Friday, June 19, 2009

Fastest Fez

It's the eve of the Shriner's 8k (now called the Summer Solstice Run), and I am beginning to construct my multi-tiered race goals for tomorrow morning's event.  As with the No Excuses 5k, I have never done particularly well at Shriner's.  It is usually blazing hot and I have traditionally run a marathon less than 2 months before the event.  Needless to say, I have cause to set low expectations for my performance there.  

Predicting my performance and formulating a race plan for short races is a tough exercise for me.  I have not trained for short distance speed, well, ever.  Since I started running, I have always been training for a marathon event.  Consequently, my fastest relative times are at the half marathon distance and above, and I am totally fine with that.  Some day I'll get the bug to run fast and short, but for now, I am content to keep knocking time off my marathon.

I have enjoyed the faster workouts I've done in the last two weeks.  Last week I blogged about the 1/4 mile repeats I did along the bike trail.  This week I got to actually take my workout to the track!  I had a total of 12 miles to run Tuesday, and of course, I missed my early girlie appointment yet again.  This time, I think it worked out to my advantage.  It has been warmer this week, so an evening run gave me a chance to acclimate to the heat for the race this weekend.  I ran from my house to the Sacramento State University practice track and did my strides along the way.  It was about 85 degrees or so when I started, so I knew I was going to get in some good heat training.

I got to the track and had to share the two narrow lanes with about 30 other runners.  For the most part, they were courteous and jogged in the second lane when not going fast, but I felt like I was in lane 2 most of the workout.  The workout was 8 x 600m cutdown style.  So, the first 200m was run at 10k effort, then 300m (without rest) at 5k effort, and the last 100m faster but in control.  The rest was a 2 minute jog.  I had no idea what to shoot for in this workout in terms of splits.  This was further complicated by the fact that every watch/GPS unit I tried on before leaving home was dead except a fancy little Nike number that gave me a blank screen every time I pressed a button.  So, I had a semi-functional split watch as my only measuring tool.  The horror!

I started out with a 39 second 200, and immediately knew that I was starting too hot.  I slowed to 40 for the next 200m split and then kicked it in for a 1:57 600m.  This felt too fast, but I couldn't calculate what the pace was on the fly.  I now realize it was under 5:15 pace.  I started to really concentrate on effort and became a lot more consistent.  My 8, 600m splits looked like this:

1 - 1:57
2 - 2:01
3 - 2:03
4 - 2:06
5 - 2:05
6 - 2:04
7 - 2:04
8 - 2:04

Those last 3 repeats were metronome like.  I felt totally dialed in and also felt like I could have done more when I had finished.  I did have another 4.5 miles ahead of me after this, and ended up closer to 14 miles total for the evening.  I felt great after this workout; like I had some speed in my marathon legs.

So, back to my race goals for Shriner's.  My safe goal is to PR.  My PR is from 2 years ago and is 31:25.  I'm pretty sure that one is coming down.  Ratcheting down from there, my next goal is to run under 6:00 min/mile pace for each split with an average pace below 6:00 min/mile as a close second.  Finally, if the summer sun is truly aligned with my 7 chakras, I would like to run a time equivalent to my Valentine's Run performance at the beginning of the last training cycle.  That would end up being around a 29:36 or so.  I could, of course, run faster since my half marathon PR predicts a 28:30ish 8k.  I guess if I were actually training for this race, I could achieve that mark, but for now I'm looking to at least PR.

Good luck to everyone racing tomorrow and especially those ultra runners taking on the Western States 100 miler next weekend!    Race hard!

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