Running track is one of my favorite workouts. It's full of adrenaline and pure speed, and yet also of learning to pace oneself.
I had not run track in over a year and a half. I was busy training last year for an Ironman, and there has also been the barrier of my office being far from the track.
But, the track is what has helped me go from being a 4:57 marathoner to a 4:12 marathoner, and hopefully even faster than that in the near future. I am grateful for all of my gains in running over the past couple of years, but I still want to one day run a marathon fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Recently, I made a decision: I love the track, and as I need to get faster, I need to get back to the track. Unfortunately, my workplace is in West Hills, and the Los Feliz Flyers track workout is at Caltech in Pasadena. And I have two dogs at home eager to go outside. It's a tight commute, but I make it to track by 7 pm.
There are two groups at the track: The fast group, and the TOG's (aka The Other Group), the slower group. My pace makes me one of the faster TOG's, or it makes me the caboose of the fast group. When I last ran track, I was running with the faster group. And upon returning, I thought that's where I would start again.
The first track workout in a year and a half was a bit of a disaster. The workout was 400 repeats, or one lap around the track. I nailed the first one in 1:36, and smiled at our coach Don, like "hey look at me, I haven't gotten slower, I still have it!". Then the next lap was 1:39. Then 1:42. Then 1:44. I kept falling farther and farther behind on each lap. My heart rate was approaching 190 on each lap and barely came down with the short rests between laps. I was beat! I knew I'd blown up, and ended up quitting mid-workout.
Over the past several weeks, I've been running with the TOG's. I'm still one of their faster runners, but running with that group has helped me to not go out all guns ablaze, so to speak. And, even in six weeks of track, I'm faster than I was before I started this little stint. I ran a track mile in 7:09, my fastest ever, and my brick runs (running after getting off the bike) lately have been consistently faster.
My short-term goal is to get a bit faster and join the fast group. Long-term, my goal is to qualify for the holy grail of marathons -- Boston.
Boston 2013, look out, here I come!