Thursday, July 16, 2009

I am such a stalker... and down the rabbithole I go

In a race or when training with a group, a "rabbit" in running is usually defined as someone a little faster than the group who the group, either intentionally or inadvertently, ends up chasing to the finish. In training groups, a rabbit in a pace group is usually bad as it can increase the speed of the group beyond the prescribed pace for the run. In a race, it can be great because it can help a runner who is picked to win to chase the rabbit and then kick it up at the end to pull out the win.

Tonight's run was not expected to go well. My training partner cancelled on me a couple hours before the run. My husband left work late and therefore I was eating dinner 15 minutes before my run started, with not much nutrition already absorbed in the bloodstream from very little eating throughout the day before that. It was a heat index of 99. The sky was darkening but it was unclear when the rain or storms would come or how much. But the forecast indicated isolated thunderstorms and my husband had seen lightning in the distance so I was afraid that if I waited for it to cool down then I'd had to cut it short due to lightning.

It was a pre-storm FURNACE out there. So hot and humid, and most of the time there was zero breeze. My legs had been feeling sluggish the last couple runs and my last run hadn't been the "speedwork" I had been hoping for.

I didn't know what goal I had for tonight's run. When I started, I quickly realized my legs felt pretty good. Ah ha, maybe I'd shoot for redemption on Tuesday's failed speedwork. But I have 9 miles to do on Saturday so maybe that's a bad idea... But I feel good and this will be such a mental boost! Okay, it's on!

But what pace for speedwork... I'll do 3 miles... I felt it out for the next couple minutes and arrived at 10:45 pace as what felt like the best goal. 3 mile repeats with a 1 minute walk break between and each mile better be 10:45 or faster.

First mile 10:43. Feeling good. Second mile I'm now weaving much more in and out of my neighborhood streets. I make a mental note that I need to check on for the elevation of this route, because this weaving helps me realize that the streets seem like pretty good hill repeats (speedwork and hill repeats, pretty stupid). But maybe the elevation is so much more major in my head because I'm doing speedwork - that's why I'll need to check.

Mile 2 is 10:41. Spot on. Towards the end of this mile I am just cooking, I'm tired, I have a spasm in my upper back (too late to realize I must have a little slumped or hunched), my left shin is developing a knot, etc etc etc. I start my 1 minute walk at the end of mile 2 and stop and stretch my left shin. I just want to quit. I'm justifying the speed in this heat as a good reason to do only 2 miles. And then a woman running passes me (there aren't that many of those in my neighborhood).

I think for a minute and take off. I'll just keep her in sight ahead of me that 100 feet. Because I quickly surmise that she's not going that much faster than my mile repeat pace. I stick to the sidewalk on the other side of the street but keep that distance and follow her. We're still in my neighborhood, I don't even care or pay attention to the fact that we go right down the street by my house (so close to home!!!), I stay on her. "Please don't freak out that my running route just happens to be exactly like yours," I'm thinking. The gnats are bad through here and I'm chewing and spitting them out. I want to keel over on the ground. But chasing that hippity hoppity bunny ahead of me is keeping me at that perfect pace!

With two minutes left in the run, I pull a u-turn and head back towards home. I finish Mile 3 in 10:45. YES!

That's three miles in a pre-storm furnace all at 10:45 or faster (goal race pace is 11:30). 3.0 miles = 32:09, a 10:43 average

Thank you, rabbit, whoever you are! And happy running to all!

1 comment:

  1. Great job Libby! I do so love to chase those rabbits. I was cracking up reading this remembering my first half marathon this past spring. I chased many bunnies... You are doing so great with your pace improvements. Thanks for posting - it keeps this running business less lonely.