Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tempo Running

I can’t believe it, but according to my training log, my last up-tempo run was nearly a month ago. Of course I’ve run at least one 5k in-between which probably counts for something. I don’t really like tempo runs, my confidence level is low and I get about as nervous about running these as I do before a race. This morning was no different.

Since I had schedule a 6 mile tempo run, I decided to do this one on the street instead of the track. Running 25 laps around a 400m track at a constant pace just didn’t sound all that appealing this morning. So, instead of getting in my car, I walk over to the starting point for most of my loop runs, guzzling water as I walked down the hill.

As I started the warm-up, the demons in my head came out to play; questioning my sanity and letting me know that I couldn’t possible get warmed up and maintain any pace below 8:00/mi for more than a mile or so.

After 1.2 miles of slow jogging, sweat had already started dripping from the brim of my hat. After all, it is still August in central Arizona and it’s just going to be hot at 5:00 AM. I walked around a bit and adjusted my Garmin trying to screw on enough courage to start. I finally ran out of excuse why I shouldn’t run and took off.

Looking down at my Garmin after the first ¼ mile I noted that my average pace was a hair under 6:30. Of crap, I can’t keep up this pace for very long. It’s way faster than my best 5k pace. I backed off the pace and finally settled into something closer to 7:50. Completed the first mile in 7:38 (due to the fast start) and was feeling pretty good. That feeling wouldn't last long.

Shortly after starting the 2nd mile, my left glut acted up … now what’s wrong? The voices in my head again started up the usual chorus .. “you’re too old”, “no way you’ll make it around 6 miles”, “give up now, it’s still a short walk home”, yada, yada, yada .. you know the story line. Interestingly, what kept me going this morning was you. I just wasn’t going to write in this blog that I failed to complete a simple tempo run; but I needed something to distract me and get my mind off failure.

My karma must have been very strong this morning because within seconds, a woman exited a side street 200m in front of me and proceed to run in the same direction as I was moving. Now I had someone to chase. She wasn’t running all that fast and I was gaining on her quickly, but she turned at the next major street before I could catch up with her. And then, as if this had been choreographed, another turned onto the same street and took the 1st person's place; only the 2nd woman was running much much faster. Based on my slow closure rate, I’d say she was running under an 8:00/mi pace.

I checked my Garmin, my lap pace was holding around 7:50 and the voices had gone back to sleep. It was just me and the other runner. I NEVER see people out running at this time of the morning, so this was a real treat. It probably took 4 or 5 minutes to catch up with her. I know women don’t enjoy strange guys coming up from behind, so as soon as got within 20 feet of her, I called out and let her know that I’d pass on the right. We exchanged pleasantries as I went slowly by her (amazing how fast some people are .. .she didn’t look like she was pushing it at all) and nowI had additional motivation to keep going and not get caught (yes, my ego was in full control). This took me through 3 miles, at which point, I started up a slight ½ mile incline and onto mile 4. I had to push a little harder to keep the pace up, but did OK. Mile 5 included a short semi-steep hill, but I had already projected myself onto the 6th mile, so I didn’t really notice it.

Mile 6 was like any other last mile of a run; I needed to pick up speed, but I had a huge semi pull out in-front of me just as I started to accelerate. The truck pulled out a safe distance in front of me and saw me all the way; unfortunately, he was moving very slow and forced me to slow down and run around the back side of the truck. I probably lost 2 or 3 seconds in the process. As soon as I cleared the truck, it was smooth sailing to the finish.

Mile Splits: 7:38, 7:51, 7:50, 7:55, 7:48, 7:43

Thanks for your help this morning. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Training for the week:

Mon: Rest
Tue: 9.0 miles, easy, 9:06/mi pace
Wed: 8.0 miles, easy, 8:31/mi pace
Thr: 8.2 miles, 6.0 mile tempo, 7:48/mi pace + WU/CD


Mike said...

I guess chasing beats being chased. I'm thinking about the nut-job who was after you the other day. That's a mighty long tempo run, you might do them more often (or view them with less trepidation) if you did some in the 20-40 minute range. 20 minutes can still give you a good stimulus without wearing you out.

This heat must break soon...right?

DawnB said...

Outstanding!!!geat run. I'm hoping that someday I'm going to start a tempo run and finish it completly. When I first started running it was much easier, but now I find it hard to pick up that kind of pace unless I'm in a race.

For a tempo that long though I was surprise your were thinking of going to the track. Have you done tempo's on the track previously?. What would be the reason for doing it on the track I would like to know.

You're going to kick butt in that 10K you are traing for.

Michele said...

Wow!!! That is one awesome run!
Love the ego, I am the same way. I have also gotten through many a run knowing that I had to post something about it and hate to report failure! I have but I don't like it.

BTW, I tried to answer all your questions in my post today. Hope I cleared things up for you.

Thanks for all your comments and support.

Feminist Runner said...

Well done, Phil! And holy crap about the minivan incident. I am relieved you are recovering all right.

I am not a big fan of tempo runs myself, but I certainly can't imagine doing them on the track! I can't count that high.

Keep up the good work.