Team Rogue Race Prep w/ Track Close: Method to Steve’s Madness

After almost 5 months of training with Team Rogue, this rookie finally understands some of the method to the madness of our Coach, Steve Sisson.  He designs certain workouts, like race prep’s, to test you physically and mentally.  Today was a 25-27 mile training run with 2 sets of 4 miles at marathon goal pace (MGP), recovery on the hills of Redbud and Stratford, and miles 20 to 26 were progressively faster on the track — 2 miles at MGP, 2 at half marathon pace (HMGP) and 2 at 10k pace. As my friend Kamran said, “at least that’s the theory of the workout.” 

You might think it sounds cruel to make us run progressively down to faster paces like HMGP and 10k pace at the end of such a long run.  The mileage simulates our actual race and the combination of MGP work, hills and the track close simulate the physical and mental fatigue that you have to deal with on race day, especially at the end as you push to meet your goal (or sometimes just to keep going.)

I’ve been training for an aggressive PR in Eugene (for non-runners, that’s a personal record or personal best), trying to shave off more than 30 min. from my best marathon time and run a sub-4:00 marathon.  But as our other Coach, John Schrup, has told me, I shouldn’t think about that old PR because it isn’t really applicable anymore as I “play a whole new sport now.” 

This will be my 10th and fastest marathon.  I am certain.  I’ve had an awesome training season running alongside some of my favorite people Carolyn, Holly, Joe, Bryan, Brenda, occasionally Paul, and early on with Steph Woodruff and P. (aka Priscilla).  Over the last 6 weeks or so, we’ve been training at 3:55/3:56 paces and usually nailing them in workouts.  So, today was a test to determine what’s realistic in Eugene.

Goal paces for a 3:55 marathon are as follows:

MGP 8:58
HMGP 8:30
10k 8:05

What I actually did:

2×4 miles at MGP:
Set 1 – 8:54 pace
Set 2 –  8:56 pace

Track close:
Track MGP 1 – 8:57
Track MGP 2 – 8:59
Track HMGP 1 – 8:30
Track HMGP 2 – 8:31
Track 10k 1 – 8:35
Track 10k 2 – 8:27

My mental game is usually one of my biggest strengths in marathoning, but today I was tested.  I thought I might cut the hills on RedBud and Stratford (an option our Coach gave us if we needed it), but alongside Carolyn, I could do it.  We ran it easy and knocked out the miles fairly easily.  Then we hit the track and the real test began.   The first 2 miles at MGP were no problem.  Not easy, but not too hard either.  We were right on target.  On to 2 miles of the 30-second faster HMGP.  My legs started complaining that they were tired during these laps, but my mind could still overrule them.  I was right on target until the last lap or 2 of the last HMGP.   I started thinking ahead to how on earth I was going to cut another 25 seconds/mile and get down to 10k pace next.  I was lucky to be hanging on to HMGP for heaven’s sake.

Then it was time.  I uncharacteristically dropped an F-bomb wondering aloud how the #$%! I was going to get to 8:05?!?!  I struggled around that first lap at an 8:16 pace, but was having trouble breathing and getting upset because I couldn’t get to pace.  Steve told me to go back to HMGP for the rest of that mile, then see what I had left for the last mile.  I had a much slower second 400, then had to pull myself together and get back in rhythm for the rest of the mile.  At that point, I was close to HMGP again and stayed there til the last lap, but was counting every lap and mentally reminding myself that I could do anything for 6 laps, 5 laps, 4 laps and so on.  I pushed with everything I had left to end up a little under HMGP with my fastest mile at the end of the workout.  I was grateful it was over, not sure I could have eeked out one more lap.

It was tough, but exhilirating (once it was over!)  This is the type of workout that serious runners do.  Somehow, I crossed over into their world.  I am humbled to run with the best, even though I am at the back of the pack.  They push me to work harder and be better. 

I am confident I can run sub-4 in Eugene.  I’ll figure out an exact goal in the next few weeks but something between 3:55-3:59.  It’s scary aggressive, but Team Rogue inspires me.  Or, maybe I’ve just become a crazy enough to think I’m a badass and anything is possible. 

Special thanks to:
* All of the Team Roguer’s (Coach Steve, Scoob, Paul, Joe, Nedra, Amy, Mark, Dionn, Michael, Cindy, etc.) & support team (Trey, Chris, Ruby, the bootcamp team who cheered me on the last lap) who were at the track motivating us around that #$%! asphalt oval lap after lap.  
* Scooby, my #1 fan
* Kamran, who always makes time to help me talk through things
* Lisa, the best massage therapist around, who keeps me together
* My CrossFit Team Tres Equis (XXX) – Carrie, Steph, Emily and Coach Alex who selflessly let me bow out of our final challenge workout in order to do this race prep with Team Rogue.  I was delusional thinking I could do this on my own.

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