I mentioned in my last post how much I would like to run a race.
Well, today I got to (sort of). I ran my long-awaited 2-mile lactate threshold test for Darren.
Darren sends me the week's workouts every Sunday, so that's when I found out I had the test on tap for today. Even though this sort of test is NOT a race--it's an all-out effort done to establish proper heart rate ranges for various training workouts--I got almost as nervous as if it were. I haven't run "all-out" anything since February. I've only rarely ever run an all-out 2-miler. And I had no idea how I would manage to run that fast AND take 1/4-mile split times and heart rates.
Fortunately Darren was able to meet me at Flatiron Athletic Club (the setting of this post from a long time ago) to supervise my run on the treadmill. It was the first time I've run for him, which upped the adrenaline factor even more but also reduced the nervousness because he'd be there to help me push the pace, record the splits--and just generally get it done.
I arrived a half-hour early to warm up, stretch and do some strides. Out in the car just before I went inside the club, the new song by Mumford & Sons, whom Dan and I will be seeing at Red Rocks Amphitheater tomorrow night, came on the radio. If you haven't heard it yet, it's amazing. I listened to the whole thing, hoping the words "...feel my heart slow...." would somehow trickle into my test time.
Once inside and ready to go, I chose a treadmill on the end of a row so Darren would be able to see the screen. Then I ran a very slow 15-minute warm-up, did my stretches from Dr. Hansen and climbed back on the machine for four 25-second strides.
Somewhere in the middle of the slow 15 minutes, I acquired a neighbor to my immediate left. She seriously looked like Atalanta herself--tall, not an ounce of body fat, sponsored jersey. She started her warm-up at just a little slower than where I expected to be for my all-out test, and after a while launched into intervals at a 5-minute-per-mile pace. I just had to laugh. This kind of thing happens to me whenever I go into that club.
Darren got there right on time, and we pretty much launched straight into it, starting at an 8:30 pace, but ratcheting that down pretty quickly to 8 minutes/mile even. After that, Darren lowered it again every quarter mile, and as we got nearer the end more often than that. I pushed the lap button on my Garmin every quarter mile to record my time and heart rate for the split.
It's so great to have a coach. At one point early in the first mile he told me I wasn't running hard enough "because you can still talk and laugh." Which made me laugh a little more. Until he duly increased the pace. He also at one point stood behind me to give my form a look. Apparently I was almost entirely on my toes, fine for going fast but maybe not for a long race. But overall, he said, my form is good. He said some other things I can't remember, because I was starting to hurt by the end of that first mile.
I don't remember much of the second mile. I do recall being really hot, and trying to say the lyrics to the Mumford & Sons song in my head and losing the thread really quickly. (Darren said: "Hot? Hot is OK.") At one point I tried to look at the TV above the treadmill and was unable to concentrate enough to register what was on. Darren at this point was reminding me to concentrate on form, remember the core work I've been doing, so I tried. But he also kept pushing that pace, so every now and then I'd check in and realize I was doing that loping tired thing. At the end, all I could do was think of the number that would end that quarter split and of getting to it. The last tenth of a mile he had me at a 6:30 pace.
And then it was over. I did the two miles in 15:13:37. My first mile was 7:53 and my second 7:20. I noticed my fleet-footed neighbor had left at some point. Darren hung around a little longer and took my heart rate again two minutes after I finished. It had fallen from 177 to 133. Then he was off to a master's swim workout and I was on my own to cool down and do my weights/core routine.
Now how do I feel, six hours later? A little headachy--I probably should have hydrated better afterwards. A lot hungry. A little elated, because I can still run sort of fast (for me). I plugged the time into the McMillan Calculator, and while I've definitely lost some of my fitness since the Houston Marathon, it's at a place I can work with. I'm VERY glad I worked that recumbent bike so hard all spring. And I'm feeling VERY grateful to have hired a coach.
Now I'm waiting for him to send me my training paces. Now, I feel, the real training is beginning.
13 weeks to the California International Marathon. 13 weeks, and a lot of work to do.