Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

After doing triathlons all summer, the fall half-marathon beckoned.  Compared to doing tris, packing for a road race is oddly simple....runners, shorts, a couple gels.  My nerdy triathlon checklist felt very lonely as we packed for the thanksgiving long weekend trip to Victoria.

The half would be an interesting experiment on what happens to leg speed after a summer of 70.3 training.  My PB open half marathon was set in April, at 1:27 and nearly 4 minutes faster than my previous PB.  I was also feeling under the weather earlier in the week and had taken a couple days off training, so while it was an impromptu taper I knew my health was not 100%.  Realistically I was ready to accept not setting a PB in Victoria.

On my side, however, was Friday track.  Since the beginning of August, Coach Bjoern and the LifeSport crew have on a weekly basis forced me outside my comfort zone.  Let's be clear, track sessions hurt.  They force you to push harder than you are comfortable with and teach you how to be mentally tough.  They also train you to pace and hold speed.  

To preface the rest of this blog post - I do not have a track and field background and started distance running in my late twenties.  Anything less than an eight minute mile is / was something I deemed too fast for my liking and I had long ago resigned myself to being a MOP runner.  Solid 3:30 marathoner.  Solid 1:40 half marathoner.  But could I go faster?  No way.    

4 minute kilometers are my friend, dammit!
So that being said, even a year ago, I would have laughed out loud at the ambitious race plan we set out for the Victoria half.  Go out at a 4:05 kilometer and drop the pace as the race progresses.  Good one.  Prior to 2011 I had never even cracked 42 minutes on an open 10k, never mind going out that fast on a half-marathon.

The morning brought perfect race conditions and all weather-related possible excuses were rendered useless.  I felt rested and good.  It was on.  No excuses.

And you know what?  I didn't quite make my race plan, but those track sessions really paid off.  21.2 successive kilometers at an average 4:02/km pace (6:30 mile)...and I have a new half marathon PB of 1:25:56!   Apparently Friday track does teach an old dog some new tricks!

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