|photo courtesy of http://www.trailrunningclub.com|
I have had great intentions in the past of joining a formal running group, but have never done it. I joined a Meetup group in Anaheim when I first moved there, but was lucky enough to find friends in the neighborhood soon after moving there, so I never met up with the Meetup group. I am smack in the middle of marathon training right now. *Did I mention that I signed up for the Big Cottonwood Marathon on September 22?* That means that I need to find ways to motivate myself to push a little further.
I have met some people through DailyMile who are local Colorado runners. One of them messaged me about a track workout in town. She couldn't make it this week, but told me where and when it was. She encouraged me to go telling me that the group was warm and welcoming.
I was nervous. Really nervous.
I showed up to the track and there were a couple people there warming up. I set off to do a warm up myself. It struck me odd that the people that were running were running the opposite direction than people normally run around a track. I followed suit. It really did feel odd to run that way on a track. I figured that people wanted to run a different direction since the workouts would go the standard counter-clockwise. I didn't ask.
After my one mile warm up (which was the best mile I have run since moving here), people were gathering. I stood with the group awkwardly. No one talked to me at first. I introduced myself to someone who seemed like he was in charge. He then introduced me to Jane, the coach. Both of them were super nice and welcomed me.
Coach Jane gave us the evening's workout. This was cool. I have never had a coach tell me my workout. I have given out workouts, but it was nice to have someone figure it out for me. The workout was to run 1200 meters as a group and then in pairs, we would run twelve intervals of 300 meters. During the group 1200, we were to figure out who our partner would be.
Here is where I realized that the group was fast. Very fast. I ran with the pack and as I looked down at my Garmin, I was running in the low 7's! I averaged that 3/4 mile at around 7:15, which is fast for me, especially lately. However, I quickly fell toward the back of the pack. I was running even with some women for the first lap or two, but by the third lap I was nearly dead last. There was one older guy who was behind me. I have never really been the fastest runner in a group, but I definitely haven't been the slowest. It was a bit of a blow to my ego.
When it came to teaming up, I felt like the nerdy kid on the playground. No one was approaching me to ask me to be their partner. It seemed like there were a couple younger women who actually teamed in a group of three. Ack...another blow to the ego. The coach paired me with the man who was slower than me. This was actually a relief since the workouts were done in a relay fashion and your rest time is a function of the speed of your partner. I knew I would need as much rest between intervals as possible.
The workout was pretty simple, once I figured out what we were actually supposed to do. We sprinted 300 meters (3/4 of the way around a track) and then jogged/walked back 100 meters where our partner would be finishing his 300 meters). This would continue twelve times.
I can tell you that I never would have had the motivation to finish twelve intervals without the help of a partner/group. My partner, Brian, and I had been lapped several times over. But the good news is that with everyone running their own intervals, you couldn't really tell who was ahead and who was behind. Had Brian suggested that we skip the last two intervals (since we were about two behind the bulk of the pack), I would have easily agreed. But we did them all and pushed ourselves each time. We finished last to cheers of some of the people who were still milling about (others had set off to run some cool-down laps).
My pace was not as bad as I had thought at the time. Converting 300m to standard interval distances isn't easy, but I am pretty sure I am on target for where I need to be for a 3:40 to 3:45 marathon. When I knew I would be doing a track workout, not knowing what kind of intervals we would be doing, I set a conservative goal to run 400's under 2 minutes, knowing I should decrease that time to around 1:40 or so. I was not that far off. Here are my intervals:
My overall running pace for the evening (not including the jog back 100m to meet my partner) was 7:32 (including the 9:00 paced warm up!!). For me, that was fast, fast, fast. Even though I was the second slowest person out there, I am happy with my performance. Despite being the turtle, I will be checking my ego at the door and going back. Heck, some of that speed may just rub off on me!
I have eight weeks before my marathon. For the first time since starting my training, I think I am on the right track.