Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Potomac Valley Track Club All-Comers Meet

If I had to define myself as a runner, it would be a middle distance road racer. People still call me a marathoner, even though it has been 2 years since my last one. But I would say now that I'm a distance racer, focusing on everything from the 5k to the 10 mile. But now once a year I switch gears and try the track for a month. It is more to work on speed than anything. So, May 19 was my first mile race of the year. My PR is 5:51 (from June 2012). But I wasn't aiming to PR this time - just get in some more practice in the event. The last time I had a real track season with multiple races was 9th grade 2000-2001. It was indoor track, and my best 1500 was 7:25. I did not like track, and that was the last time I ran consistently until fall 2008. But I digress. Last year, my mile was at a mile only event, not a full out track meet. But the Potomac Valley Track Club has a series of all-comer meets that go all day and have all of the major track events. I was happy that the mile was early on. I got to watch the hurdlers first. My warm up was okay. Sarah said that it probably wouldn't be a PR day - it was kind of drizzly out and i was in the middle of training. I really just wanted to go under 6, but I also didn't sweat it out. My dad was in town, and we even had some bubbly the night before (yes, I was totally breaking one of my cardinal rules) - I was going to have fun. Because if you let running dictate your life all of the time, where is the fun? I wanted to have fun.
They called the milers out, and divided us into 3 heats. The first was 5-5:25- no thank you. The second was 5:25-6:00. I slid into this one, figuring that even if I was near the end, I'd rather hang on behind the fast people, than lead the heat and probably not go as fast. It was great watching the first heat. A couple of women ran under 5:20 , which was remarkable. Some of the girls in both heats were on one of the local racing teams, and it was intimidating hearing them talk about their workouts. It reminded me of high school, when we stood outside before a final exam and talked about our studying. Then we were called by the start and lined up. There were about 15 people in my heat (mixed gender) - I never had run with so many people on the track. The gun went off and we were off. It took a while to really get moving, as it was crowded! I actually felt boxed in at one point, but I thought that might actually be a good thing. It would keep me from going out too hard and blowing up. I think I went through the first lap in about 1:28 (and that is factoring the 8 meters extra to make it a full mile, not 1600m) and felt pretty good. It was at this point that I felt like I could move out a bit more. I think the second lap was about 2:54 or 2:56. At this point, I was in the dreaded third lap, but hanging on just fine and came through that in 4:24. I could hear someone behind me and she just took off. I was not dying but definitely didn't have any gears left. Nonetheless, I was really pleased as I saw the clock when I ran by.
5:51! I tied my PR. And for a first race in awhile, I was really pleased. It showed that if I lock in and have a few strong weeks of training, I can smash the PR and go under 5:50. Lots of exciting things happening, and this is just one of them!
After lap 1

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Time Trial and Back in Track Mode

After writing about the break from schedules, last week I got back into a running schedule. Once road racing ended, I am turning my focus to the track. I did this last year, and did one mile track race in June. This year, I've got 2 1 mile track races scheduled, 1 for May, 1 for June. My year-round focus is not the track - I just don't have that fast-twitch speed. I started training last week. And on Tuesday, I had my first time trial of the year.
It had been raining for a couple of days, and there was some wind, but we were going to do the workout anyways, which was going to include an 800m (2 lap) time trial. While I won't ever compete in an 800m race, the idea was that this would jump start my mile training. Last year, I did it in 2:46, and this year we were hoping for 2:40. Plus, it would in theory make the mile not seem as painful, at least not as fast. So we did our usual 2.5 mile warmup, and then threw in a few 200s, just to warm up the legs (both in 40 seconds) before rolling into the 800. I did have some nervousness about this, and I usually don't get nervous for track workouts. But this was going to be so hard and fast. Sarah told me to tuck in behind her, and we were off. Now, she is a 36 10k runner - this pace is not all out for her. Which is good, because she made it look effortless, and I could just hang on behind her. We went thought the first lap in 80 (1:20), right on pace, but I was doubting my ability to hang onto this. With 300m to go, it just felt so uncomfortable and hard. I ended up finishing in 2:44, all out of breath and that feeling of blood in my throat. You just don't get that feeling in the longer races, but this was a sprint. We took a few easy laps of VERY slow jogging, and then continued the workout with 3x400. These were descending: 88, 85, 84. The first one felt more like a trot after the 800, but by the second 2, I could feel the 800 from earlier. And it just kept raining. It felt as if it would let up every other interval, and then start raining again. A couple of easy laps, and then 4x200m. The first 3 were in 39, and then she said to go all out for the last one - 38! I had never run a 200 that fast. Last year, it took me a while to run 39, and this year, i was doing it consistently in week 2 of training. All promising. It poured during our 2.5 mile cooldown, and we were just soaked, muddy, drenched, you name it. But it was also exhilarating. I so rarely get to do the hard workouts with a partner, and this made it a lot of fun. During the easy parts, we chatted about grad school (we are in the same program - she just defended her dissertation), running, teaching, etc. The workout was a great confidence booster. Even though I didn't hit that 2:40, I'm still chipping away at it. These shorter distances require a different skill set, and I'm just in experienced there. But I am looking forward to getting in more practice at it!