As I mentioned in the previous post, lately Tuesday has been "rep day" for me. Over the past 4 weeks I've been ratcheting up the speed to where on 8/19 I ran 4 x 400m w/ the last 3 at an average of about 64.7 seconds. As Tuesday 8/26 approached, I was trying to decide what to run for that day. Being that I'm ramping my fitness back up after the injury, I'm very eager to know "how far away am I from my fitness peak in early February?" (right before I got hurt) I had done the usual, look thru the logbook and try to compare, but the best I could determine was that I was probably about 2 months away from being back at that level, but there was no real apples-to-apples comparison. As I looked at the logbook more closely, I found a quasi-time trial workout I did in early December: 2-mile warm up, 600m at 95% effort, 15-minute break, 400m at 95% effort. Being that I needed a rep workout for Tuesday, and this was almost exactly 2-months prior to the injury, running this workout would give me the apples-to-apples comparison I was looking for. So w/ that, Tuesday's workout was set. The times I needed to hit: 600m: 1:38.9 (2:12 half mile pace) and 400m: 62.2
Tuesday morning I was feeling a little apprehensive about this workout. What if I missed these times by a mile? That means I'm more like 3-months away from getting back to where I was. Three months, how depressing. If that were true, I'm probably better off not knowing. I also noticed a couple other things that I hadn't noticed before that didn't make me feel any better. #1, back in December I took the day off before this workout and this time it was going to be my 3rd consecutive day of running. And #2, the temperature back then was in the low 60s and today I was going to be looking at mid-80s (or so I thought), not good.
The kiss of death seemed to appear on the car ride over to the track when the outside temp reading from the car matched the one at the house: 91 degrees, and not one damn cloud in the sky. By the time I got to the track I had pretty much talked myself out of the workout. Things like "I'm setting myself up for failure", "it's WAY too hot", and more specifically, "how the hell am I going to run a 63 first quarter and still have anything left for the last 200m w/ my obvious lack of cardio fitness" kept running through my head. How about a nice threshold workout of 5 x 1000m at 6-min/mile pace instead?? After a cutting the warm up short by about a half mile due to the heat I said "the hell w/ it, just run the damn workout". I didn't want to sit there all week waiting to run it next Tuesday. I figured I'd just do the best I could and if the results were poor, then I just had more work to do. However, I did stand at that starting line for a good 3-minutes before taking off.
First 200m came in at 29 and change, which is exactly where I wanted to be. Of course this was the easy part - hell I had run the first 200m in about 29 three times last week, but then I eased up and cruised the last 200m - here I still had 400m to go and no part of it was going to be all that easy. I felt pretty good thru the second 200m, and when I looked at my Garmin and saw 62 and change I knew I was going to be OK. In December I ran the first quarter in 63 and change and finished w/ about a 35 second last 200m. Although I knew I was slowing here on this last 200m, I was sure it was faster than 35 second pace. I didn't put the pedal down because I still had the 400m coming; I ran a nice controlled final straightaway. When I finished I knew I had beaten the 1:38.9 target, and I couldn't have been happier when I looked at the watch and saw 1:36.7 - 2.2 seconds faster than December. (A 2:09 half mile pace, although there was no way I could have run that today)
At this point, the heat really started to become a pain in the ass. My HR wouldn't drop below 118, craziest thing - it just wouldn't drop even if I stood still. (no there was no shade) But I had to run this 400m. In December the time was 62.2 - based on my previous 600m I was targeting 61.2 - 61.5. The other thing I decided to do here was run this 400m w/a very similar strategy I used to use back in HS - run the first 100m hard, ease up just a bit and get a nice stride going for the 2nd 100m and then run the last 200m like it were simply a 200m race (i.e. run the whole thing hard) The only changes compared to the HS days were #1 the first 4-6 steps weren't going to be full speed because I can pop a quad that way, and #2 this was supposed to be 95% effort, not 100% so leave a little in the tank during the last 200m.
I ran the curve nicely and settled in during the back straight. At 200m I saw exactly what I expected to see, 28 and change. I thought to myself, "now for the toughest part of the day". . . . except it wasn't. Last week I ran the first 200m of those quarters at 29+ and then eased up for the 2nd 200 - partly to have enough left for the 4 repeats, and partly because I needed to, as I was fatigued and gasping for air a bit. Not today. I had no trouble picking it up around that back turn, and as I came around to the final straight I noticed that the issues I had w/ my running form last week were gone. I wasn't running too upright, I had my usual body positioning and the stride felt comfortable and for a change, correct. I made sure not to really hammer that last 70-80m and keep it an honest 95%, and I didn't notice any lack of cardio fitness until the last 20-30 meters. (although I know it's there)
I was sure I came in under 61.5 - being that the Garmin didn't display tenths of seconds, all I could see initially from the watch was that I was actually under 61.0 When I stored the run and took a look at the history I did a bit of a double take at the time - 60.02. Sixty flat? In Ninety-one degrees. . . after that 600m run? Again, 2.2 seconds faster than December. This changes things . . . I need to adjust my plan . . .