Monthly Archives: April 2008

Mile Repeats (or, Oops)

Start Time: 4/29/08, 7:30am
Location: Arlington Boulevard Trail
Distance: 3 miles & 2 miles
Average Pace: 7:31min/mile & 9:28min/mile
Total Miles For April: 26 miles

After a late start in the morning (I’d planned to start running about an hour earlier!) my plan was to run the mile repeats workout; run 3 miles, each at around 85% effort, with “full recovery” between each one. But how long should I recover after each mile? I puzzled on that one as I ran my warm-up (9:09). I finally figured I’d play it by ear, and set off for the first mile… which was done in 7:09, aka faster than the mile I ran on Saturday. Oops! A bit too fast. Now to be fair, there is a slight downhill grade for this stretch of the trail, but still.

After 3 minutes of slowly walking around, I started heading back and quickly realized two mistakes. First, I should’ve rested a tiny bit more, I was feeling winded really quickly. And second, if the previous leg was slightly downhill, this stretch was slightly uphill. I figured I would be at least a minute slower, and I was only off on that guess by a few seconds (8:04). This time, I waited about 5 minutes before finally heading off on the last mile, which was much more reasonable (7:21). Then a low cool-down run home (9:47) and I was all done for the day. Since I knew I wouldn’t be running on Wednesday, a good wrap for the month of April.

Brisk and Gray

Start Time: 4/27/08, 3:00pm
Location: Rock Creek Park
Distance: 4 miles
Average Pace: 8:24min/mile
Total Miles For April: 21 miles

My new training schedule has runs for the weekend day we don’t have actual training, so today’s entry on the schedule stated “2-4 mile progressive run” (which is what I attempted on Tuesday). I’d run some errands up in Woodley Park earlier and on the drive home down Rock Creek Parkway, noticed that a lot of the construction appears to be done on the trail—and decided that it would be a nice place for today’s run. So I went home, changed, hopped back in the car and parked right after Pegasus Bridge, before walking down to the Kennedy Center and starting my run.

It was a damp, slightly gray day out. Perfect for a run, in other words. I had the Garmin with me to mark off my splits, and before long I’d hit the first mile at 9:18. A much better start to a progressive run than my last attempt! As I continued to jog along, I glanced down at the Garmin and realized… either it was glitching, or I was going way too fast. Uh oh. I slowed down a tiny bit, but the mile was almost over and sure enough, I hit it at 8:19. Time to turn around… and see what happened on my way back. Mile 3 was just a tiny bit faster at an 8:17, and as I pushed up a bunch of hills in that stretch I took it as a victory of sorts. Still, I needed to show a better final mile so I gave a bit of a push… hurrah! 7:40. A great end to the run.

(That said, if I ever again see someone climb up onto the stone railing over the Potomac and do sit-ups, it will be too soon. Some people are very strange. And brave. And nuts. All it would take is a slight lean the long way and you’d fall off and into the river… which isn’t very deep. That would seriously hurt.)

New earlier time, new faster pace

Start Time: 4/26/08, 7:00am
Location: Washington & Lee High School
Distance: 2.5 miles
Total Miles For April: 17 miles

Due to an elementary school track group that shows up at 8am, we shifted our time back to 7am for Saturdays. That’s fine by me, actually. Get everything done with and have lots of time to spare. After a warm-up mile, we did what last week’s elementary school group had kept us from doing—a timed mile run. Now, I knew that Emma is normally faster than me, and Laura’s right around the same pace. But there were also a lot of new faces and who knows what to expect from them?

Still, I went up into the front of the group and started off for four laps around the track. I actually ended up in the third lane, with two women that I’d never met before pacing along. For something like this, even though there’s an obvious place to count off progress (each lap) in my head I viewed it as eighths; having the number turn over in a minute or less somehow makes it easier to focus. By the time I’d finished the first half lap, the other two women were still very close to me, but I knew in the next curve I could safely shift into the first lane without doing so mere paces in front of them. And when I hit the first lap (1:45) I was clear of everyone else. But of course, things can change, right?

