Getting a little bit of help was the theme of this week's training. First in the form of two kick-ass workouts given to me by a friend and running coach, and second in the form of some great teamwork on Sunday's long run.
The first workout was a series of alternating intervals (of varying durations) of half marathon and 10K pace. When I first looked at it, it actually didn't look like it would be all that tough. So I went into it feeling pretty confident, which is a good thing. The first few rounds of intervals did feel pretty comfortable, and I was marveling at how my half marathon pace of 7:30 was serving as a "recovery" pace.
But by the time I got to the last few intervals, the 7:30 was not feeling all that recovery-like. I pushed through, though, and hit or exceeded my pace goal for every single one. The last few were actually well under my goal, so I was spent, but I felt good.
I had planned to get Thursday's progression run done outside, but when I got to the gym, I was Garmin-less. With no specific goals in mind, I'd have no problem running without my Garmin, but I had a specific workout, so needed those numbers. And rather than trek back home, I just got on the treadmill. The goal was to start at 7:30 and work my way down (dropping 5 seconds per mile) to 6:55 for the final mile. It was really, really tough, but I did it - 7:30, 7:24, 7:19, 7:13, 7:08, 7:05, 6:55 (with last 1/4 mile at 6:40).
I took a quick break before that final mile, and I was mad at myself for doing that, which is why I cranked it up to 6:40 for the final 1/4 mile. I had to make up for slacking a little :-)
Due to my schedule being a little messed up last week (Scott was traveling for work), I hadn't had time to fit in any strength training at all, and I knew I wouldn't have time Friday, so even though I was pretty wiped out after that run, I stuck around and did about 40 minutes of weights. I was a puddle of exhaustion walking out of that gym - but felt pretty accomplished!
Wednesday and Friday yoga rounded out the week, and I'm still keeping up with my Myrtle routine twice a week, too, and have scaled back PT to every couple of weeks. Hoping that everything continues to feel as good as it does right now, because right now, I'd say all systems are go.
Which meant that Sunday's long run wasn't going to be just a long, slow distance run. Now that I feel good, I'm hell bent on a PR, so my plan was to run 4 miles easy, 3 miles at goal marathon pace (7:50), 1 mile easy, 3 miles at goal pace, 4 miles easy. I managed to round up a few other people who were willing to go along with me, and we set out for two 7.5-mile loops. The first 3 miles at goal pace felt pretty easy, and we ran them in 7:52, 7:40, and 7:38.
The second time we picked up the pace, I naturally tried to keep up with the two guys we were running with, and apparently they were running a 7:25 pace, because that's what the first mile came in at. We backed off a bit for the second mile, running that one in 7:42, but dropped back down to 7:23 for the final one. It was tough, and there was almost no talking during those 3 miles, but we pulled it off.
Those final 4 miles at an easy pace were very, very welcome, and once again we found ourselves running a lap around the parking lot to get to our even 15.0. People who see us must think we're crazy.
It was nice to have company for the run, and having other people to pace with for those faster miles definitely helped. I know I could have done it by myself, but it was good to feel like we were all working for it together - it changes the effort, and gives the run a different feel.
So another week concludes, with mileage hovering in the low 40s, and more progress with speedwork.
And now that I'm sitting here writing about it, I can't believe that a few weeks ago I was on the sidelines, not running at all, and wondering if I'd even be able to get to the starting line. But here I am, in the thick of the training, gearing up for another 20-miler this weekend, and thinking of nothing but my sub-3:30 goal.
Never say never. Never give up.
And if you get injured, go see Mary Szabo at Choice Physical Therapy in East Greenwich - she's an absolute miracle worker. I wouldn't have gotten across that finish line on Boylston Street two years ago without her, and she's worked her magic again. I can't wait to send her another finish line photo to thank her.