ok so this wasn't really a real race, but it sure felt like one. The idea is that there are a group of crazy runners at 6am on a tuesday morning that all decide they want to torture themselves and get together to do so. Each runner gives the pace they think they can run this 4.75 mile out and back route. Someone does the calculations to get start times for each pace so that we all end at the same time, if we were to actually stick to that pace. There was a 1.5 mile warmup and 1.5 mile cooldown as well. I am still recovering from hip bursitis so I wasn't ready for 8 miles especially with a 5 mile tempo in the middle, so I parked near the start of the tempo part and ran back towards the group until we met, then back to the start for my warmup. This was a very good idea as when we were done, I was done.
I was running an 8:45 pace, I figured this was doable, but was still not sure since I hadn't done a 5 mile tempo in months. Luckily Cindy was also doing 8:45 so i had someone to share the pain. Our coach says to push each other and to not chit chat. There was one guy ahead of us at 9 min pace or a 1:11 min head start. I'm ready to get going because I see all the speed people waiting around and don't want to get caught.
finally we get going. We start off on a slight downhill and with all the adrenaline at the 1/4 mile mark we are doing a 7:50 pace, Cindy's like "I thought it felt fast" I was like "You are a step a head of me and every time I pull even you speed up", Cindy's like "I thought you were speeding up and pulling a frank", I was like "yeah right, you are pulling a Vivian". This slows us down a bit and now we can chit chat. If you are reading this coach, ignore that last sentence ;-). We hit the 1 mile mark right on 8:45, it feel hard, and we have just started. I try to relax into the pace and just not think about it. We continue to talk and run and when we hit mile two we did 8:40, this is good as the next mile starts with a short but steep hill up to the damn dam, then a flat to coach's parents and the turn around. I see her dad is the marker and once we do around him I tell him to back up about 20 yards. I look down and see this mile we are slacking and at 9:10 pace so I pick up the pace to around 8:30 till we get back to the short hill and Cindy says something like "if you keep this pace up I'm letting you go" I told her I had to surge to get the pace back where it should be. This is the last thing I say that can be considered a real sentence. I remember saying something like, I have to say this now while my brain can still speak with logic, we then pass our coach who is still on the out part and the 3 mile mark at an 8:46 pace. I think that we still have a 3 second cushion to work with and if we can just do a 8:50 for mile 4 we will make it to the end on pace. I tell Cindy we only have 1.75 miles to go and Cindy replies with f$%k, that word will make several repeat appearances over the next 1.75 miles. After about 5 minutes I realize Cindy is no longer talking. I am thinking to myself, please leave me, please leave me so I can slow down. But since she is not talking and only speaking in expletives, I know she is in pain. I try to keep steady and not say anything that will stop us because I am ready to stop and puke, or die or both. We do mile 4 in 8:39, This was a little surprising but since I wasn't looking at my watch as much and just concentrating on keeping the pace I guess it snuck up on me. And I have to give my partner a lot of credit, just a year ago she would have stopped and or slowed but she kept up and didn't quit, even though I know she was hurting. I think she was counting as I kept hearing numbers in my head, but mostly she was just running solidly beside me.
About this time i start hearing footsteps behind us. Everytime I turn and look, nothing, nada, no one, but i keep hearing the footsteps. We pass the 1/4 mile to go sign and the guy that started after us goes by. I say Come on cindy, she says something and we pick up the pace to try to keep him in sight. We go over the last bridge and I thought the end was a 100 yards away so I start picking up the pace again, but then I see it is not over in 100, but more like 250, so I slowed a bit until I really saw the end. I didn't want to get passed again so I had to keep going. Finally the end. stopped the watch at 40:59, or an 8:41 pace. No sooner than I looked at my time then the rest started coming. Everyone looked like I felt, it was hard, but it was supposed to be hard, so mission accomplished. This is one of those workouts I will look back at and know it made a difference. Not only physically, but mentally. We will do this again at the end of June and I'm looking forward to it already. the chance to push yourself to the limit and realize that not only can you survive, but you will get better and faster is worth the pain.
Come on out and join us, you won't be disappointed :-)