk De Heer, Jake and I switched into road flats and started on our run. Most of the track was clear, except for some snow encroaching on the inside lane on one turn. Smatterings of ice decorated the surface, but the beauty of running laps on a track is how quickly you familiarize with the landscape and adapt. We planned to start off slow, but I naturally brought myself to ruin with a 5:31 second mile, after which I lost my composure and tried to recover from a speed I had not approached in a month, with five miles left. Around the second lap, two young man walked out to the track and up into the bleachers and smoked marijuana like cigarettes. I'm not sure why they chose the track for their doobie smoking, nor did it feel like we had spectators for the workout. Dirk had talked about hearing in his head the last song he heard on the radio, but after smelling that cheeba, I kept hearing Rick James' Mary Jane while I ran.
When I realized the remaining miles were destined for disaster, I cut off the tempo at three miles- 16:56- a shade under 5:39 pace. I immediately recovered for a mile and went back into a second three mile interval, hoping to maintain an even 5:40 pace. I did so, with some company from Chuck Kacsur in the second mile. I finished with an 81- the fastest lap of the 24 I ran harder, and ran 16:55, a second faster than the first, fresh interval.
The large piles of snow on the edges of the soccer field gave the track an odd feel, similar to the cinderblock walls on the insides of the turns on indoor tracks. It did not make me wistful for Pitt's indoor track, though.
After my cooldown, I was pretty lightheaded and ravenous. I demolished an apple and wandered to Dirk's car with the other guys. Stopping for snacks, Jake said I looked pretty "sad," mainly because the line at Subway was way too long and I couldn't seem to read the menu.
In one regard, I am disappointed that I let one mile ruin my workout, and that I let that mile happen because of my unbridled enthusiasm. I was feeling great through two miles, but I hadn't been running that fast for a while and my rust caught up with me as I got in over my head. I am happy, however, that I salvaged the workout and managed to run an even-paced second three miles with just a short recovery. It's a little step, and even though my mileage is "up there," for me, I feel like I am behind my usual fitness in Pittsburgh. I haven't done any other tempos and have done limited speedwork, but at the same time I am not racing the Spring Thaw this year, in fact I won't be racing until the Monument Ave 10k in late March, so I need not compare the two schedules. I am also building a sturdier base. Either that, or I'm old, fat and over the hill (See photo, right).

1 comment:

  1. chin up Banister. 2 x three mile tempo is a solid workout. Mileage now = speed next fall.