Sunday, January 20, 2008

Best. Run. Ever.

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!


peter said...

So that's the secret to running faster, running scared! If you had carried a fare card you could have gone to Foggy Bottom and then Metroed to Pentagon City after transfering at Rosslyn. Umm, maybe it's faster to run. Those roads are a mess down there around Pentagon Row, with only two ways that I know of to get past those elevated highways down there that hem in the Potomac running trails.

Way to run a fast pace! Coach J was nice to wait for you. Thanks for the coffee afterwards.

Anne said...

That sounds like quite the compassionate and inspirational group.

Neese said...

omg that's so cool, a sub 11 for 8 miles! Jeanne!! You've found the key for sure! :o)

Juls said...

Great job keeping up with them. It sounds like you're making lots of progress.

Sunshine said...

Interesting places to run!!
Thanks for writing.

BettyBetty said...

Similar to when I ride in the late afternoon and after many miles suddenly realize it is getting really dark and I am still a gazzillion miles from the car---on country roads without lights - amazing how fast you can ride when panic sets in

Good effort!

Susan said...

I thought that would happen to me... last Saturday... but the exact opposite happened!

I'm glad you were successful.

David said...

Those geese dropped bird poop all over my yard on their way to Lake Okeechobee. Thanks....

Yes, we did enjoy the same driven runs this weekend. I have to run in front of fasties or else I drop off the pace completely.

LBTEPA said...


Rainmaker said...

Very nice! I also love running across the Potomac into the city. It always feels so cool to run past all of the monuments.

Congrats on kicking butt during your run - it's all about hanging on for dear life. That's when the best times occur.

Vickie said...

Yes, I've often said running scared makes you run faster. Try running at night with a group. Out in the country. Where there are God knows what wild animals waiting to get you! You soon find you can run like the wind. That is a great time by the way! I need to find a group to hang with!

Mrs. Duffy said...

That's fantastic... 11:30 is my 10k pace, so 8 miles at 10:38? you rock! I need a group like that... :)

Just12Finish said...

Good for you!

21stCenturyMom said...

Correction - you WERE an 11:30 min mile runner. You are no more.

I went running in Dec at night by myself and ended up running 4.85 miles at a 10 minute pace. Fear is a beautiful thing sometimes.

Dana said...

I found out that secret(running scared) too when I had to do a 5mile tempo run by my lonesome this past Fri. a.m. at o'dark thirty!

IHateToast said...

did you see little miss sunshine because i had the scene with the van and the family trying to find the hotel in my mind.

i also sort of saw you doing olive's dance once you had the best run ever.

Judi said...

Good job!!! That running group sounds like a nice bunch of people.

warriorwoman said...

Great post - I'm running with a group next week (first time) and I can imagine trying to summon the breath to shout "this is my 100m pace you guys!"

Rae said...

Great job!!! You are going to blow out some PRs this year!