Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Oh speed work, I've missed you so!

After months & months of no real speed work, it's time to get back to pushing myself at the track. I knew that with Ironman training, I would see my speed drop but I don't think I truly appreciated just how slow I was going to get. Don't get me wrong, it was all worth it and for my first Ironman, it was expected.

Getting back to the track this week felt awesome. When I arrived, it was empty...not a soul in sight. I've never minded doing track workouts on my own as I had to get used to it due to my crazy work schedule. For my first true track workout, I definitely thought being alone would be for the best. I didn't want to embarrass myself!

I started my warm-up and even though I've run since IMTX, my legs felt far heavier than they had previously. Hmm, not a good sign. I decided it was just the negative talk in my head and to ignore it. My day hadn't gone as planned and so I was forced to do my workout in the evening when it was nice & muggy! I knew I should be realistic w/ my expectations. I was only going to be doing 400's and there was no need to get crazy.

After a nice, long and very sweaty warm-up, I grabbed some much needed agua and got my trusty Garmin ready for the workout. 4x400 is all I had to do. I decided that I shouldn't expect much more than a 9:00 - 9:30min/mile pace given I haven't been running hard (or fast) in quite some time. That last 100yds of IMTX was at a whopping 10min/mile pace! My 1st 400 should be slow. I decided to just do what my body felt and not look at my watch. I remembered a night at the track well over a year ago. I was doing mile repeats and I was the only athlete who showed up. Coach Bill was there with me and John Laskowski was there as well (ok, so one other athlete but this is when I was part of the run focused group and John was part of the big, bad tri group). I would constantly look at my watch. Bill told me on my last loop not to look. And guess what? I went faster when I didn't look. Bill's advice paid off again as my first 400 was at an 8:40min/mile pace. Wow. That's wasn't too shabby. I got some water, stretched my leg out a bit and got ready for #2. 8:40min/mile pace. This not looking at the watch thing is pretty cool. #3 is always my repeat where I slow down regardless of what the workout is. Something about #3 isn't my friend. What can I say, I've never been a fan of odd numbers. 8:08min/mile. What was crazy about this was that I didn't feel like I went faster than #1 & #2, my HR didn't spike and I wasn't winded. I had focused on my kick and pumping my arms. Note to self: pump arms all the time! I was feeling good but noticed my legs were feeling heavier than normal. I only had #4 left and I could cool down. I focused on my foot strikes and tried to make sure I was in a good rhythm. As I hit the end of the final 400, I consulted my Garmin to learn I went 8:40min/mile again! Loving the consistency!

A great track workout! The last time I hit those types of times, the temperature was a bit more comfortable and I wasn't post-Ironman. I had far lower expectations of myself than I should've. What does this tell me? Trust yourself. Trust your abilities. Trust your gut. I always tell myself (and anyone who will listen) that I'm a crappy runner. That I'm too heavy to be a good runner. That I wasn't made for running. Enough already! I'm not saying the times above are stellar but at the same time, they're nothing to be ashamed of. It's time to stop selling myself short on the run. It's time to make myself a little uncomfortable during workouts and really push myself. I'll never know what I can achieve until I give myself a nice push!

Getting back to a "normal" training schedule has been great. I spent part of my lunch hour working on plotting out the rest of my race season and making tweaks to my goals for each race. Even though Coach K is taking a break from coaching (I miss you Coach K), I'm still excited for my upcoming races and know that I'm going to do well! The name of the game is to have fun and not sell myself short.

With that, I'm off to get some shut eye as I have an early swim planned tomorrow. I'm also looking forward to being off on Friday and doing my long run on the IMTX course. I know this sounds completely crazy but I spent so much time out there the past few months, I kind of view it as a friend I haven't seen in awhile. Yes, I've gone out there to walk Leia but this will be different. I really am a dork huh?!?

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