Tuesday, August 6, 2013

At What Alter Do You Sacrifice?

O hey there Kezar Track! Here's a view I haven't seen in a while!

One of the most interesting group discussion activities I've participated in was called "At What Alter Do You Sacrifice?" My coworkers and I were divided into groups of four and asked to share & explain our answers to that question.

You can learn a LOT about someone that way. Some people said they sacrificed at the alter of Family or Children, because they felt like they would do or give up just about anything for their families or children if they had to, without a second thought. Some people said they sacrificed at the alter of Work, because they believed that the work we did (teaching) was some of the most important work there was to be done in terms of the future of society. Not surprisingly, many people interpreted this question as, "What is your top priority? What do you sacrifice the most for?"

I interpreted it a little differently. While I definitely try to put a fence around my running & cross training keep that time dedicated and set apart as much as possible, I can't honestly say it is my number one priority in life. BUT, I did feel like "The Track" made a fairly compelling answer to the original question.

The sacrifice part is fairly obvious, what with all the pain and agony and suffering and so forth. When I think about alters, though, I don't think about aimless torture. There's always a higher purpose to the sacrifice, something the sacrificer hopes to get in return, but isn't necessarily guaranteed. Part of me kind of likes the image of offering up my workout to the Marathon / Half Marathon / 10K / whatever Gods and crossing my fingers that they find it pleasing. If you make the Gods a kind of shitty, half-assed sacrifice, they are likely to curse you with side stitches and cramps and wall-hitting, while rewarding sweet, unblemished ones with negative splits and PRs.

Alter sacrifices also require faith. It's easy to give something up when you can see exactly how doing so will get you the thing you want. What's hard is making your offering when you just cannot see how in the name of all that is good and holy this is supposed to play out. A sacrifice made with certainty about what you're getting in return isn't an offering; it's a transaction. I've spent many an evening suffering on the track, trying to explain to myself in some way that the rational side of my brain will accept just why we're doing this and exactly what role nights like these play in inching us ever slightly closer to a goal. Very very often I fail and just have to tell it, "Look, it works. I don't totally get why or how and yes I know this is miserable and no I don't really see right now how we're going to get from huffing and puffing our way through 1200's to a [insert goal time][insert race distance], but I promise you it will happen. Have some faith already."

(I also want to point out that this is not the first time in my life I have made the "running is my church" metaphor. I had a whole canon of Saints & everything.)

* * *

Once upon a time (like, four months ago) there was Track Tuesday, and if you glanced through my training plans I think you would probably see I was more consistent about those workouts than any other day of the week. (It's the alliteration, probably. 'Tempo Friday' and 'Long Run Sunday' just don't roll off the tongue quite as nicely.) When I can motivate myself to do nothing else, I can almost always get myself out the door and in the car and headed to Kezar Stadium.

I. Love. The track.

I love how it smells, and being around other runners, and the nice squishy surface, and the complete and utter lack of dogs / cars / bikes / traffic lights / clueless pedestrians / etc. When normal girls have tried explaining to me what they enjoy about a spa day or a nice massage, I'm like, "Ah, I understand. The spa is your track. A good massage is your interval workout."

(Also can I just point out, track workouts are free.)

Maybe this helps you understand the sheer joy this past Tuesday evening of lacing up my flats and hopping in the car.

Auto Lap! I got to use auto lap!!

I mentioned last week that I'm trying to kinda-sorta at least attempt following my actual training plan to the extent that I can, without doing anything stupid. I cut my Friday tempo run short 2.5 miles in because of some achey-ness in my hip (soooo not risking it) & then took the weekend completely off except for some stretching & rolling. By Monday it was feeling good again, so I decided to use my first Track Tuesday since April to try to figure out where my speed was at & set some kind of baseline to work from going forward.

In theory I was supposed to do:

  • 1 mile warm-up
  • 7 drills & 3 strides
  • 2 x (5:00 @ 5K Pace / 3:00 jog)
  • 1 mile cool-down

During my warm-up mile I tried to really focus on glutes & hamstrings. The cool part of this is that it results in a 7:46 warm-up (I seriously cannot run slower than that while still engaging all the posterior stuff the way I'm supposed to). The sucky part is that it doesn't feel like a warm-up. Stalking your watch & desperately willing the tenths of miles to tick off a bit faster is not a good sign during warm-up.

After that, I decided to just do some running at what felt like 5K effort, continuing to Run With The ButtTM, and see what length of intervals felt like they wouldn't kill me reasonable.

I quickly came to two realizations:

1) Effort-o-meter is still hella busted. As much as I would like to believe that 6:05-6:10 is my 5K pace, it is not. Normally I can lock in to 6:40-6:50 pretty easily but I suppose that is a skill one loses with lack of practice.

2) 5 minutes was a bit too ambitious, even after slowing down a bit. I decided that 400s with 200m recoveries were sounding MUCH more appealing. At first I thought I would do 4-5 of these but during the third one I started getting the yellow flag from the hip, and these days the hip is The Decider.

So I do *have* some speed, apparently, but I really need to do some work around finding 5K pace again & seeing how long I can realistically hold it in terms of intervals. I don't want to ever push the mileage past what feels good for my hip, but I think the next time I'm out there I'll try to dial the speed back a little & see if I can do a few 800's at that pace.


  1. I am glad that someone loves the track. I don't hate it, but it isn't my favorite either. I get giddy about cross country races. I just realized this fall will be my first cross country race in over two years. I am freaking excited. On another note, I am glad you are not pushing yourself and risking undoing the work you have put into your rehab.

  2. Interesting post. You are right that it seems like everyone sacrifices something to achieve something. And while I do think that training for something is a sacrifice, I mainly think it's because of time spent. The times saying to staying out late, and just staying dedicated to running. I think the actual process of running is almost always enjoyable to me since I enjoy the process and feeling of running, so I don't view this as a sacrifice at all.

  3. From the other side of the equation, recently, my church asked all its members to write short daily devotional messages and bound them into a book for everyone to use over the summer. I wrote mine about running and the parallels between running and faith. So this post made me smile!!