Thursday, December 30, 2010

I blog to save lives!

No, this is not one of those things where for every person who visits my blog, 50 cents will be donated to cancer research in Zimbabwe (in which case I would raise an astounding $2). My friends, I blog to save the lives of FASTies. You see, Coach Brad has revealed to me on more than one occasion that he tries to come up with crazy workouts just so I'll blog about them. If I don't blog frequently enough about the craziness of FAST, apparently he takes that as his cue to come up with increasingly insane workouts. Last night he tried to kill us all, and this simply must stop!

So what was last night's epic workout that had so many of us gasping for air and begging for mercy, you ask? Allow me to show you. Keep in mind that 1 mile is 7.5 laps-ish (give or take a little bit depending on which lane you run in):

Black Group Workout
8 lap warm-up
1 lap hard, 1 lap easy
2 laps hard, 2 laps easy
3 laps hard, 3 laps easy,
4 laps hard
*3-minute core work routine
4 laps easy
3 laps hard, 3 laps easy
2 laps hard, 2 laps easy
1 lap hard, 1 lap easy
*Special surprise for Black and Red groups
4 lap cooldown

This adds up to a about 5.87 miles, not including the "special surprise". The items I have starred are what made this workout a real doozy. Going straight from running a hard 1/2 mile to lying on the floor doing bicycle crunches was... nauseating, to say the least. I really wanted to walk around for a few minutes to catch my breath, but Evil Coach Maggie would have none of it. I was so fatigued from the intense running that I couldn't even hold a plank for a full minute. Since you all know that I am the Plankmaster, I think this is pretty good evidence that it's freakin' hard to drop and do core work in the middle of an interval run. And then we had to get right back up and start running again!

As I ran my intervals, Coach Brad kept yelling at me to catch up with Kristi and Danielle who were a quarter lap ahead of me and steadily increasing that gap. It seemed Brad had completely lost his mind by that point and had turned into a sort of mad scientist, complete with deranged cackling. "PUSH IT!" he yelled. "I AM! But I can't catch up to them!" I yelled back. "I don't care! BWAHAHAHA!" he yelled back. Oh yeah, he had definitely lost it.

I never did catch Kristi and Danielle - they are just too speedy for me. But I tried to keep them in sight, which did give me a little extra push (or pull). Before I knew it, I was coming up to my last hard interval - just one hard lap. I gave it everything I had and managed a 6:52 pace for that one lap. Not too shabby. Below you can see my awesome Excel graph of the workout, complete with labeled intervals. *cough cough* geek! *cough*

(Click to see it bigger.)

After that tough workout, I was pretty fried and pretty much ready to cool down, stretch, and go home. But no. Evil Coach Brad had a little surprise tucked up his sleeve for us. He wouldn't tell us in advance what exactly it was, but I smelled a maintenance mile. When I asked him outright "Are we doing a maintenance mile?" he just shrugged and walked away. Silence speaks a thousand words. Or in this case, it speaks two words: maintenance mile.

I was askeered! I had never done a maintenance mile before. It is a special form of torture that, until yesterday, was reserved for only the very fastest of the FASTies. I have watched several of my fellow FASTies do it and seen the pained looks on their faces as they nearly collapse from fatigue at the end of it. I wasn't sure if I was ready for such an arduous task.

So what exactly is a maintenance mile, you ask?

It is an all-out, balls-to-the-wall, run-til-you-collapse (or puke) one-mile run. What makes it so scary is that it comes after a tough workout, and you are never warned about it in advance. You don't know it's coming until it's time to do it. What is the advantage of the surprise? Well, for one thing, it prevents the you from running a little easier in the workout in order to save up energy for the mile. The idea of the maintenance mile is to gauge your fitness in a pre-fatigued state. It also builds confidence because as it turns out, most people can do this exercise a lot faster than they think they can. All of the FASTies who did the maintenance mile last night ran faster than they predicted.

Coach Brad asked me for a prediction. How fast did I think I could gut out a full-steam mile in my current state of exhaustion? I hemmed and hawed. I didn't want to sell myself short, but I also didn't want to predict something way too fast. I finally settled on 8:30. I was pretty sure I could run 8:30. It would be tough, but it was just one mile, right?

And so I ran as fast I thought I could sustain for 7.5 laps. After a couple of laps it got really hard really fast. I didn't look at my Garmin except to keep track of my lap count - I rarely check my pace while I'm running workouts with FAST as I prefer to run by feel and then analyze the data later on. So I really didn't know how fast I was going, but I knew that I really couldn't go any faster. I was vaguely aware of some of my fellow FASTies along the side of the track cheering for me, but I did not have any spare energy to acknowledge them. I would like to acknowledge them now, though, because they really did help me push - thanks guys!

Finally, I was starting my 7th lap. Just 1/2 lap to go! I wanted to kick, but I was already at maximum capacity, so I just worked to hold my pace. When I hit the Stop button on my Garmin and looked at my time, I was astonished: 7:37.

And then I died. (But I got better!) I walked the remaining half-lap back to the start and Coach Brad asked for my time. When I told him my time, he nearly fell over. "Was that a PR for you???" he asked. Well, no. Technically, my one-mile PR is from the downhill Main Street Mile back in June (7:10). And my next best mile was the first mile of the Lincoln-Douglas 3 Mile race, which I ran in 7:31. But, as Brad pointed out, for both of those miles I was fresh. Yesterday's mile came after a grueling nearly-6-mile workout and was not downhill. So while not technically a PR, it was still an impressive effort given the circumstances.

Upon analyzing my lap splits, I was rather impressed with myself for maintaining a rather consistent pace throughout the mile. Each lap was not more than 2 seconds off 1:00. I died off a bit in the last lap and a half, but even that "death" was not a huge decrease in pace. I never fell below a 7:45 pace.

It's all well and good to look at this run data and feel proud of what I accomplished in my nearly 7-miles of running last night. But I don't want the coaches to go and get the false impression that we FASTies like to do these sorts of workouts or that we enjoy maintenance miles. Because then they'll start making up crazier and crazier workouts just to keep us "entertained", and frankly, I don't think I can handle anymore "entertainment".

I would like a nice boring workout please! How about an Easy 4 followed by an Easier 2? Or better yet, since I know the coaches love to have us do repeats, how about 4 x 800m at warm-up pace, with 2 minutes of cookie-munching recovery in between? For the core work, Coach Maggie could toss Skittles (or M&M's or *insert candy of choice*) into our mouths every time we come up for a crunch. Really, I don't know why the coaches don't seek out my ideas more often, since clearly I am chock-full of them.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go run some easy repeats with peanut butter cup recoveries....

Peace. Love. Train.