If I randomly decide to browse back through my workouts or even through this blog, a common theme in my running becomes pretty obvious: I run faster than I should in every situation except races. Take the workout I did Friday, for example. The plan was to do 4 x [6 minutes @ 10K pace, 4 minutes rest]. I calculated the pace per lap it would take me to run 7:00 miles (52 seconds) figuring that was close enough to 10K pace, even though the last 10K I ran I ran 7:30 pace. Whatever. Anyway, take a guess as to what my first lap was? 48. And this continued throughout the entire workout. My first interval was ~6:20 pace, the second interval I actually finished a mile in 6:05 (yeah...I don't know either.), and finally the last couple I was getting tired (most likely after I, you know, decided to run a 6:05 mile in a workout) and ended up around 6:40 pace...STILL faster than planned. Something similar happened completely by accident today on the long run...my legs felt horrible for some reason and of course we were running through the hills of the Arb. I felt like death most of the time, but I forced myself to finish the 10 (actually, it ended up being 11.4) miles I was supposed to run. I got home and mapped it out. Turns out the pace was 7:39. Uh, no WONDER my legs felt like crap!
Anyway, the bottom line is this: I don't think there's been a workout all season where I haven't been way, way under the pace that I was 'supposed' to be at, and yet it doesn't seem to be showing up in my races. Why? I realize that I don't exactly take my easy days easy either, but it's not like I'm putting in an extreme effort to run hard - 7:30 pace just happens. So I don't know if its a mental thing where I just completely psyche myself out into how much a race is going to hurt just because its a race, or what, but something tells me that I should be racing better than I have been. Not that I had a bad indoor season by any means, but I feel like I should be able to do more, to have that breakthrough and be able to run times I'm consistently happy with. And it seems to me that if running these workouts at these paces isn't hurting me or trashing my legs, then I might as well do them that way, right? How can pushing yourself harder in a workout possibly be a bad thing?
This seems to be occurring more in the past few months than it ever has in my life. I'm flying through workouts at paces that I never would have been able to run in the past, and I feel like I'm not putting in any more effort. I finish workout feeling exhausted, but not dead. Does that mean I'm finally doing something right? I hope so. Maybe this means that distance - real long distance - is where I belong. Scary.
And now, 2 completely non-running related items:
NCAA Tourney - the time of the year when I decide I care about college bball outside of the Badgers. The 1st round game was INCREDIBLE, and beating FSU when everyone said we shouldn't have even made the tournament was pretty sweet. It's too bad we lost today, things kind of fell apart at the end, but we still played a good game and definitely proved we belonged. And I actually picked Xavier to go to the Final 4...so that kind of works out for my bracket, I suppose. I mean, there is a case of beer riding on it for me, which would be excellent. :P
I also just randomly wanted to reminisce about the awful day I had at work on Friday. I work at a dog daycare/hotel (yes, a ridiculous concept, but seriously, I love my job). So I was working the morning shift in the medium sized dog park, and from the very beginning, things were bad. This dog named Max was just being a terror, almost starting fights with everyone, and there were all sorts of other random minor problems with humping and dogs taking cheap shots and yeah...general things that you can't even understand how annoying they are until you're alone and in charge of 26 dogs. Did I mention there were 26 dogs when there were supposed to be 18? Fabulous. So finally, after about 4 hours, they switched Max to the big dog play park...I was soooo happy that things were finally going to calm down...except not. No sooner had he left then a freaking DOG FIGHT breaks out between these 2 dogs, and I have to try to rip them apart. So I had to deal with all that lovely drama, and in the meantime all of these dogs are just barking obnoxiously at me for no reason, always fun. So finally, it's time to leave, and I couldn't be happier to be going home...when all of a sudden I notice one of the dogs is bleeding, from what turns out to be a puncture wound under its eye. And I have NO IDEA what happened since this dog wasn't doing anything all day. So it was just absurd, and I just wanted to cry, and in the whole 10 months I've worked there, this was by far the worst day...ever. Although I guess, I did go home, take a nap, and then do the ridiculous workout I was talking about. So the day wasn't a total waste.
Anyway, outdoor starts on Saturday! We're racing at Wisconsin Lutheran and I think I am running the 5K...which might be the most ridiculous thing I've ever done. I obviously would rather steeple but since a) it's supposed to be a high of 43 and raining, and b) I haven't gone near a steeple barrier, let alone the water jump yet this season, I feel like the chances of running a bad race and/or injuring myself are pretty high...so that might just have to wait. And in the meantime, I guess I'll shoot for a 5K PR. Oh dear.