Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mile Repeats in the Lightning

I was up much later than usual last night, which was a major bummer b/c we had 8-10 on the schedule for this morning and the group had voted to start at 5.  So when I got in my car to head home from my husband's godson's 8th birthday party, knowing I had a long drive and then a bunch of crap to do at home ahead of me, I just wanted to groan.  But I set the alarm for 4:28 by mistake (instead of 4:35, which is usually okay to start at 5) and finally got to bed around 11. 

I woke up and got my butt in gear and headed out.  As I was pulling onto the highway, I saw a huge flash of lightning.  It had stormed yesterday afternoon, but I'd thought it was finished.  The only reason our group runs are ever cancelled is for lightning or a major ice storm.  Well, at that point I was on my way, and since it's highway driving one exit, there was no way I was going to try to check my email.  I got there and it was pretty deserted, but since it was early and most people start at 5:15 instead of 5, I thought maybe it was normal.  But then it got later and a few more cars came but not many.  Turns out class had been cancelled, but Luis, one of the guys in my weekend group, was there, and we decided to live on the edge and run anyway.

We headed to the track to follow my weekend group schedule, which included 4 mile repeats.  And I realized I'd forgotten my watch.  I almost u-turned and gave up.  What's the point of speedwork if you can't make sure you're hitting the right pace?  Fortunately Luis had a watch that he hates (his garmin is in the shop), so he just gave it to me to wear.  That was what I needed.  I felt like I was struggling on the first one and Luis was way in front of me (or so it felt, really about 10 seconds by the end of the mile).  Then Rich, another weekend guy, showed up.  There were still occasional flashes of lightning but no real rain and a long pause before thunder.  We ran the second one and I again was at the back, behind both of them, and really felt like it had been a struggle.  I was quite surprised to see I was only 5 seconds slower than my first one, which was actually still a bit faster than I wanted.  Luis, who had wanted to go the pace of my first mile, had actually beat his first one by 5 seconds.  So basically, I was 5 seconds slower on the 2d repeat, and he was 5 seconds faster, making us about 20 seconds apart.

But since he actually wanted to run the pace I was hitting, the three of us ran the 3d repeat together.  I slowed a bit on the last lap and ended up 2 seconds slower than the 2d repeat, but still a couple seconds faster than goal. 

Then we all ran the 4th one together again, at least until the last lap.  During the 4th repeat, I had 2 recurring thoughts.  First, I was predicting my finish time and I guessed that my good news blog report today would be that I'd run 4 repeats all within a 10 second spread, but my bad news blog report would be that my first repeat was the fastest.  And my second thought was thinking, well, at most we'd have to run 1200 meters plus the cooldown in a downpour.  It had started raining, but it wasn't pouring, and actually, it didn't really start pouring until a couple minutes after I got in my car to go home. 

And even better, my first thought was also wrong!  I did not do all 4 in a 10 sec spread with number 1 being the fastest.  Instead, I did all 4 in an 11 sec spread (worse than planned) but number 4 was the fastest (optimal).  I wish I'd dialed it back a couple seconds more on the last mile so that I could have kept all my final times within 10 seconds, but if one of them had to be too fast, obviously it's best for it to have been the last one. 

What a surprise after thinking I couldn't hold my initial mile pace for 3 more, and thinking maybe I'd just quit to avoid getting struck by lightning.  There were a few major flashes that really lit up the sky.  I readily admit my choice was not the wisest and could have seriously compromised my safety, but I'm proud of myself for the times I posted and the fact that I got it down, when I easily could have gone back home and gone back to bed!  So shorter mileage than planned today, but solid! 

A nice first official trip to the track for marathon season.  And Luis is a great running buddy.  He was really happy I kept the pace so steady and even though we didn't really talk during the repeats (you're not supposed to), it was a companionable silence.  Nice day!  And I'm walking with my local bestie tonight, which will be fun!  I haven't gotten to see her in far too long. 

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