In refining Lagat's training, Li conferred with his mentors. "I've had several," he says. "Coach Chaplin, of course. Bill Dellinger at Oregon was very generous with me. I have a monthly lunch with coach Joe Vigil (the former coach of Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor). I sat with Bob Larsen of UCLA at the Mt. SAC Relays and shared my puzzlement with athletes in general. My question was, where is the correlation between great interval workouts and racing well? Because a lot of guys do one but not the other. He said he had found tempo runs helping his guys. I tried it, and it helped mine." It sure helped Lagat. Tempo running is sustaining a pace near the edge of one's aerobic capacity, not as hard as racing, in a zone around 90 percent of maximum heart rate. Lagat would become famous for doing tempo runs of 5000 meters or longer on the trails.
I have sometimes had the problem of running harder in workouts than in races, so I felt that this tempo strategy could work for me. Red Rooster Ramble to the rescue!
Sarah and I biked 10 miles to the start of the race, mostly along the bike path. There was a stiff headwind and it was all I could do to go about 14 mph (the bike path has mile markers, and we were going 4:00-4:20 per mile). We managed to get there and sign up and get to the starting line by 6:30, but they didn't start the race until 6:40, so we were there in plenty of time.
When the gun went off, a guy in white took off like a rocket, Alan was behind him, and even with a conservative start I found myself very quickly in third place. I soon realized why when I got to the mile mark in exactly 6:00! I was planning for this to be a tempo run, so I was trying to run just 6:30 per mile, and 6:00 was thusly a little over-excited. I tried to slow down for the next few miles and hit miles 3 and 4 right on pace. In any case, I ran alone for the rest of the race, with no one in sight ahead or behind me even on the long straight stretches, with mile splits of 6:00, 6:17, 6:27, 6:32, 6:11. My right foot fell asleep for the last mile or two and didn't really improve much on the cool-down, but I attribute it to the biking because Sarah said the same thing happened to her.
Alan and the guy in the white shirt tied for first (!) in a course record (!) and I was third overall. Sarah ran a PR! After eating some pizza, Sarah and I took the RIPTA -- my first time on the bus! free with the Brown ID! it really works! -- back to Brown.