Wednesday, August 18, 2010

You might be a marathoner if... think a 12-mile run is short

...running at 10k pace feels blazingly fast keep Gu/SportBeans/Sharkies in your purse/briefcase - you know, just in case

...running out of bananas is a crisis situation in your home consider yourself a connoisseur of Gatorade and have a strong preference for orange over lemon-lime think 5k races are harder than marathons struggle to get out of bed at 6 am to get ready for work, but have no problem getting up at 4 am for a long run

The list could go on indefinitely, no doubt about it. I'd like to hear your "You might be a marathoner if..." quips - post them in the comments and I'll pick my favorite to add to this blog post (and you'll get credit for it too!).

I was mulling these things over the other day, thinking about how marathoners (and runners in general, really) are different from other people. Normal people. All of those above "ifs" apply to me. I had a 12 mile run this past Sunday and it was a breeze. But the thought of racing a 5k makes me more than a little nervous - sure, it may be shorter, but it's not necessarily easier. People say that the marathon is mostly mental. I would argue that the 5k is largely mental too. Running 3 miles in and of itself isn't particularly difficult for the average fit person. Running 3 miles as fast as possible, however, it very difficult. There is a very fine line between setting a personal record and have to stop to throw up.

I've also realized that I can't live without bananas. They are the perfect pre-long run food. When I run out of bananas, I panic. If I run out of bananas and then go to the grocery store only to find that the bananas there are all green, I panic even more.

And last night while I was blazing around the track at 5k pace during FAST (well, blazing by my standards), I asked myself, "Self, why is this so much tougher than running 16 miles at a slower pace?" Don't worry, I didn't answer myself. I'm not that crazy. *cackles like a lunatic* But the truth is, I don't really know why it seems so much more difficult. It just does.

So what was the workout, you ask? Why was I blazing around the track at 5k pace?

Because Coach Maggie told me to.

If Coach Maggie told me to jump off a bridge, would I do it?

Well, um... no. (Sorry, Maggie!)

But that's beside the point. Coach Maggie has all the power this week because Coach Brad is out of town. That means she gets to tell us what to do. And what she told us to do was the following: ~1 mile warmup to the cemetery and back to the track, 1 mile at 5k-10k pace on the track, 2 mile tempo run through cemetery, 1 mile at 5k-10k pace on the track. Got all that?

Normally, the summer heat and humidity would have made this workout absolutely miserable. But something amazing has happened here in Central Illinois: the weather has gotten cooler! We had the pleasure of doing our run last night in 68° overcast and lightly-drizzly conditions with hardly a trace of humidity. It was almost - dare I say it - chilly! These ideal running conditions allowed us to run faster and happier than we have in a long, long time.

I was able to run my track miles (laps 3 and 7 below) right at 5k pace, and though it was challenging, I never once felt like like throwing up. I had a little help at the end of my last mile - fellow FASTie Niki pushed me just a little more for that strong finish. She asked me, as I was huffing and puffing toward the final 100m, "How fast can ya run?" I believe my exact response was "Not *huff* as *puff* fast *huff* as *puff* you!" She sped up, so then I sped up, and then she sped up some more, so I sped up some more... I was running at a 6:02 pace when I crossed the finish of that final mile!

I gotta hand it to Coach Maggie. She comes up with some doozie workouts. They're tough, but the variety of them makes them seem not-quite-as-bad. Last night's workout was more like three mini-workouts. Mentally, it was a lot easier to get through it, than if we were doing, say 8 x 800m repeats (which would have netted about the same distance).

Our workout on Thursday will be a little different... we will be running a race-that's-not-really-a-race! It's actually a 3-mile fun run and it isn't officially timed and there are no awards or anything of that sort. But the coaches have presented us with a challenge: to predict our time for the 3-mile run. And whoever comes the closest to their predicted time will win a $20 gift card to the local running store. Oooooo - I loves me some gift cards!

So what's my prediction for myself? 27:45. And I will let you all know how I fare. I think Coach Maggie is going to keep a close eye on us to make sure we don't stand around at the finish line waiting to put our toe over the line right at our predicted time. But she can't possibly watch all of us at once... *cackles like a lunatic and runs away*

Peace. Love. Train.

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