After I finished my second lap (1:58), taking it a little slower as to not burn out (I’d definitely given an extra little push to get clear of the others), I glanced over my shoulder. Emma was in fact about a quarter of a lap behind me. Good to know. I hit the third lap a little faster (1:53) and felt good heading into the final stretch. I was picking up a bit of speed and had a quarter lap to go when I could hear Emma’s feet pounding the pavement in a sprint, making her move to pass me. “Oh no you don’t!” I yelled and hit the gas as well. As we crossed the finish line (1:43)… victory! Emma was maybe just a second behind me at most, but with a 7:19 I’d beaten her. So rare! (I better enjoy that while I can.) Laura was just behind the two of us, looking pretty strong as always.

Afterwards we had four 200-meter runs, with each one supposed to be a little faster than the previous—and with the idea to pick up the pace at the 100m mark. For the first two, it was more or less the same; at the 100m mark, Emma would zoom by me and finish a bit ahead, with me hot on her heels. For the third and fourth, though, I was able to finish first without her overtaking me—and since each one was indeed faster, that felt great. (0:41, 0:40, 0:39, 0:36)

A very good workout, both in terms of running and also a nice ego-boost.

Return to the 28 minutes of hell

Start Time: 4/24/08, 7:30am
Location: Arlington Boulevard Trail
Distance: 5 miles
Total Miles For April: 14.5 miles

Oof! This was a return to Fred’s fabled “28 minutes of hell” workout. I didn’t feel like marking off specific distances to run things like halves or quarters, so instead I picked this workout. After a mile warm-up, it’s as follows:

Run 2 minutes, HARD
Recover 2 minutes (slow jog or fast walk)
Run 1 minute, HARD
Recover 1 minute
Run 30 seconds, HARD
Recover 30 seconds
repeat three more times

The nice thing was even with the slower moving for recovery, I polished off 3 miles in those 28 minutes. Considering only half of it was actually running, a 9:20min average speed means I was definitely trucking. Even the cool-down mile was around that speed.

Progressive Run

Start Time: 4/22/08, 6:15pm
Location: W&OD Trail
Distance: 3 miles
Average Pace: 8:31min/mile
Total Miles For April: 9.5 miles

I’m now on the “pick one of the following workouts” regimen so Tuesday’s run was “2-4 miles progressive run, each mile faster than the previous.” I headed out to the W&OD Trail and made a big mistake—I started on a downhill. So I finished the first mile and that’s when I realized why this was a bad thing. First, I took that mile too fast because of the downhill. And second, it meant the return would be all uphill. Whoops. I decided that as a result I’d just run 3 miles instead of 4, and knowing that mile three was the last one gave me a nice kick even though it was still slogging back uphill. Oof! Next time, I start on the uphill. (8:47, 8:37, 8:10)

Return to Group Training

Start Time: 4/19/08, 7:30am
Location: Washington-Lee High School
Distance: 1.25 miles & 4x100m
Total Miles For April: 6.5 miles

I took two weeks off of running after the Cherry Blossom disaster, which felt really nice. I did a lot of rowing, elliptical, and spinning to stay active, but stopped pounding the pavement. But, last Saturday everything started back up again. We ran about a mile and a quarter in our warm-up (including up and down the bleachers! Ugh!) and did a bunch of drills (butt-kicks, knee-highs, cross-overs). We then ran four 100m drills, each one faster than the previous, which was fun. (22:88, 19:94, 16:56, 14:11) The plan was to then run a timed 1-miler, but another group was also using the track and it was too crowded so that part was postponed until next week. Oh, darn.

