Track run and a come from behind story

Lapping up the miles

Today’s run (track): 5.3 miles

It was helpful to have today’s workout already planned so I didn’t waste time determining where I’d go and what gear to wear. As expected, there was light rain falling when I got up. I decided to give it until 8:00 AM to go out, hoping that the wet weather would soon move off. By 8:15, the rain had turned to a light mist and I headed over to the high school track.

Although the temperature showed 54°, I felt chilly in my short sleeve shirt and shorts. I’d taken along the running raincoat that I bought to replace my dog-mangled jacket and wore it for the first two laps. Even with an unventilated top, I stayed fairly comfortable, but I was starting to sweat. The rain had completely stopped at that point, so I ditched the coat.

At the time I arrived, there was only one other person on the track. This was neither a walker nor runner. It was a pied piper with a rolling speaker that was blasting out an energizing mix of music. As I ran by this man, I saw a group of high school aged girls gathering around him at the top of the oval. I realized he was the track coach and practice was about to start.

It’s always tricky to do a track run when a practice is going on. I did my best to stay out of their way, keeping to the outside lanes as much as I could. I like to alternate running direction every six laps and, the first time I ran clockwise, I saw the girls practicing 200’s. While they took a cool down lap, I noticed the distribution of runners. There were a few at the front, a larger group in the middle and a couple of others running ten feet behind the middle group. Further behind was a final runner and she didn’t look very happy. I felt badly for her.

When I came around on my next lap, I saw the coach lining everyone up to do an all-out 400. Two runners quickly broke away, leaving the rest of the pack behind. I was surprised to see the straggler from the cool-down moving up to the front. She pulled ahead and it was like watching the Preakness again. This girl ended up finishing well ahead of the others and I was happy for her.

I lost count of my laps, but had 5.3 miles on my Garmin by the time I finished. I felt almost as strong at the end as I did at the start, making for three good runs this weekend. Not only that, I hit 15K steps both yesterday and today. I probably should start using a heart rate monitor again to help me differentiate between real and perceived effort. It may help me push harder if I see that I’m training in a lower zone than I realized.

Another win for the inner debate team

Today’s run (treadmill): 2.4 miles

Yesterday’s transition back to work was harder than I’d expected. The day was long and I was busy. We’d had workmen in the house all day on Monday so when I got home I needed to set up the TV, sound system and other electronics that had been moved for the work. That took up the rest of my night and as I laid out my gear I was hoping I’d have the energy for a morning run.

I really really didn’t feel like doing a workout when I got up and it was one of those times when I had to talk myself into running. I felt that if I didn’t run today I’d be giving myself permission to rest every time I didn’t feel like a 4:00 AM workout. Which is often the case. Once convinced, I started on the treadmill (I couldn’t deal with all the outdoor running gear today) and followed my normal routine of starting at a moderate pace and stepping up my speed over time. By the end I was running at around an 8:40 pace.

Once again, I was glad that I listened to my inner coach instead of my inner couch potato. I’m thinking that I may return to the roads for tomorrow’s run. It’s been well over a month since I’ve done an outdoor run at 4:00 AM.

Thanks coach

Over the past nine months I’ve put some serious time and energy towards running and fitness. It’s been a great experience and the benefits are clear. Although running is a form of voluntary suffering, I’d define it as a good kind of pain. Unlike my first attempt at serious running, I’ve been careful to minimize elements that de-motivate me (unrealistic expectations, unfavorable running conditions, unstructured monitoring of progress) and instead focus on those things that promote my interest. A big part of that is the guidance I’ve received from other, more experienced runners who have helped me set my goals and expectations.

Among those who have brought me along are my friends CK and CMcC who are both accomplished runners who have competed for decades and probably have over a dozen marathons between them. They are both low-key athletes who are long past the surface level fascination with the sport. They don’t need a GPS to tell them how far or how fast they’ve run. They know what works and what doesn’t, how to train and how to avoid injury. They are generous in their advice and I listen closely. I am fortunate to have a shortcut to progress. Another big source of valuable information is Adventure Girl, my work colleague and running partner. Although I have some years on her I am definitely the student when it comes to running. She’s helped me set expectations and has given me great encouragement over all these months. Her guidance on choosing running gear has been extremely valuable, as has the coaching she’s given to me as I prepared for my first races. AG will soon reduce the amount of time she’ll spend at the office as she starts her Master’s studies at Yale in a few months. The good news is that she’ll be part of my team for the next two years. That’s great because I still have lots of learning to do.

I have a new coach and he is very focused on my training program. He’s my 9 year old son and he’s taken it upon himself to design a daily training program for me. On his own he’s structured a schedule that includes tempo runs, cross training and distance runs. He tells me things like “Daddy, if you want, you can trade a distance run for a trail run next weekend.” When I come home from a long run and tell him I ran 4 miles he’ll say, “That’s very good, next time you can do 5.” He’s tough but fair. If I follow his program I’m sure I’ll be in great shape for my June 7th 8K. In addition, both my wife, who’s been active since I’ve known her, and my daughter, who is a natural athlete and runs with me occasionally, have been there for me throughout my return to running. They encourage my activity and indulge my interest. Most importantly, they always make sure I never leave the house for a run dressed too weird for public viewing.

This morning I ran 5.3 miles (Gmap verified) at 9:08 although my Garmin under-counted by almost 5%. I can accept the variance but it’s annoying that sometimes it over counts and other times it under-counts within a 5% range. I guess I’ll need to put it through the manual calibration process to get it as close as it was prior to the battery and shoe switch.

I’ve been monitoring Adventure Girl’s progress through Twitter and they are on the last cycle of the race (12 runners each running 3 legs). The last Tweet is from an hour ago when she was about to start her third and final run, 6.7 miles, just in time for rain. Sounds like the team is doing well and tracking to pace. 182 miles in 24 hours. That will be something to reflect on when they’re done. For now it’s probably just a lot of work.