This morning, I headed to the East 8th Street track to run 800s, my first track workout of the season. I hit a few bumps along the way. First, it didn't seem that my Garmin 10 had the capacity to track laps that were not miles (it does – go to Run Options -> Laps -> Lap key). Then once I got to the track and took my customary lap to look for puddles, potholes, and other obstacles, I realized that the inside, oh, 5 lanes of the first turn were totally iced over. Enterprising athletes had worn a singletrack path through the ice in lane 6, however, and it seemed like, if I were careful, I could still reasonably complete 800s if I made them more like 810s. Close enough.
I've been making a concerted effort not to work myself into too much of a panic over my workouts this season, and it’s worked out pretty well. Last weekend, for example, instead of carefully monitoring my food intake and getting to bed early only to toss and turn, thinking “oh my God, 20 miles is so far, it’s going to take forever, what if I can’t do it?,” I drank 6 beers, went to bed at midnight, and set off on my run without having gone to the bathroom (that last part I can’t recommend, truthfully, but otherwise the system worked well). I tried to harness the same carefree mindset this morning, and when I toed the line for my first 800, I thought “just run and see what happens.”
And without a tremendous amount of pain or a visit to the puke threshold, 3:13 was what happened. I recovered for 400 and tried again, repeating my track mantra in my head, because I am a supreme loser (“Long. Tall. Smooth. Strong.” Mostly I use it for the rhythm, not the words, which means that occasionally I’ll catch myself repeating “Long. Slow. Smooth. Strong.” over and over, which isn't the most motivating mantra for speed work.) 3:14. And again. 3:16.
I was feeling pretty tired, but determined not to fall off the wagon for the fourth and final 800. I hit the line and took off, when I was quickly confronted with a jogger ahead of me going in the same direction, and a walker coming towards me. And a singletrack path surrounded by ice. Sucking in to make yourself as narrow as possible while also breathing hard enough to sustain the effort of running 800s is no easy feat, but somehow I was able to squeeze by the jogger just as the walker stepped to one side to let me pass. It was like pairs ice dancing, but a threesome, with one participant being a short, overweight man in a grey sweatsuit. That I did not fall on my ass while dodging these people is a miracle, and even if I’d ran a 10 minute final 800, I would have deemed it a success. But I didn't. I ran a 3:12, the fastest of the four.
So, day one at the track is complete, my splits were right on target, and I don’t have any new injuries to show for it. That said, there is a reason why track & field is a Summer Olympic sport.
I know I should commiserate, but this makes me laugh every single time.