Cherry Blossom 5-miler

Start Time: 4/6/08, 7:50am
Location: East Potomac Park, mostly
Distance: 5 miles
Average Pace: 8:58min/mile
Total Miles For April: 5 miles

Bleah. This was an important lesson—when to not run a race. I was still feeling a little cruddy from the National Half Marathon eight days earlier, and when I woke up it was cold and raining on and off. With 20/20 hindsight, I should have just stayed home and scratched the race. But my pride got the better of me, and suddenly I was on the last possible train downtown to get to the start on time. Now, at that point what I should have done was just run the 5K instead, I think I might’ve enjoyed that a lot more. But instead I hopped into my corral right as the one in front of it was starting, and headed off into the crappy weather.

Well, how I felt matched the weather quite nicely. Within a mile I was regretting running. Within two miles I began to seriously wonder why I was there. And at mile three I was trying to remember when the course swung near the start again, so that I could quit. This was the first time I’d ever quit a race and gotten the dreaded DNF (did not finish). And I won’t lie, at the time I was utterly destroyed by it. I felt horrible, and down, and just… yeah, really really bad. Looking back on it now, the fact that I was in fact in the middle of a full-blown cold (and not just allergies like I’d thought) certainly wasn’t helping matters. But it was absolutely the right thing to do. The fact that about five minutes after I quit, it started raining again? A bit of vindication.

So, my first and hopefully last DNF. Next time? If it comes down to that I hope I was smart enough to not even start. (8:49, 8:44, 8:42, 9:02, 9:34)

National Half Marathon 2008

The National Half Marathon

Start time: 3/29/08, 7:00am

Location: Washington DC

Distance: 13.1 miles

Finishing time: 2:00:17

Average pace: 9:11min/mile

Miles for March: 57

Just realized I’d never gotten around to posting this. So, the disappointment that was the National Half Marathon this year.

A year earlier I ran the race, had an extra quarter mile tacked on by accident, and finished with a 1:58:17. This year? Two minutes slower, but without the added distance. So what happened? A few things. I hadn’t trained as well, something I knew going into the day. My longest run beforehand was a 10-miler, and looking back to the previous year (as well as this year’s splits) having a 12-miler under my belt really had helped. (I felt soon after hitting marker 10 like I’d run out of gas.) A mistake I won’t make again. In general, though, I just wasn’t feeling as excited about the race, and that can be a bad thing.

It’s also worth noting that this year’s course was much steeper than last year’s for the half-marathon. That climb up through mile 8? It wiped me out, and then once I hit new distance (as you’ll see below) everything just sort of crashed and burned. There was also some self-sabotage going on with what I can best term “bad math.” I remember finishing mile 11, seeing the split, and thinking it was impossible to stay under 2 hours. Well, that wasn’t really the case at that point, but it certainly seemed like it. And I am sure that given a mental defeat, my body followed along rather stupidly.

(I’m also kicking myself for needing a minute long bathroom break during mile 3. Had I just peed in the parking lot right beforehand like I’d contemplated, at least being sub-2:00 probably would’ve been in the bag. Oh well.)

Live and learn, live and learn. And hey, it wasn’t a personal best, but I did finish and it was faster than my 2006 time. I’m really glad I ran it.

Mileage Mile Times Total Time Overall Pace Elevation
1 09:27.7 0:09:28 0:09:28
2 08:47.1 0:18:15 0:09:07
3 09:38.9 0:27:54 0:09:18
4 08:30.2 0:36:24 0:09:06
5 09:00.3 0:45:24 0:09:05
6 09:18.7 0:54:43 0:09:07
7 09:25.4 1:04:08 0:09:10
8 08:57.7 1:13:06 0:09:08
9 08:58.5 1:22:04 0:09:07
10 08:55.3 1:31:00 0:09:06
11 09:20.4 1:40:20 0:09:07
12 09:45.3 1:50:05 0:09:10
13.1 10:11.9 2:00:17 0:09:11

Bleah on the percentile drop this year, though. THAT is humiliating, considering I shifted into a new age group. *sigh*

2006: 133/156 (85th percentile) (30-39M)

2007: 117/212 (55th percentile) (30-34M)

2008: 154/226 (68th percentile) (35-39M)