I had a good run today. I’ve been struggling for a while now, especially with anything fast. Over the last two weeks, I had problems in two speed workouts. In one, up Paine Boulevard, which I’ve done many time but which is a bear of a climb, I found my quads going after about 40 seconds. I modified the run so that I ended up getting 8 hard efforts of about a minute. But even when I tried to relax and ratchet things down, boom, at 40 seconds it’d hit.

In the new, May 2011 Running Times, which has Molly Huddle on the cover and is chock-full of good stuff (my favorite being on the college club teams) but is not yet on-line, Pete Magill presents some counterintuitive workouts. One: What to do with sore quads? His answer, run really hard downhill. It’ll beat them up but the recovery will strengthen them. And you can’t do them mamby-pamby. 1500 pace.

I knew the hill I wanted. At the Rockies. Near Sleepy Hollow Road. By the underpass. So there I found myself on Saturday morning. You’d think downhill running would be easy. You’d be wrong. When you run hard, it’s, well, hard. And being a self-proclaimed lousy downhill runner, it was even harder (although doing this stuff once in a while may help on that score).

So I was pretty beat-up after the workout. I felt as though I had done a real intense bit of speedwork, but it was only 4 hard downhill runs, each taking about 68 seconds.

But that’s not the run I wanted to write about. I was reminded in another article in that Running Times, by Gordon Bakoulis (with a picture of CPTC’s Sid Howard), that Jack Daniels preaches running to your condition, i.e., run speedwork at a pace consistent with current shape. I’d been ignoring this prescription for a while, and trying to run by feel. But I’m a runner who needs guidance.

So to Scarsdale’s track I went after work. It was empty, being Passover. A bit of something, not enough to be called rain or even a drizzle. 20 minute tempo. Now I had tried this workout on this track a month or so ago and I blew up, stopping at about 3000. Today, though, instead of dreading it I was confident that if I kept things under control I’d be fine.

And I was. 5200 in 20:14, with all but the first 2 laps within a second of one another. Not a moment’s distress. One of those runs when you realize during it that you have a good one going. It was, indeed, the best bit of track work I’ve done in years.

Such ups and downs. Grete’s dead, and I think of the fleeting moments in which I raced her long ago. Somewhere I have a photo of her passing me in the rain of NY 1983 just before 24. London and Boston with spectacular results (even if I had to struggle for much of the former with out-of-sync commentary before suffering through who knows how many women finishers before we could return to the men’s race and had to cringe as to the latter as I kept hearing Tony Reavis speak of a “new world record” in an Al Michaels “do-you-believe-in-miracles” voice because Tony there can’t be a world record at Boston and you really should know that). The moment when Desiree Devila, who got an appreciation thread on LetsRun (and Patti on page 4 is Patti Catalano), quit in Boston’s final stretch (take a look at 3:07 of the video) and then decided to give it one last go and almost almost pulled it off, invoking Kara Goucher’s final lap at the 2007 Worlds 10,000 when she told herself that she’d never forgive herself were she not to give it her best and getting a bronze for the effort, in part at the expense of Kiwi Kim Smith, who went off the front from the gun yesterday but found her calf exploding in the race and displayed a stream of tears in an interview after, and I was so hoping she’d pull it off because there’s something about her crazy style and shyness that made me hope she’d pull it off and none of this causing me to think for even a moment that I wanted to run that race.

Today was the last day to enter NY. I did it yesterday. $167. Rich Temerian suggested that we wear armbands in memory of Grete. I think it a great idea.

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