"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

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The "P" word

Nothing pisses me off quite as much as the fact that the George Mason High School track, less than a half mile from my front door, is not open to the public. Before, it didn't confront me none, because compared to 13.1 and 26.2 miles, 400 meters seemed trivially short. Now that I have at least two track meets on the horizon, and I generally want to be faster, it's time I used a track.
I have that great Greenwich mile a half mile from my apartment the other direction, but it's on the road and these days I like to have more frequent feedback on splits.

Without the use of GMHS's track, I can use Bethesda-Chevy Chase (Wednesdays only for God's sake), Washington-Lee (convenient to the metro and well-lit, though crowded and I never seem to run well or consistently there), or George Marshall High School in McLean, about 1.8 miles away from home. It looks like it will be George Marshall for a lot of these workouts...

Friday I did a workout that I am loathe to call by its common name, thanks to a creepy ATP-less coach in Pittsburgh who loved to use it. Steve suggested I try them again, and I am trying to figure out some alternative terminology to describe it. "Finishing hard" seems appropriate, but describes most of my distance runs, these "p-word" runs involve a significantly harder effort at the end. Anyway, I started out with a five-mile loop from my office around the Lincoln Memorial and back to the mall near the Capitol, where I did the second thing I didn't care much for- running on the mall. It's usually too crowded with walkers to try to accomplish a workout, but the area between 4th and 7th streets, dubbed Henry Park, is just a little bit short of a half mile. I got there and launched into two hard miles, which I hit in 5:15 and 5:18, the second mile being exactly on pace with the first but necessitating maneuvering around two NPS police cars. The gravel path was pretty sloppy after a few days of melting snow and ice, so my footing wasn't great, but I was really happy with the work I did. 10:33 doesn't seem like much in comparison, but it was better than running equivalents of 5:09 and 5:14 on solid ground two days before with about four minutes rest.
Saturday I slept in through the freezing drizzle and eventually went out for an easy 9+ miles, out and back on the W&OD toward Vienna. It was mindless.

Sunday I tried my first long distance double, to give me a mental and physical break from long runs every weekend. I started out with a five mile run in the morning, an extended Idylwood Filler, for 6:15 pace. After a nap, I tried to alter my Scott's Run loop, and did 11.5 miles at 6:40 pace. I enjoy that loop a lot.

Monday I headed to the one nearby open track for some 400s, after a five mile warmup. George Marshall's lit track was home to youth lacrosse practice, with parents littering the track. All of those with whom I spoke complied gladly when I asked then to clear the first lane. I started out fast- 72 low, and tried to remind myself to keep it under control. two 74s later, I felt like I had a handle on it. I did another 72 and four 73s then made a quick bathroom break, but noticed little kids starting to meander into lane one. By the time I was 3/4 around a 72, four adults decided to stand in both lane one and two, frustrating me to to no end. Near the finish line, another couple just stood there, but on the outside of lane one, so I squeezed in front of them, hoping they'd get the picture. I just wanted to hold it for one more 400, and I managed to, despite another detour around the idiots in lanes one and two. I finished up with two 35 second 200s, thanked the people who moved for me and stayed out of my way, and headed back. I did the 400s in trainers with 200 m rest, and it was pretty hard. As I have written a lot, it has been a long time, about two years, since I have focused on my turnover, and it's going to take a while to make this second nature to me. Knowing that I have to run my fastest 400 12.5 times to even match my PR is sobering, but I just have to keep my focus on regaining this basic speed and comfort. The nice long warmup spared my calves any stress, though my 200 m jog might have been too little, at least toward the end of the workout. I also ran it in trainers, which I think was the right move- I didn't want to carry flats or even spikes five miles to the track and two miles home.
Hard work...

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