On Monday, my schedule said 2 x 1600 at Yasso pace (7:10 min/mi). “EEE-ZZEEE PEAS-Y,” I thought. There’s only TWO of those. That’s a SMALL NUMBER! (Clearly, if you want to hide bad news or difficult ideas from me, position them after small, easy to swallow tasks.)
My toe pain had worried me on Sunday, but I was determined to push myself through and see how things felt. I also wanted to make sure the pain wasn’t coming from my shoes, or something more easily fixed. The weather was decent, so I treated myself with a run to/from the gym as my warm-up/cool-down, and did my actual speed work on the treadmill. While I figured I might be a littttle warm at the gym in a light long-sleeve and capris, it was like 40 and I was concerned about being freezing on the way to/from the gym. (FORESHADOWING ALERT)
The gym was packed. I got stuck using one of their older treadmills, and the resistance felt unusually high (even in the 400m jog I did to round out my warm-up). “Huh,” I wondered. “Maybe gravity was heavier in 1987 when they built this treadmill?” I dutifully kept the incline at 1.0, despite feeling the burn a little more easily than I would have liked. I cranked the volume on “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and proceeded to press the “speed+” button more times than I would have liked.
I got about halfway through the first interval, and I was over-heating and feeling awful. (At multiple times during these intervals, I contemplated removing my shirt. In a gym packed with people who managed to keep their shirts on. That’s how hot I was.) I reduced the speed for a minute or so, picked it back up, and then increased it to compensate for the reduction. Same deal with the second interval. although this time I made it 3/4 of the way through before I did the reduce/resume/react dance of the first. At some point in the first interval, I also lowed the incline to 0.5 and then 0. “Screw you, 1987 gravity!” I also pressed repeat on Leroy Brown like four times. I was like a really sweaty, obsessive-compulsive hamster on my wheel, aggressively pressing buttons and drinking out of my little hamster bottle.
My treadmill faced the glass wall that separates the gym from the basketball court, and a group of guys had been standing right in front of me as they waited to jump into a pick-up game. One of the guys and I caught eyes as I desperately pounded on the “speed-” button following my final interval, sweating profusely. I can only imagine that I was giving some serious race face, because he pumped his fist, pointed at my feet, gave me a “WOO!”, and pumped his fist again. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself and give him a reciprocal fist pump.
Despite not quite hitting either of my mile repeats (I came really close to hitting the first, and maybe 20 seconds slower on the second?), I felt really good. In the past, I might have taken a similar piece of humble pie and thrown it in the trash. (Who wants to eat that? Gimme some lemon meringue, please.) Whether it was the lack of toe pain, or the random fist pumps, I washed down that serving of humble pie with the sweet realization that perseverance breeds success, and I was more motivated than ever to train my little heart out. Plus, I found myself thinking things like “Man, compared to those 7:10 min/miles, my race pace IS SO EASY.” Muahah. I’m an idiot.
That being said, mad respect for my speedy friends that regularly maintain a 7:10 pace for a full 26.2. You all have robot legs, as far as I’m concerned.
- What keeps you motivated and pushing through the hard stuff?
- Do you have a repeat song or personal mantra that you mutter under your breath?
- Are you the fist-pumping dude with the long braids and black Bulls t-shirt? If so, I owe you a cookie.