Friday, April 06, 2012

A temperate tempo PR (RRR #1)

(results) The workout for this weekend was a 5-mile tempo run, so I decided to do it at the Red Rooster Ramble on Thursday night. I really like the Ramble -- a quick look at my race results shows that I had done it 30 times before this week -- and I can't think of a better place to do a tempo run. I am familiar with the course, and I know the mile markers are accurate.

I set the course record in 2010 and 2011, so I wanted to do it in 2012, also. I figured that I might as well do it in RRR #1, as long as I had to do a tempo anyway. So I tentatively planned to run under 30:18 as long as I felt okay.

The temperature was perfect, low 40s, and while there was some wind, it wasn't that bad (and it's a loop course), so it was a good day for an attempt. In 2010 I made my attempt on a hot, humid evening, and while I succeeded that day, it was extremely hard on my body.

The red rooster and me

The first 100 meters or so of the course have huge puddles and deep potholes. It was okay. I got into third position behind Haynes. Another guy (Justin) was just behind me, and he passed me at about 3/4 mile; I drafted off him for about 10 seconds and then let him go.

Time at the mile: 5:45. Wow! That was faster than I expected. My goal pace was 6:00-6:10. So I decided to just settle in and see what happened. The second mile has a bit of a hill, and my time at 2 miles was 11:45 for a 6:00 second mile. This was exactly what I wanted.

The third mile felt harder. I was wondering if my quick first mile would lead to catastrophic failure at some point of the race, and was afraid that it might be happening in mile 3. Nope! Time at 3 miles was 17:36, for a 5:51. Maybe it felt harder because I was running 9 seconds per mile faster!

At this point, I had a decision to make.

I could slow down to 6:20 pace, jog it in and break the course record by only a tiny bit, so that it would be easier for me to break again later. This is what I would do (and what I have actually done) if I didn't care about the race, only about winning prizes.

Alternatively, I could keep up running hard, and see how much I was capable of breaking the course record by. I respect the Red Rooster Ramble, and I want to give it a good, honest effort. The quality of the course record should reflect the quality of the race, which is very high.

Also, let's remember that I was supposed to be doing a 5-mile tempo run (not a 3-mile tempo + 2-mile jog), and I was on PR pace for 5 miles, and not PR pace by a little, either -- my PR was 30:09.

So I kept the pressure on, not straining, but just keeping the same effort, and came through 4 miles in 23:34 (5:58, and a 4-mile PR) and then kicked in the last half mile, finishing the race in 29:23.

I was thrilled. Thrilled! I just broke my 5-mile PR by over 40 seconds, in a solo effort, without having to push like it was a race. This is an extremely good sign for track season, I would think.

Why the breakthrough? I've been doing hard track workouts, certainly. I also have been running high mileage (around 80). I have also been doing my training runs faster (under 7:30 pace). All these probably contributed.

I intend to keep training hard and stay healthy, and I can't wait for outdoor track!

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