The Spring 2011 season of FAST kicked off last night and it was just another ho-hum night of easy jogging.
Okay, you don't really believe that, do you? It was actually a ridiculously crazy night of insane running. But would you ever expect anything less from FAST?
I arrived at our new Tuesday night location (Bradley Park) raring to go. It was great to see all my old FASTies, as well as lots of new faces. It was also great to be back outside, even though it was a bit on the chilly side. Things heated up soon enough, though; believe me.
After a brief start-of-season introduction by the coaches, we were instructed to do either a 1-mile or 2-mile warm-up. Coach Brad clarified this with "Those of you who should do the 2-mile warm-up already know you should do the 2-mile warm-up" while giving several of us very pointed looks. I guess that meant I was doing the 2-mile warm-up. And yes, I already knew that's what I should be doing.
After the warm-up, we were split into two groups. Since I was placed in the group containing all the really fast runners, I'm going to assume that that was considered the advanced group, although I hesitate to call myself advanced due to the fact that I'm not really fast. Maybe "Crazy Group" is a better name for us.
Coach Maggie led the Crazy Group in a series of dynamic warm-up moves and form drills. We all looked ridiculous, but at least we looked ridiculous together. I'm pretty sure the other group was pointing and laughing at us, but I'm not positive since I couldn't look any of them in the eye while I was doing "toy soldiers". Coach Brad then gave us our workout instructions in a conversation that went something like this:
Brad: "Okay, tonight you're going to be doing 800m repeats. This big loop here is 800m and we have it marked with spray paint. I got really happy with the spray paint; there are arrows everywhere. [SLAP comment: Just how happy did he get with the spray paint???] Between repeats you can walk or jog back to the start for recovery, taking about 2-3 minutes."
Group: *group nods in understanding*
Brad: "I want you to run them fast - about 5k pace. You have a choice between doing 4 or 6. And some of you may want to do 8 of them... Brian and Brett..." *Brad looks pointedly at Brian and Brett*
Me: "HAHAHAHAHA! Sucks to be you guys!" *I point and laugh at Brian and Brett because I am a supportive teammate*
Brad: "...and Emily" *Brad looks pointedly at me*
Me: "Wait... What?"
Brad: "Hey, you're the one running 43 mile weeks. You gotta keep up your mileage!"
Me: "Right... Damn."
And that's how I got suckered in to running 8 x 800m repeats, which, despite being only 4 miles total, is insanely difficult. Especially at 5k pace.
Moral of this story: She who laughs last has to run the long workout. (And then Coach Brad laughs last.)
The workout ended up being 7 miles total, including the warm-up and cooldown. And coming off a record 43-mile week, I felt every one of those 7 miles.
*~* begin sidebar *~*
Yes, I ran 43 miles last week, which was in fact a record mileage week for me. Why? Well, why not? No, I'm not training for anything in particular. I'm just... running. Because I can. And because I enjoy it. I have been gradually ramping up to this mileage over the last couple of months, and for the most part, I've been feeling very good. I'm planning to settle in here at about 40-45 miles per week for a while and see how my body responds. This is typically a weekly mileage associated with the hardest week of beginner marathon training programs. Indeed, the only times I have ever topped 40 miles per week in my running have been during the "tough week" of a marathon training plan. So I find myself in a wonderful position now, to be running 40+ miles per week and not feeling exhausted and drained like I typically would during marathon training. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Stay tuned!
*~* end sidebar *~*
Back to this crazy workout. Crazy 8x800's, I call it. After I ran the first 800, and was not quite able to achieve 5k pace, I knew I was in for a thorough butt-kicking. Indeed, I was not able to maintain 5k pace for all eight repeats. I came close, and was never more than about 25 seconds off, but my legs just weren't cooperating enough to hit that pace every time. It was a very difficult workout. The good news is that I didn't slow down each consecutive repeat. The better news is that my last repeat was my fastest. So, even though I didn't hit 5k pace exactly, I am still pretty happy with how I ran the workout.
After a kick-off workout like that, I am pretty nervous about what Thursday has in store for us. We will be in another new location on Thursdays: the East Peoria bike trail. This paved path is not up-and-down hilly, but has a steady gentle slope going from west to east, which will still make it a challenging place to run. And there are plenty of very large hills near the trail that I'm sure the coaches will take full advantage of. If they can find anything that competes with the Hill of Death, though, I will be pretty impressed.
Not that the coaches should interpret this as a challenge to find a new Hill of Death. Quite the contrary. The Hill of Death simply cannot be replaced, so the coaches should not even try to find a replacement. I, personally, would be quite okay with never running up a 12% grade ever again. But I know how Coaches Brad and Maggie roll. They probably have already found a new and improved hill, with something like a 236% grade. They are probably giddy with excitement about unleashing this new beast on us. Just you wait!
At least when they do, I'll know better than to laugh at the poor souls who get stuck with the longest hill workout.... because I already know I'll be one of those poor souls.
Peace. Love. Train.