I'm in this crazy no-man's land of 1) not having a training plan, 2) or a running group and 3) waiting for my beginner's triathlon orientation so that I can get #1 and 2.
So I've kinda been winging it during the week, and my Saturday long-runs have alternated 6-8-10 miles, except usually it was more like 6-8-6-8-10-6-8-6 etc. With Bex having to literally plead with me to GET OUT the door last week.
So, to forestall any problems getting my ass in gear Saturday, Friday night I wrote to my good friend DC Spinster, who is the HEAD COACH for the uniquely named Reebok Wirefly National Half Marathon program (powered by D.C. Road Runners) and asked if I could run with one of his training groups Saturday morning--the slow group, whose coach I knew from the DCRR 10-mile program—sort of as a trial even though I kind of already knew I wouldn't be officially joining.
He said sure, so I left home at 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning, in order to allow plenty of time to get lost in Arlington. The group met at 8:00 and at 8:05 after driving all over creation, I had totally given up ever finding them, when I stumbled across the group just as just as they were leaving Gotta Run, the meet-up place.
I rolled down my car window and shrieked at coach J that, like the second coming, I was here! She tried to yell back the route directions: "Past the monument! Over the bridge! On to the Mall!" Which was terrific, except? There are 10,000 monuments in this city, I had no idea where I was, and there are what, four bridges?
Could I possibly catch them??
My tires screeched as I rounded the corner and pulled into a parking place. I tossed off my eight layers of outerwear and grabbed a water bottle.
Well bless my stars and garters. As a ran out of the parking lot, I saw that Coach J. had held up the entire group just for MOI!!
No turning back now!
The "slow" group was running 8 miles (perfect, see above) on a route that went by the Pentagon, over the Memorial Bridge, on to the National Mall, and back. It was a cold, crisp, gray day, slight wind, perfect for running. I love running over the Potomac River on days like this. It's peaceful at that time of the morning, you can see flocks of Canadian geese heading ... somewhere. And you feel so ... noble, with the city at your feet.
We soon separated into two groups, and then into three. I hung in there, repeating to all who would listen, "um, this is my 5k pace, people!" To which Coach J. replied, "Well, now it's your 1/2 marathon pace!"
The last two miles were tough. By now there were three people in my group, and I was hanging on for dear life to the other two runners. They knew i was struggling, but promised not to leave me because they also knew I'd never find my way back. Soon, I was dead last. I was dying. I held on to one thought: You have no money and no phone and no idea where the hell you are going. Follow those girls!
I made it back, after a final 25-yard sprint (egged on by Coach J.) in 1:25. That's an average 10:38 min. mile.
Now I know it must seem like I've forever bragging in this here little blog (well, except when I'm moaning and complaining) but: DAMN!!! I'm an 11:30 min. miler-girl! No, seriously!
Apparently, there is nothing like naked fear to speed you up. And running with a group and talking. Cuz before you know it, you're almost done and you haven't, um, actually died.
When I run long by myself? I am la-de-dah out for a stroll.
The longer the distance, the more my pace curls up into the fetal position and takes a nap.
If you want an eight mile tempo run, run with a group that is faster than you are and make sure you have no idea how to get back to the start.
That is how you do that!