Friday, January 30, 2009

An icy track workout

Here in DC we're wimps in the winter. The One couldn't believe it, for instance, when they shut down the school system earlier this week for "some ice," as he described it. He's from Chicago, by way of Hawaii with a layover in Indonesia. Winters in Chicago are ferocious.

Our running friends to the north just deal with it. They find indoor tracks to run on, indoor marathons to race, and venture out to run in minus degree temperatures.

Wednesday's track workout for my Half Marathon Training Program called for 4X1600 with 200M recovery jogs. That's at tempo pace or interval pace or race pace or something. I can never keep it straight. It translates loosely, with the gang I run with, to 7:55 miles or 1:58 laps.

Tuesday and Wednesday it snowed and sleeted and froze so the track was closed on Wednesday night. No school, remember? Track workout was cancelled. Yay!!

The cold temperature has been hanging around and putting a nice polished sheen of ice on the snow that is extant. It's slippery. So running out there violates my one rule of running--Be safe.

Runners aren't obsessive. The week was about to slip away without my track workout. So this afternoon I headed up to the W&OD Trail behind my house. My house providentially sits right on MP 7. Lessee, one mile thataway and back, and one mile thisaway and back, with a minute jog at the end of each mile, that sure sounds like the track workout to me.

Off I set eastbound. About a third of the trail was rutted with icy frozen snow fields but the rest was clear. There was no black ice because it had been above freezing all day (38 degrees). I booked on the clear parts and ran haltingly and gingerly, like the old man I am, on the clumpy parts.

I hit the first mile at 8:20, after passing the half mile marker at 4:00. I looped around on the trail for 40 seconds and then came back for the second mile. This was into a stiff wind and I covered the same terrain, with the same gingerly steps in the same places, in 8:40. This time I jogged around for 1:40 before I took off westbound.

It was hard to tell, but I think there were more ice-afflicted parts of the trail to the west. The wind seemed to have dropped though, and I had the hang of the exercise by now, breaking out of my periods of mincing little steps on the clotted parts of the trail with rapid bold strides on the long clear parts between the islands of ice. The third mile was 8:20. I jogged down the path aways, turned, and as I came back I hit the milepost at full speed, where I switched on my watch.

The wind was at my back for the last mile. I wanted to do at least one sub-8. And I did, with a 7:44 fourth mile. I jogged back to my house, having "checkmarked" in my head this week's track workout. It was a little different, but then us runners have to adapt.


Sunshine said...

Hey, how fun to find us on your links!
Hope it is OK to say that 38 degrees sounds really heavenly right now.
But also...
Congratulations for being out there.

akshaye said...

Wow... you're right ALL you guys up north are hardcore! Leaves me with no excuse not to run.

ShirleyPerly said...

Thanks for the link to my race report! Indeed, I am very impressed with how folks in Minnesota and other cold places manage to stick with their running routines during winter. Indoors, outdoors, whatever it takes, they keep running.

My husband was in DC last week and mentioned having to chip a 1/2" of ice from his windshields. I don't even know exactly what black ice is but it does not sound good. Kudos to you for getting your speedwork done.

Kelly said...

Ha. I loved the article. Being from Chicago, I TOTALLY agree with him. I heard it was FORTY degrees in DC yesterday. And his daughter is right... I only had 2 days off school EVER, and they were for the temps being -20. :)

Just_because_today said...

I applaud anyone who puts the energy into doing track especially in weather conditions such as that...Even if some of us have not run in above 20 degrees in weeks...(but no track...)

Don said...

Love it when the last mile is the best one.

Just12Finish said...

I think you're sandbagging - sounds to me like you're staying in great running shape through the cold winter months!