Monday, August 1, 2011

Tough tempos can bring out the best

So, my running coach in DC, Sarah, wrote to me the other day to ask how my Saturday tempo runs have been going in Santa Cruz. As I told her, it took a few weeks for them to actually go well! As I transitioned to the hills, it took a while to take to the hills with any semblance of speed. The more important objective was to just keep going. But, as things clicked, it finally became reasonable to take on the Saturday tempos with a bit more aggression, as if I were on the East Coast. So, 2 Saturdays ago, I had a great tempo run: 2 mile w/u, 5 mile tempo starting @7:15/mile, 2 mile c/d. I averaged 7:00 for 5.2 miles! And the weather cooperated well, and it just felt great. I was so pleased, and it definitely was a confidence booster. And those are the good runs - the runs that you can reflect on after, be proud of, and get you excited for upcoming races and training.
I had been strutting around with that one, and had had a good track workout too last week. Workout days are often my favorite running days (and days in life, period) - I think it is the challenge posed, and the ability to push through and overcome it. Anyways, this past Saturday, the challenge was an 11 mile hilly run with 10 x 90 second bursts of speed. Perfect weather: misty, 58 degrees - I was in heaven. And my bursts of speed didn't feel like I was dying: my legs were just motoring and I was able to go with it. I had about 2 miles ago, with a 600 foot climb to get to the top of campus. I was waiting for the light to change, and there was a cyclist on the opposite side of the road. I said "I don't know how you do it, biking here."
Cyclist: "Well, I am actually a runner, and this is hard, I am just injured right now. Which way are you going?"
I pointed, and she asked if we wanted to do the climb together.
Inner thoughts: "What?! I can't run alongside a cyclist! This is going to be crazy!"
But..I said "Yes!"
And we climbed our way up, amlbing and gabbing along the way. She has done a dozen marathons, and we had a great chat. I felt like I was dying - it was so steep to begin with, I was trying to chat, and oh yes, I am trying to keep up with someone on wheels.
Cyclist "You're doing so great, this is incredible!"
And you know what? While part of me was so tired, the other part of me was absolutely exhilarated. It was very tough work, but making it through also felt like a major triumph. It was a very unexpected way to finish the run, but completely worth it!
Again, I think tempo runs are one of the hardest parts of training, but definitely can help yield great results!

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