Thursday, September 22, 2011

What a difference 15 degrees makes

On Facebook today, Théoden asked runners to describe today's run in 5 words or less. I couldn't do it, so my summary read "What a difference 15 degrees makes (I know, that's six words, but I'm too exhausted to edit)."

On Saturday, I completed an entire half-marathon at a 7:13 pace. Today all I had to do was four tempo runs, with breaks between them, at a 7:00 pace. The cumulative mileage at tempo pace would be just 7.2 miles. That shouldn't be too hard, should it? But there was one big difference between Saturday and today: This morning was a steambath, with a temperature of 70 degrees and 100 percent humidity, while Saturday was a lovely fall-like morning, with a temperature of 55 and just enough breeze to cool you off.

After a two-mile warm-up I started into my first tempo and could tell almost immediately this wasn't going to be easy. The workout plan called for tempo runs of 22.5, 18, 13.5, and 4.5 minutes, with progressively shorter breaks between each. A 22.5-minute run at a 7:00 pace should be just over three miles. But clearly at this time of the morning, and at this level of exhaustion, I can't add. After two uphill miles at a 7:15 pace, I decided I only needed to run 5 more minutes. Uh, that would be three minutes short, but I didn't figure that out until about 30 seconds ago while I was writing this up. So in fact my first tempo was just 19:30, and my splits were 7:16, 7:14, and 6:55. Given that the first two miles were uphill, I was okay with the pace, but I wish I'd actually run this as planned. That said, I might not have finished the workout if I had! I jogged home and drank a glass of water and ate a vanilla GU. I'm not sure what I think of the GU, but at this point there was no time to dither; I'd already exceeded my planned 5-minute break by about 5 minutes.

I headed back out and warmed up for a block before taking off for an 18-minute tempo. This time I got the timing right and ran it in 6:54, 7:02, and 6:46. What a difference a primarily downhill course makes!

I had 4 minutes to rest before the next tempo, and fortunately I was at the bottom of Patrick Johnson Lane. I wouldn't have to run up the hill this time! I decided to walk the hill, then jog until my 4 minutes were up before starting up Pine Road, a gradual incline. Then I turned onto Avinger, getting a brief respite on its downhill, before the rolling hills of the greenway and the tough haul up South Street. Splits for this tempo were 6:58, 7:19.

After a bathroom break, I headed back out for my final tempo. I was adjusting my shorts on Main Street when a woman passed me. I passed her again as I started my warmup, then hit the accelerator for the final 4.5 minute tempo up Concord Road. I made it, running a 6:50 pace, then instantly slowed down for a two-mile cool down. As usual on these tempo runs, I often find the final cool-down run to be the hardest. I ended up running past my house and nearly to Robert Walker Drive before turning around and heading home. I was so spent I decided to walk for 60 seconds, just as the woman I had passed came down the hill towards me with a smug smile that seemed to say "at least I didn't have to walk."

When I finally arrived home, sopping with sweat, I was as relieved as I have ever been to finish a run. Two hours later, I'm still trying to rehydrate from this one.

Details of today's run are below.


  1. Glad it wasn't just me that hated the change in temps today Dave! My tempo workout was awful after racing great on Saturday

  2. Ah, partners in misery.

    BTW for anyone who isn't familiar with Paul's blog, he's doing a great series of posts about the Blue Ridge Relay; you should definitely check it out -- start here.