Intervals: on foot & on wheels

Part one: intervals on foot

Yesterday I had the most mentally easy workout ever. If you came here to sympathize with someone complaining about mentally challenging workouts, you did not come to the right place. However, perhaps some of the mental and physical stamina that was mysteriously bestowed upon me at 6 PM yesterday will rub off on you.

The workout: 2 sets of 6 x 1/3 mile (or something like 533 meters).

I got a late start, but managed to warm up for 11:12 and not miss the start. My legs were surprisingly peppy for having ran over 15 miles two days prior (what???). It was also SHORTS weather, which made them, if not me in general, a bit giddy. As an aside, I saw this on my computer before I left:

ImageThis number obviously meant I was going to wear this:

(pretend the shirt is green, then you’ve got a perfect picture)

BECAUSE IT WAS WARM. I got several comments throughout the workout on my choice of attire, but I never regretted it. I was sweating and comfortable! Moving on….

I wasn’t sure exactly how fast I wanted to go. Coach of the week Mike suggested “10k pace.” I was wishing we were doing longer intervals before we started, but oh well. The first six (with 90 seconds rest):

2:06 2:00 2:00 1:59 1:59 1:59

We had about five minutes rest after the first set, during which I jogged around a little to stay loose. The next set I averaged a little slower, because I was babying my Achilles slightly. Translation: I felt something short of normal and freaked out inside, slowing down. I realized it felt tight-ish when we had three intervals to go, and decided to just assess the situation after each one. It never actually hurt at all, so I completed the workout:

2:02 2:00 2:03 2:03 2:01 1:58

On my cooldown my Achilles was definitely noticeable, but as soon as I stopped running I felt nothing – no throbbing or anything. I iced it once I was home and luckily felt nothing the entire next day (today)! Phew. Still keeping an eye on it, keeping true to the philosophy I mentioned in my last post.

Luckily this has never been a problem for me…here’s to hoping I don’t say “again” and “Achilles” in the same sentence ever.

So, this workout was, dare I say it, easy. Did I push myself? Yes. Did I do my best? Yes. Why do I say it was easy? Well, we did twelve intervals. I said ten was a big number when we did hill repeats last week. Twelve is a bigger number! When I did 12×400 workouts on the track in high school and college, at the same pace, those were hard. I would be anxious about them all day, and halfway through, I thought I would never finish. Primarily, this can be attributed to the fact that there were eleven people at the workout! That is a great turnout! I’ve heard stories about the days when there were thirty runners at PI workouts, but that definitely hasn’t been the case in the past year I’ve been with the group! We were lucky to have half that number in the summer. I think it’s contagious – as Brennan said in her last post (which made me so happy!), these Tuesday workouts have become something fun to look forward to! It’s easy to wake up and do an easy run in the daylight, but it’s a lot harder to wait all day until it gets dark and cold and head out to an obscure location to do a hard workout. It is ten times easier when you have ten people waiting for you! It’s the little things that make it even easier too – like counting down to the next interval hoping someone can get his warmup pants off in time, or joking about me wearing shorts (it was weather-appropriate, trust me).

Another thing I was thinking about that might contribute to this new feeling of mental invincibility: compared to what I dealt with mentally and physically in college for the past four years, a pain-free, tough, long workout is a treat. In fact, it’s exactly what I wanted for all that time.

Part two: intervals on wheels

I have odd days off, and this week, after an exhausting, work-heavy Thursday-Sunday, I had a Tuesday/Wednesday weekend of sorts. Since I was definitely cross-training after my Achilles paranoia Tuesday night, I was about to set off to ride to the gym and back, with some weights and other things in the middle, but then I saw that our sister store in Westfield was hosting a cycle class with the Central Jersey Tri Club at 7:15 PM. Now, at the time, that was several hours away, but I had time-insensitive things to do and could wait. I thought it would be a fun experience! Read: I need all the biking help I can get before tri season starts.

So here’s the deal. I have a bike. I spent some money on it. I bought it in June 2011. It is a hybrid, however, because I couldn’t (and still can’t) afford a road bike. I bought thinner tires/tubes and a bike speedometer this past summer in an effort to make it as fast as possible. That was after the NJ State Tri, in which I placed fifth in my age group. I was pretty frustrated looking at my bike time compared to everyone else’s, especially when I looked at their run times. When I was just running, there were no advantages like that – the fastest person wins! End of story. Triathlons…not so much. Half of biking seems to be how strong of a cyclist you are, the other is the kind of bike you have, among things like cycling shoes/clipping in, aerobars, etc. Anyway, I’ve got swimming down – I know my strengths and weaknesses and I enjoy working on them. Of course I’ve got running under control. I avoid biking like the plague. It;s like a language I don’t understand, and a punishment for being injured but still wanting to sweat outside. I’m grateful for my bike, and having biking be a cross-training option for me, yes. But there are so many complicated things I don’t understand and I should to become a better triathlete. So, I drove all the way up the Parkway for that class.

The scene before I arrived, apparently. This is probably a good thing, despite the  fact that I wore a pretty sweet tank top, just saying. I stationed myself on the far end of this line of bikes.
The scene before I arrived, apparently. This is probably a good thing, despite the fact that I wore a pretty sweet tank top, just saying. I stationed myself on the far end of this line of bikes, next to the guy in yellow.

It was snowing. I drove painfully slow because I’m a passive driver. I was a little late. A guy, who later introduced himself as the President of the Tri Club, helped me set up my bike on my mag trainer. There was loud music playing, and the woman leading the class seemed to be losing her voice. It took me awhile to get de-frazzled and into the rhythm. I had never thought about gears as being “front” and “back” – obviously both were in the back! Wait what? RPMs? I’m not going to count, am I supposed to guess? Am I supposed to be familiar with what 70 RPM versus 90 feels like? I just watched the instructor’s leg speed and adjusted from there. Brought me back to conducting VO2 max tests in the Health & Exercise Science lab in college…starting at 50 RPM, etc….”Take it to the big wheel!” I admit I looked back to check at first. Of course, the 3rd gear on the left side is the big wheel! Was there a tutorial in the few minutes I missed? Why doesn’t my speedometer work? Oh, the magnet is on the front wheel and it’s stationary – fail. The worst was when she was prepping us for a 30-second sprint and I thought it had already started…you can imagine my surprise when she said, “go!” That was a hard 50-second interval….

I did get the hang of it after not too long. At least we weren’t actually moving. I would’ve been far behind. Probably on the ground, from trying to figure out where the big wheel was. We stretched afterwards, a familiar activity! I am a good stretcher.

Should I have done a nice easy recovery bike ride outside today? Probably…I’m going to be pretty sore from two days of intervals, regardless of if they were run or rode! But I’m glad I went…I learned a lot. (My Achilles felt fine, by the way!) I also got to see fellow RunCo shoenerd, Steve!

Steve riding my bike around the store....
Steve riding my bike around the store….

On the ride home it was snowing harder. I realized…I like snow! It’s so pretty! Who am I this week?! Up next: special Valentine’s Day-meets-running post, and the moment of truth:  the multiple uses for Styrofoam!


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