Jeff Galloway has this thing he calls the "Magic Mile". From this time, he can accurately guesstimate what you would run another given distance in. The calculator over at McMillan's web site uses the same principles. It's just a little more sophisticated. Key in your time for a known distance, and not only does the calculator estimate all given race distances, it suggests paces for different run times and different lengths, even speed and tempo work.
Evidently, in endurance circles, it is customary to throw in some all out efforts during rest week to see where one "is at". I was on to coach. She's not foolin me... LOL... She snuck in 10x100 all out every 3 minutes, rather than a 10x100 time trial. A rose by any other name... What we were really excited for though was the weekend run test. I got to go to the track, warm up, then do an all out mile, a magic mile. I don't know if you'd noticed or not, but I've been sandbagging my ref tests for the last couple of years. I hadn't tried an all out mile in over three years. This did sound like fun.
With rest week in full force, it felt like a taper. I even slept like crap the night before AND got up at 5:30 AM in the morning. I needed to make it to a referee class by 9 AM, and I just didn't want to do this test in the heat of the afternoon. Boling Park was still dark as I pulled in the parking lot. The gravel path was lit up by lights, which surprised me a little, as there was a rodeo in town. The hum of the generators added an earie quality to the dawn. I parked my car by the baseball field and hiked up the hill to the track. I didn't really want to start in the dark, but I also wanted to get to my class on time.
I started running around the track in the darkness. I do my best to follow coach's advice, especially when it invovles walking :-) I warmed up easy, reigning myself in several times when my pace dropped below 9 minute miles. The bleachers I remembered from last time where still there at the end of the back straight away, covering up lanes 3-6. As daylight approached, I watched a few other runners pull into the park, although none of them joined me on the track. No one would be there to witness my pain, this day.
During the last four minutes of my warm up, I ran back to the gravel trail to hit up the port-a-potty. That's what a race mentality does to you. You have to think fast to go fast, and it scares the crap right out of you. Either you take this stuff serzly, or you don't, and if you don't, then you just might as well stay in bed. I jogged back up to the track and mentally steeled myself for what was to come. Next up on the agenda was 5x(50m hard, 50m easy). I made the mistake of glancing down at my Garmin during one of the sprints. "Good Lord", I thought to myself. To hit my dream time, I would have to maintain that pace for a mile. I timed it so that I could walk the back straight away to the bleachers and the starting line. In the blink of an eye, the sky turned from slightly dark, to slightly lightened.
On my left wrist, I reset the screen on my Garmin. All I wanted to see was time and average pace. On my right wrist, I set the Forerunner 50 to time only. Time would prove that neither mattered. With a sigh, I pressed start on the Forerunner, then the Garmin, and shot off the line around the first turn. The rush of adrenaline hit me and I felt like I was flying. My breathing was strong, my pace was strong. This was living.
Around the second turn, the reality of what I was doing settled in and I found my steady pace. My breathing was labored. I passed my starting point and made the turn before I remember to check my pace. The Garmin said 1:40. Holy crap, that was too fast, a 6:40 pace or something like that. As I turned down the front straight away, my nose decided to gunk up air intake, and I perceptably slowed down. My body so wanted to stop, to clear out the foul evil junk in my wind pipe, and walk a little. My mind almost gave in, but I fought it off. I cleared my throat and picked back up the pace. As I rounded turn two, I thought to myself, "I am not going to die. Work harder."
Lap three was an act of perseverance. I could feel my form breaking down, and when that happens, you slow down. I fought hard to keep good form, trusting that my body would carry me through. All I wanted to do was get through that third lap, cause I could do ANYTHING for 400 meters. As I passed the starting point, my body was screaming at me, but I would not let it stop. Around the turn, down the straight away, I went. I looked at my watch. I had 40 seconds to go 200 meters to come in under 7 minutes. (This is actually part of the referee test, and I can do 35 seconds or so when I'm fresh). I tried to push harder, but it just wasn't happening. I could feel my body giving up as I rounded that last turn, and my body slowed down of its own volition. This was not acceptable. I demanded my body pick up the pace, to finish strong, and I sprinted the last 40 meters to the finish line, and damn near collapsed.
Beeeeeeeep, went the Garmin, 7:19. It was spot on.
I reached down and pressed stop on the Forerunner 50. Coach wanted an accurate HR reading, and so did I. I walked about 200 meters before settling into an easy jog. By the time I had gone around the track once, it was like I had never even run a mile. My legs are so strong these days. I cut the cool down short by 5 minutes so I could leave early. When I got home, I loaded the data from my Garmin and the Forerunner into Training Center. My heart rate started at 137 and did nothing but climb until it reached 183 by the end of the run. It fluctuated a few times by one heart beat, but for the most part, was in a continual upward pattern. My max HR was 184, and the average was 176. On my run test at the beginning of this season, my max HR was 180 and the average was 175, but my pace was 8:32, over a minute slower.
Is this some kind of improvement? I think so, although I don't believe I could have held this pace for 20 minutes. I have been eating healthy, not drinking, getting plenty of rest, and I think it shows.
After showering, I headed off to my class, which went well. I am now an official assigner for the US Soccer Federation, although I have no one for whom to assign. I did manage to pick something up in class though. Either my body is just worn down, or somebody gave me the ick. For the first time in longer than I can remember, I am sick. Hopefully, its just a bad case of reflux, but it doesn't feel like it. I'm off to bed until this thing blows over.
Oh, and that magic mile, that's a 4 second PR over my magic mile test back in 2006 :-) Yea, I'm a numbers guy...