For the last few Saturdays, I’ve absolutely loved running. Now that I’ve discovered intervals and grasped the “slow” part of the long, slow distance (LSD) run, I’ve finally found a groove where I can maximize my running time, but still give my foot and my running form a much needed break. It’s contributed to all sorts of deranged thoughts, the sorts of situations where I see a giant hill and can imagine myself running up, the most powerful runner in the world! Or I can imagine myself running a marathon, triumphant (as opposed to mostly dead) at the end of 26.2 miles.
And then there was Thursday.
Wearing my Invincible Runner cape, I set out from the house with my vintage Garmin preprogrammed for 4:1 intervals. Half a mile in, the darned thing still hadn’t acquired its satellites. I stopped to walk and try to figure out what the problem was, rebooting the device and running again while it again struggled to connect with its buddies out there in geosynchronous orbit.
Finally — yay! — it connected. But the preprogrammed intervals had been lost, so I had to fiddle with that while again, I walked. I finally got it set up, started running again… and running… and running… where the heck was that beep, anyway? I looked down to see how much longer I had to go.
The Garmin was off. The battery was dead.
By now, my frustration level was through the roof. Was it a coincidence that this was around the same time that my foot started to ache? The entire rest of the run was a total bust, mostly walking, and I got back to the house wondering why the heck I ever decided to run in the first place.
Saturday made it all better.
I drove 35 minutes north to Concord to meet the Team for our weekly LSD run. Now, the absurdity of this is that it was a timed run — running for 50 minutes, rather than running for distance — which meant that I spent more time on the road than I did actually on the run itself. But running with a group keeps me going, even on days like this where I forgot my water bottle and ran with zero hydration.
The course was an out-and-back route. I set my (now fully recharged) Garmin for 4:1 interval blocks and ran out for 5 of them (25 minutes) then headed back. The return trip felt harder than the outbound, and I was convinced that I was going slower than before. Yet as I approached the parking lot, I realized that I had about 1:30 left in that block. I hadn’t been counting the number of blocks on the return, so I assumed that I was 3:30 slower on the return trip.
I was completely blown away when I dug my iPhone out of my race belt and shut off my Runkeeper app: 48:30. In spite of my heavy legs and perceived slowness, I’d actually run a negative split with a faster second half than first, and at an average speed that was more than 2:00/mile faster than my usual LSD pace (which, I suppose, means that I once again have forgotten the “S” part of LSD). Who would have guessed?
Of course, this made me feel light, airy and invincible. I love running! Running is awesome! This week, anyway.
An interesting note since I’ve started the intervals: I’ve been completely ibuprofen free. Even though I ran faster than I should have yesterday, I still didn’t have the achy, restless legs that used to keep me awake at night. Again, there’s really something to this interval thing.
This week: tempo run at the track on Tuesday night and then a relatively quiet week as I head into the Angel Island 12k on Saturday. Am I ready? Probably not. But if I just kick back, relax and enjoy the scenery, then it really doesn’t matter where I finish. Right? Last year I finished squarely in the lower third of the pack — 1:37:25 with an average pace per mile of 12:59 — but it wasn’t until after the end of the race that I realized that a good chunk of the runners had (intentionally or unintentionally) skipped the last part of the uphill and come around the fire trail.* So while I was really pleased with my pace for a trail run, my overall placement was a little bit disappointing because of the shortcutters. We’ll see how it goes this year.
* How did we know? I had met and befriended several runners on the ferry or at the starting line. They all started behind me, never passed me, yet were waiting at the finish when I got there. We checked the map on the return ferry and realized that they must have bypassed the last portion of the race and simply come back around and down while I was doing the final climb.