Writing and running in Austin, TX.
Last week my 3-phase training program (Base – Strength – Speed) officially rolled into the “Strength” phase. When this happened in Austin, it meant our coach finding some steepish hills, forcing us to run up and down them several times, and repeating “Looking good, ladies!” over and over to a group that was decidedly not looking good. In Aachen, it pretty much means business as usual. A major upshot of living in such a hilly place is that I feel roughly zero obligation to find any bigger hills than what I see on any given run.
But of course there’s always a counter-balance. With Rogue, the beginning of “Strength” phase also means the beginning of pace training. And it starts with one of my most dreaded workouts, the 2-mile Time Trial.
The Time Trial is exactly what it sounds like: 2 miles running as fast as you possibly can. The idea behind it is that it will test your fitness and speed after the Base-building phase. You get a time for those 2 miles, plug that time into a calculator, and then the calculator guesses how fast you can run various distances.
Here’s how fast I ran this morning:
Mile 1 – 8:41
Mile 2 – 8:50
Total – 17:31
And here’s how that’s supposed to play out at various distances (with commentary, of course).
|1 Mile||8:12||Okay, I could probably do that. But why in the world would I bother to run a 1-Mile race when the winners will be twice as fast and I’ll just end up wanting to vomit? (Okay, this is not unlike the marathon. But at least I get a lot more free food out of 26 miles.)|
|5K||28:28||Ha! I’m way better than that! 27:32. Just last August. Wait a minute…does this mean I’m getting slower???|
|10K||59:07||Whoa whoa whoa… I think we’re getting a little overly-ambitious here. That’s TEN MINUTES faster than my PR. I think this calculator is overestimating my pain tolerance.|
|12K||1:11:47||Err, what? This distance means nothing to me.|
|Half Marathon||2:11:31||Okay, now we’re talking fifteen-minute improvements. Does this calculator thingy really work? I mean seriously? For normal people?|
|Marathon||4:37:23||What wouldn’t I give to run a marathon this fast? It’s only 7:23 off my Holy Grail – a 4:30 marathon. (Why 4:30? I don’t know. I like round numbers?) Alas, right now, this time seems truly impossible.|
Note: I hope all you computer nerds are enjoying this early-90s table design. I even put a “cellpadding” attribute in this bad boy.
All-in-all, I feel pretty good about this morning’s results. After all, in lieu of track access, I ran it on a 1/4-mile stretch of asphalt that required dead-halt 180s at each end. I also ran it on my own, with no fellow runners to chase and no one to keep me company other than the early-morning dog-walkers who clearly thought I was insane. Frankly, I was shocked to turn in a time that was roughly comparable to my pre-Chicago Time Trials.
I felt good about it all the way up until I got the email from my Rogue coaches asking us to send in our times. Two weeks ago Coach Kara ran 12th at the USA cross-country championships. Her average pace for 8K was 5:36(!!!), and the names ahead of hers on the results are ones like “Shalane Flanagan”, “Magdalena Lewy Boulet”, “Blake Russell”, and “Kara Goucher”. Now no Rogue coach has ever made me feel unworthy in any way, BUT…
…what must they think of me??? When Kara sees my 17:31, does she feel like I feel when I read a really bad writing sample for a candidate at work? I have a paranoid vision of her banging her head on a desk, asking the running gods why they mock her so…
As you can see, jury’s out on the benefits of the Time Trial. On the one hand, it’s nice to know that I can run fast. (Err…ish.) On the other hand, it makes me wonder about my 4:54 in Chicago. Was that a heat-related breakdown, or did I just not push as hard as I could have? Is it even possible for me to really, truly get faster? Or will I never run a 4:30 marathon because I’m just not tough enough? Obviously I’ll never be as fast as Coach Kara, but being within 2 hours of what she could do in a full would be nice.
Oh well, at least I can cling to the fact that if I maintain my current pace, I’ll qualify for the Boston Marathon when I’m…70-74. Hmm, I guess we all need long-term goals.