Thursday, November 8, 2007

Round and Round

These last few weeks it seems as though I've been watching more running than actually doing it. My son started doing cross-country this year and I take him to practice several times a week as well as running 3 to 4 miles with him on some of the days when he doesn't have practice. This was all leading up to the State meet on November 3rd. He had done two races on the same course prior to the State meet with times of 14:57 and 14:37 for 3km (1.8 miles). He trained hard leading up to the big day and it paid off for a time of 13:47, good enough for 9th place and a trip to Regionals on the 17th at the same venue. Of course I'm super proud of him because he's giving it his best effort and having a good time. He races in the Midget category for 11-12 year olds and is one of the youngest in his category since he just turned 11 at the end of September.
So one day we were out on a training run around Sugarhouse park when he mentioned that he would like to try running a mile on the track. We ran a loop around the park for a warm-up then broke off down to the Highland High track to attempt a 7 minute mile. We started out running the right pace but after one time around he developed a bad side cramp and had to stop. Too late, the damage was done because during that first lap my mind started drifting back to some unfinished business I have with the track, a sub 5 minute mile. Back in the day I used to run the mile and my fastest time was 5:19 when I was a freshman in high school. Two years ago when I started running again I tried again, without any speedwork in my legs and clocked a 5:21. So made up my mind, today was the day I would break a sub 5 mile.
My son watched anxiously as I took off from the start line in a dead run aiming for a 37 second 200 meter split. I hit the 200 meter mark and alarm bells went off when I looked down at my watch, 33 seconds! I had started out to fast and everyone knows that can be the death nail to a good time. The next split was 38 secs, so I was still 3 secs to the good. But then the fatigue started to set in, which is an entirely different type of fatigue that comes from running for hours on end. My splits continued to slow and I eventually finished in 5:23. The steely taste of lactic acid filled my mouth and my chest was heaving from my lungs trying to get enough oxygen. I hadn't pushed my anaerobic limit that hard since I was racing bikes.
It was clear that if I was going to trim another 24 seconds off that effort I would have to do some work. So that's what I did last night while my son had cross-country practice. I headed over to the track after a 2 mile warm-up and did 200 meter repeats. I did eight of them at 35 seconds with 1:30 rest. The strange thing was that the intervals didn't hurt, in fact they actually felt kind of good. I finished by jogging over to cross-country practice where I found the team doing hill repeats. I should qualify the team before I continue as they are made up of kids from the age of 10 all the way through juniors in high school. When I show up the coach says "are you going to join them for some hill repeats?". Oh why not, I can hang for some hills, even if I did just do 200 meter repeats at the track. I decided to start a few steps behind the oldest boys and try to hold their pace. The first couple went fine, but then it felt like they were speeding up trying to put the hurt on the old man. After the fourth one I decided I would really dig and at least finish even with them. I couldn't do it. I dug deep but the well was dry. I had punched all my fun tickets for the night. After this I joined them for a mile and a half cool down around the park that no doubt saved my legs from a considerable amount of delayed onset muscle fatigue (fancy term for sore muscles the next day).
I think that doing some speedwork will be a good change for my legs and will hopefully get me past that sub 5 barrier.

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Brian Beckstead said...

Keep doing those speedworkouts! Saw you got in to Squaw Peak. What other ultras are you doing for 2008?

Jennifer said...

Do you by any chance have the original Runner's World ad that the No Finish Line running picture is from? Or know where I could get one? Thanks! Jennifer

Christian said...

Jennifer, sorry for the delayed response. I'm pretty sure I found the picture on a nike website that featured old posters. If you find somewhere that has the print version let me know.