By Tuesday afternoon, though, I didn't feel at all like I'd just had three days of rest. (Which, I guess technically I didn't, since I didn't sleep much Sunday night, did an hour bike ride that afternoon & 1.5 hours of karate that night, then got up early Tuesday morning for strength work.) How I was going to pull off a monster of a 10 mile track workout was not clear to me, but my rule in all things running (barring actual injury) is to at least try, so I tried, and wonder of wonders it was not awful. (Hard, yes. Amateur-ish-ly executed, yes. But not awful.) As noted, my Wednesday & Thursday "easy" runs were not easy. Wednesday in particular was quite rough. But I got them done.
On Friday, I had a tempo run scheduled that was supposed to go:
- 2 miles warm-up
- 3 miles @ 7:30/mile
- 5:00 jog
- 10 x 100m sprint w/ 0:30 jog breaks
- 1.5 cool down
Any time I have to do short sprint intervals like this, I go to the track, because I just do not feel safe running all-out on concrete around pedestrians. Traffic lights don't lend themselves too well to this sort of thing, either. BUT, Friday afternoon, I left work late, which meant that if I'd gone to the track, I wouldn't have gotten back home until around 7pm, and in my neighborhood on a Friday night, looking for parking at 7pm can mean a good half hour driving around looking for a spot within walking distance of home. So I
regrettably decided to ditch the 100m's, run around 8 miles starting at home, & see whether at some point in there it felt like 7:30's were in the cards. (As of 5pm, it absolutely did not.)
It was pretty darn hot out for San Francisco (81-82ish when I started, I think), so between that, the insane afternoon headwind out of the west, & the fact that my usual route is a gradual-but-relentless uphill climb for the first three miles, I was not moving fast nor feeling good. (I think my first mile was in the 9:20 range.) Running 2:00/mile faster? HAHAHAHAHAHA.
By the time I was approaching 2.5 miles I'd warmed up enough that I was running in the ~8:30 range, but it still wasn't feeling easy & I couldn't imagine cranking it down by a full minute per mile. Since I was approaching the end of the relentless uphill & the rule is to at least try, though, I figured I'd give it just a *little* more gas without going crazy, try to to gradually speed up some, & just see what happened pace wise. If I could crank out some 7:30's, great; if not, then I'd just run 3 miles at what I thought 7:30 effort should feel like, & that would have to be good enough.
And once again, wonder of wonders, I found a little touch of speed. I decided I wouldn't look at my watch until I felt like I'd settled into a good HM / LT-type effort, and after about 3 minutes or so I kind of went, "This feels about right, maybe 7 out of 10." And then I nearly choked when I looked at my watch & saw I was running ~7:10 pace (ie, 10K pace).
Yes, I was running at a comfortably hard effort, but that usually puts me in the 7:20-7:40 range, NOT 7:10. I let myself slow down juuuuuust a tad (knowing the goal was to do three of these), but still ended up with a 7:20 split for that first mile. In the second & third ones, I just tried to maintain the same comfortably hard level of effort & keep my pace above 7:15ish (because I really cannot make a case for running faster than that on a tempo run).
In the end, this happened:
The downside, alas, was some pain in my right hip and some lingering soreness in my quads & right foot, which I'll be honest, has me a little freaked out for my 18 miler / SF Half on Sunday. (Hence my decision not to run on Saturday & instead spend it rolling & stretching.) But on the upside, it's given me some confidence that, in spite of how I feel when I'm running a lot of the time, I'm not in fact dead yet and actually do have some strength & speed to summon even when I feel like crap. Which.....feels kind of like the whole point?
GOOD LUCK, SF MARATHONERS / HALF MARATHONERS / CANADA IRONMEN & WOMEN!!!!