I'm now prepping for two big races -- the Peachtree 10K in Atlanta July 4, and the Grandfather Mountain Marathon July 13. My goal for Peachtree is to break 40 minutes despite the heat, and my goal for Grandfather is simply to survive.
So for Grandfather I'm running a lot of hills, running a lot in the heat, and running a lot of mileage.
For Atlanta I'm running a lot in the heat, doing a lot of speed work, and running a lot of mileage.
Honestly, the hills won't hurt my Atlanta training and the speed work won't hurt my Grandfather training, so I'm really doing both.
This week was fairly typical: On Tuesday I needed some speed work. On my calendar was a time-based workout: 2 minutes fast, 2 minutes slow, then 1 minute fast, one minute slow, then 30 seconds fast, 30 seconds slow, repeated 8 times. But Chas had a different plan: 400 meters fast, then 400 slow, 200 fast, and 200 slow, repeated 6-8 times. This seemed close enough, so I decided to work with Chas instead of going it alone. Claire and her friend Chad also decided to join in.
Chas wanted to hit the 400s in around 82 seconds, and the 200s as fast as possible. It was a warm morning, quite humid, but not stiflingly hot. Here are my splits:
I forgot to hit "lap" so I didn't get a time for that first 400, but everything else was pretty consistent. Ultimately I'd like to get those 400s under 80 seconds, to match my goal of hitting a sub-5:00 1500 (sub 5:20 mile), but I feel like that's a solid workout in the heat.
Then today I had another speed workout planned (some 400s, plus 5 X 1,000 meters), but no one to run with -- everyone else, it seemed, had either an easy run or a tempo planned. But the Charlotte Running Club has a group that runs from the YMCA downtown every Thursday, and since they're a lot faster than me, I figured their "easy" run would basically be a tempo run for me. Claire decided to hop in on this run as well.
When I woke up at 5:10 a.m., I looked at my thermometer, and it read 77 degrees. Really? It's still dark and the temperature was already 77? I didn't even want to know how humid it was. I wondered if this was really such a great plan -- drive 20 miles just to run 9 miles? But Claire needed a ride, so I was pretty much fully committed anyways.
I showed up at the Y and saw lots of young, skinny guys that I vaguely recognized from Facebook. They all looked like they could knock out 80-second 400s in their sleep. We took off, with Claire in the lead, and soon were knocking off 7:15-and-faster miles. A 7:15 pace isn't really too bad for me in good conditions. For a while I was even thinking of that as my marathon pace. But it was hot and humid, and after 4 or 5 miles, the pace had quickened to 6:58. I was starting to drop off the back of the pack, and I realized I had no idea how to get back to the Y. That was decent motivation for me to not completely phone in the rest of the workout, so I did my best to hang with the group, which only seemed to be running faster. Finally at around 7 miles I knew I could no longer keep up -- but fortunately I now could figure out how to get back to the Y, so I decided to slow down. I ran mile 8 in a 7:40 pace.
Thankfully, about this point, Claire decided to wait for me and she and I ran the final mile at an 8:00 pace. Overall I was pretty happy with the run -- I had averaged 7:23 over 9 miles in very hot and humid conditions, and the first 7 miles averaged about a 7:15 pace. I still need to improve -- in Atlanta I'm hoping to run a 6:26 pace -- but I think I'm still not fully adapted to the summer heat.
After making a lame joke ("I needed to make sure Claire didn't get lost"), I chatted with the CRC guys, who were quite friendly and unconcerned with how much my run had sucked compared to theirs.
Not an ideal week, but not terrible. I've still got quite a ways to go, though -- this is a 70-mile week, and I've only completed 32, with 3 days left. I'm going to run 4 more this evening, 6 tomorrow, then 10 on Saturday and 18 (!) on Sunday. Wish me luck!
Details of today's workout are below.