Mile repeats. I remember the first time I did the workout-- 3 x 1- and decided they are in the most cruel and unusual sweet spot between the hard, fast intensity of short workouts and controlled, eternal, grueling challenge of long workouts. I still decide that after every mile repeats session.
‘Imma gonna make you hurt’, I told him via text.
‘I ain’t scared’, he texted back.
Though he admitted later to some apprehension leading up to it, and I admitted also to not being sure how to pace him. Which means we led into the first interval way too fast. I tend to do that.
When we were still almost sub-6 at the end of the first lap, I held back. But Clark was coming off a two day reprieve from running (the days he had his kids, plus work, etc), so his legs were fresh. I had done 12 on Monday, easy 5 on Tuesday and another easy 6 on Wednesday. I had miles, but not hard miles and the legs were pretty okay with dancing to the tune of 6:xx instead of 8s, 9s, and 10s.
Interval 1: 6:45. Uhhh. My tentative goal had been 7:10. Well, readjust for sure! However, I told Clark we would dial it back for the second interval. AND we were doing the full 800m, 2 lap recoveries at a very leisurely 11-14 minute pace of alternating walking with jogging, conversational and relaxed.
It was a beautiful night on the local high school track, deserted except for the two of us. Windy, for sure, but the wind was the warmest we’ve had in awhile. At 65 degrees, I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and shorts and I felt freshly-freed from the mother of all winters, having been in tights and long sleeves since November. During our workout, the sun sank into oblivion and darkness closed around us like a comforting blanket. The clouds shrank back onto the horizon and a clear sky sprinkled with stars hung over us. During the recovery, our breaths and heart rates returned to a near normal state as we enjoyed the lull, the shared company, the fellowship of running. I sighed contentedly, my face raised to the sky. I love the night… I love the dark, serene tranquility of a world hypnotized into silence by twilight’s come-hither glance. And I love the wind in my face. More so during the recovery jogs than when I am heading into the wall of wind on the backstretch of Lap 3, but still… it was a good night to be alive. My legs felt responsive and bouncy, my body alert, taut, humming with the rushing blood of intense effort. I love running. I love life.
And then my zest for life and running got slightly dampened as we headed into the second mile (Well, my 3rd. I had gone to the track early and done over two miles of warmup and one interval at 6:36 before Clark had arrived because, well… marathon training. I need the miles and the longer workouts.). I dialed it back a little for this one, knowing that if we blew up completely on the first two, the last one would be especially painful. And I’d promised Clark I wouldn’t kill him. Not that he was scared, of course...
Still, 6:59. Whoaaaa. To say I was surprised and pleased was an understatement. Yes, Clark was hurting a little on the final lap. But he held it, kept up and didn’t lag or complain. This dude is no slacker.
We took our time on the recovery for this one. Then it was back to the final round.
The last one tends to be the easiest, IF you have enough left. But still, you can offer freely what’s left in the tank and knowing it’s your last is mentally a relief. Obviously tonight that was the case. Clark was breathing raggedly by the second lap, but he was holding his own. I held steady for the 3rd lap, then pushed it on the last and final lap. We thundered into the final stretch, legs and lungs burning…
Sure, we were bent over gasping with our hands on our knees for a few seconds before weakly high-fiving, but dang. That was a quality speed workout. And exceeding my expectations… I’d run 4 x 1 mile intervals at an average of 6:43 pace, and Clark ran 3 x 1 at an average of 6:45 pace. I was pretty proud. For a first time mile-repeat runner, and someone who’s only been training for a few months, a 3 x 1 at sub-7 is SOLID. His strength is definitely the short-to-medium distances… he is already at my paces for intervals. But I am the endurance girl; I can go all day (and night), baby!
We dropped to a bench near the track for a few minutes, letting our shredded muscles catch up a little, soaking in the solitude and beauty of a spring night. Then we parted ways, and it was good, because we were now faster and stronger than when we’d arrived.
It’s Monster Month. I’m a little tired and a lot hungry… both phenomenon striking at weird times. I can have no appetite and then suddenly an hour later be ravenous. I can be not-tired for awhile after a workout, rejuvenated, even… then fall into a thick fog of fatigue. My body is taking on the lean, hungry look of marathoning. A couple pounds down. I’m not lifting much, if it all, just some light toning and strengthening. Core work a couple times a week. But my legs are being chiseled and pummeled. My quads are hard, my calves snug in skinny jeans. Sitting on the couch after hard workouts or long runs, I can feel and see muscle fibers twitch and hum and gyrate in their little recovery dance.
Oh, and I need new shoes AGAIN and my pile of running laundry never ends.
Yep, it’s marathon training.
I’ve averaging 50 miles a week, and this week I will hit 60 if all miles go as planned. The speedwork is changing from the shorter, faster stuff to 6 x 1 mile or 4 x 1.5 mile repeats and the upcoming 2 x 2 mile, 3 x 2 mile, and 2 x 3. Tempos are around 7:40-8:00. I ran 18 last Sunday-- 8 at MP + 20 seconds and the remaining 10 with Clark at 9:xx. Mid-distance runs, like those 10/10 back-to-backs on Saturday and Sunday on the inbetween “easy” weeks are averaging in the 8:teens or faster. Some days it feels comfortable, some days it’s a struggle. Just more realities of marathon training.
I am enjoying this marathon training cycle more than probably any so far. The company of an RB, obviously, and the fact that we are training for the same destination race. But I have become a little looser with my grasp, a little more okay with the journey. I’m not a slave to the plan, even if it is the somewhat rigorous Hansons Marathon Method… it’s only a doable method for me if I can DO it, and I can only fit it into my sometimes crazy life if I’m able to adjust. As long as the miles are at or near what I’m supposed to be, the speedwork and long run distances are according to plan, and I get that cumulative fatigue stuff at the end of the week, I tweak whenever I need to. Life’s too short and running’s too fun to be needlessly stressed out by it.
Buffalo is in 7 weeks. Which means I have about 5 weeks before the taper. I’m not nervous yet. Historically, I peak too early when I do the longer 16-18 week plans, so I’m hoping this shorter, but just as intense, training will have me ready at the right time without ending into over-trained, burned-out territory. I feel strong right now. Strong and happy with running.
The Plan never wavers. Get that 3:38 PR and BQ down to a more comfortable 3:30-3:34. Because we all know that short of a miracle, that 1 minute and 52 seconds I got for my Wineglass BQ is not enough to get in. And if Buffalo isn’t the golden ticket for me, I have Erie (possibly) and Wineglass (definitely) to train for in the fall. Last minute chance for 2019 at Erie and a let’s-just-start-over look at 2020 at Wineglass.
Still chasing it, still wanting it. Just over here putting in the work. Goin’ hard, but at the same time, ‘takin it easy’ as the Eagles recommend. Trying to not let the sound of (my) own wheels make me crazy…