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Cruise Control

September 16, 2008

Finally found it today during my tempo run. After several days of tough runs, I wasn’t looking forward to trying to succeed at what my training schedule called for: running 6 miles at a 9:08 pace in 77 degrees with 90% humidity. After complaining about running in stiff 20mph winds, at least today that was no problem–the air was obligingly still.

Set out with the left knee refusing to feel good about the program; walked longer than usual to warm up. Set out for my warm-up mile and felt like the six-mile race pace segment might not happen. Started planning for alternatives. So you run them like intervals, I told myself, but I knew that would be cheating, and I knew that next week’s interval run calls for 10 miles and I wanted to save the fun for that. I also knew that true intervals would call me to run the speed intervals at an even faster pace, and thought that was pretty close to insane.

In the end, as soon as I started pacing myself at race pace, I actually felt pretty good*. Unlike my last tempo run, I didn’t feel like I was struggling to feel on pace. I knew when I was picking up the pace; knew when I was lagging behind because of fatigue or traffic timing issues. Though at the start of the run I was tired and worrying about my endurance, by mile three of the tempo segment I knew I was pacing myself well enough for a finish, and by mile four I knew I was pacing well enough even for a strong finish. In the end, I managed negative splits and an overall 8:54 average: 9:08, 9:05, 8:56, 8:55, 8:46, 8:29.

*which is not to say I wasn’t working hard, as evidenced by the fact that, nearing mile 5, I scared a lady walker who heard my controlled-locomotive breathing and thought, I guess, that I was a heavy breather on the loose, coming to snatch her from the safety of the sidewalk. Not an altogether crazy thought since when I came upon her on her morning constitutional at 6:10 or so it was still pretty dark.

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