Wayne Jr gave me those saucer sized, heart-melting eyes when I told him I was going to ride my bike to the track today. I have such a soft spot when one of the kids actually wants to do something active with me that of course, I said, “Yes.” Less than a mile down the road, my 10 1/2 year old son (who even refers to himself as a “Pipsqueak” since he’s the same size as the average 7 year old), was huffing and puffing on his little, bitty bike yelling ahead at me, “My butt hurts, Mom!” “I know, buddy! It’s because we haven’t done this enough yet. Our bottoms will get tougher if we just stick with it!” Half a mile later, “My butt hurts Mom AND my legs are exhausted!” Me: “Dude, we’ve still got more than 3 miles to go to get there. Just hang in there!” Silence from Jr a half mile later. I peeked over my shoulder and he was a teensy little dot wayyyyy back there. I stopped. I waited. He wobbled towards me on his little bike, looking truly like a man who’d ran 100 miles instead of a one who’d biked less than 3. This became our pattern. I’d encourage him along, “Looking good, honey! Keep it up!’ He’d consistently reply with, “My buns, Mom! They HURT!” FINALLY, we arrived at the track – 5.2 miles to the gate from my front door. Thank goodness!!!!
Now on my bike ride to the track earlier in the week, I’d rode a comfortable, easy pace of about 11.3 mph. Today it was a whopping 7.9 mph! hahaha! I kept thinking my bike would tip over from having to ride so slow. But, I figured, “What the heck. I’m here to do a little preliminary track work and see how badly out of speed shape I’ve gotten during the winter and spring while I was focusing more on long distances and trail/ aka MOUNTAIN running. I’ve read that doing this type of training program is called periodization and this is my second year of doing things this way. Last year it really paid off in the end. All those mountains/trails/long distances built my strength, my muscle base and my endurance. By the time I started focusing on the roadwork/ speed and racing of summer and fall I was faster than the year before – MUCH faster than I’d been in the past. It seemed to be a good way of doing things for me, since it keeps things mentally fresh and interesting by changing up my focus throughout the year, while also allowing my bones/joints and feet to back off from the tougher road work/speed for a few months of the year, hopefully keeping my injury risk at a minimum. That’s the theory anyway. 🙂
So, here I am, on the cusp of a new marathon training season, smack dab in the summertime when shorter races are abundant to test my speed as I prepare for my “key” race of the year — the fall marathon. I’m feeling heavy-legged, a little chunky (trail running is very challenging, but requires more calories as you since you’re out there longer and moving at a slower pace – so I tend to put on a few lbs during the endurance season), and not at all sharp. Perfect! The legs and body are ready for the hard work to begin as I become a lean, mean racing machine! Or, at least TRY to become one!
My goal today on the track was simple. I needed a baseline number — a mile test — to see where I’m at right now. On my birthday last year – November 2nd, I ran a timed mile just for fun in the college parking lot near my home (at the time the closest thing I thought I had to a track in my area.) I did that in 6:50. That was about a month after my 4:20 marathon and right before I ran my 1:57 at Zeitgeist (a road half marathon with LOTS of tough,slow, long hills.) I was feeling fairly good, so that’s sort of where I was at the end of last season – and kind of a guide as to where I want to get again (or beat) by the end of this season.
I sent Jr off to play on the playground and I warmed up for a mile. I did some stretches and then I went for it. I ran a mile as quickly as I could on the track. The legs felt fatigue and heaviness almost from the start. The 12 mph winds were nice for keeping me cool, but felt like a challenge to run into on the back stretches of the track. I did the best I could and the Garmin shows it was 7:49 — nearly an entire MINUTE slower than the fall. Ok, baseline established. Get those fast-twitch muscles to work again, strengthen my legs and body and let’s see what I can accomplish this year. I admit I was discouraged by how out of shape I felt and how slow I ran. But, I’ll get it back. And, hopefully, even improve on last fall’s 1 mile time trail this year. I’d love to push myself hard enough that eventually I see a 5:59 in a mile trial. That may be out of reach, but if I shoot for the moon, I still will land among the stars, right? I really think a 6:39 is possible, though.
Jr came back as I was walking the first lap of the cooldown. He stood on the track and handed me my water bottle as I made the last 3 loops, just jogging lightly and chatting with a nice lady who was using the oval today, too.
After my 1 mile cooldown, Jr asked me to join him on the playground, so I did. We went through the “obstacle course” together. Note to self: I suck at the monkey bars bigtime – work on it!
We hopped back on our bikes and this time I did something different for the ride home. The first mile I led, just as I had on the way there, but when I’d look back, he was going slower than ever, just poking along, handlebars wobbling all over the place (while he scared his poor Mother to death, as I feared he’d veer right into the traffic.) I thought about my 50 miler. How, at some points, I’d be way behind my pacer and feel discouraged and how when I’d get in front I’d start to shine again. Maybe Jr just needed a little mental boost from being in the front. So, once he caught up, I let him lead. It helped! He went from riding about a 5 mph pace to an 8. Ahh – amazing what a little psychological boost can do for you when you’re feeling the burn!
Bike: 10.4 miles. Ave speed: 7.9 mph. Time: 1:19:11. Heart rate: 119. Warm/cool Run: 2.04 miles. 24:02 total time. 12:01 pace (walked some of the cooldown with Jr.) Speed session: 1 mile. 7:49 pace. HR: 170. Felt: Fatigue. Weather: 68 degrees. Sunny. 12 mph winds.