Friday, February 25, 2011

FASTless FASTing

Allow me to introduce Team FAST:

(photo by official unofficial FAST photographer, Steven Blanchard)

Aren't we cute? Oh wait. I'm not in this picture. Yes, as it turns out, I was traveling for work this past Wednesday and missed out on the FAST photo session. Well this simply won't do. Let me use my excellent Photoshop skillz to rectify this situation...

*tinker tinker tinker* Voila!

There, much better. And you may be wondering why I appear to be running away from Coach Brad. Believe me, I have my reasons. Not the least of which is the maintenance mile he made us all do this week.

Now, I could've taken the easy way out and decided to skip the maintenance mile, since I wouldn't have my coaches' and team's support to get me through it. But I am a tough little FASTie. I love a good challenge. What could be more challenging than doing a maintenance mile by myself?

Truth be known, I did NOT want to do it. I was having a hard time motivating myself to just get through the workout (1 mile warm-up, then repeats of 800m, 1 mi, 800m, 1 mi, and 800m). Hard workouts are just not fun without without my FASTies. I was basically FASTing FASTlessly, and I didn't like it one bit.

But I survived the workout. And I didn't slack off knowing I would be doing a maintenance mile afterward. I gave the workout my all, running my repeats in the 8:00-8:30 pace range. And after a brief recovery and a self-pep-talk, I began my maintenance mile.

I was fully expecting this mile to be slow. Or at least slower than my last maintenance mile, which was 7:37. I would've been happy with anything under 8:00, really, given my lack of motivation and the absence of expert coaching. I knew after I started that I had gone out a little too fast. But I hung on as long as I could.

And then, like an angel from heaven, there was fellow FASTie Nikki. She was working with some clients off to the side of the track, and as I flew around the turn, I managed to convey to her that I was doing a maintenance mile by using a series of grunts and pained facial expressions. She understood immediately, which was good because I was not able to form sentences or even words at that point. And every time I ran by her, she cheered me on and gave me that mental boost I so desperately needed.

With two laps to go, I felt my energy draining rapidly. Where were my wonderful coaches to tell me to suck it up? I had no idea what my pace was or whether I was slowing down or speeding up; all I knew was that I was working very hard and I wanted to be done. The nice thing about the maintenance mile (not that anything about it is really "nice") is that it's over so quickly. The pain is temporary. And before I knew it, it was over and I was hitting the Stop button on my Garmin.

After I regained consciousness, I looked down at my Garmin and had to do a double-take because it read 7:24. 7:24? That's a 13-second improvement over my last maintenance mile! I sure wasn't expecting that.

I think I would've been pretty bummed if nobody was around to celebrate with me. Fortunately, Nikki was there to give me a FASTie high five and act impressed with my mile time.

Upon reviewing my lap splits from my mile, I found that I really died off in the last 1/4 mile. So as I suspected, I started off a wee bit fast. Or maybe that's the best way to run a maintenance mile? I guess I'm not really sure. I like to run negative splits for long distances, but maybe that's not the best approach for short distances. Clearly, in this case, going out fast worked well for me overall.

There is just one more session of FAST left for the 2010-2011 Winter season, and I can't imagine how the coaches are going to top the last two crazy workouts we've had. I'm not sure they can. But I've been wrong about that before. And frankly, I'm scared.

*runs away from Coach Brad even faster than depicted above*

Peace. Love. Train.

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