The Fortius-coached track workouts are starting to show dividends. But in a way I wouldn't quite expect. After this morning's LA Tri Club "Chicken of the Sea" swim, I took off on a two-hour run where the goal was to negative split on an out-and-back course. I managed to do so by seven minutes while maintaining a steady pace throughout the 12 miles from Marina del Rey to Playa del Rey and back. My success didn't necessarily come from overdoing it on the latter part of the run. Instead, I was able to cover a little more ground on the first half while at a slightly lower heart-rate than usual. This seems to be where the weekly track workouts have started to pay off, though I would have expected to see an increase in speed rather than a decrease in heart rate-per-mile run.
Richard and Ann joined me this morning and both noted that I seemed to be moving at a more efficient, relaxed pace. My arms were doing more work and propelling me forward while I wasn't exerting as much energy in the lower heart-rates to maintain a 9:00 pace. This was encouraging news, and I wouldn't have noticed it had it not been for them. That's one of the many perks of training with friends. I wouldn't be quite so lucky for the entire run as the couple had a different training schedule and turned back at the 45-minute mark. That left me 1:15 to remain mentally occupied sans music.
To counter the solo Sunday doldrums, I chose to run a different route, past the bridge at Ballona Creek and onto the beach path in Playa. At this point, I'll do just about anything to keep my brain occupied and not feeling like I'm on a mental hamster wheel where every training weekend starts to feel the same.
I suppose it's these very mental games in practice that allow me to persevere on race day -- when I need to coax myself forward instead of pausing for breaks.
The tempo part of my run started off great with a few sub 8:30 miles but once again I hit a wall just after the 10th mile where my pace dropped, my heart rate rose and my legs tightened. I walked up the few (small) hills on the return trip to the marina.
Overall, the lesson I learned today was that progress doesn't always come from the expected or obvious source. Sometimes it takes others to point it out to you. Other times, the Garmin watch data can indicate momentum that might otherwise get missed.
Still, progress is progress, and I'm not complaining.
97 days and counting.