I’m not fast.
Here I am, all boot-camp-tough, and I can still barely eek out a sub-seven mile. Actually, I’m not even sure I *can* eek out a sub-seven mile because my stop-watch went on the fritz about 200m from the finish. I was out of town for the actual test last Friday so I had to go it alone. I was watching the clock like a hawk and I’m pretty sure I was on pace for a sub-seven but the reality is that we’ll never know for sure.
When the watch blanked out I was so pissed I almost stopped running. Almost.
It hurt so much I cursed. I’d run so hard I wanted to vomit. All these are signs that I put in a good effort and gave it my all and I suppose I should be proud but… enough is enough. I need 6:30. Or 6:40 at least. I’d take 6:40.
What’s my point? My point is that by the end of the summer I’m going to hit 6:30 come hell or high-water. And there is only one way to get faster – you gotta train faster.
I would rather run ten miles than do a track workout. Running a slow or moderate pace is like unimaginable bliss to me. I get euphoric. My muscles sing. My head floats away. I detach from the world. I feel at One.
(Yes, I *am* getting all zen on your ass, by the way.)
Running a fast track workout is like the last scene in Braveheart when they are yanking out Mel’s intestines. Except you don’t yell, “FREEDOM!!!” because you are too busy vomiting into the infield inbetween intervals. It hurts. It hurts so bad it seems impossible.
I had forgotten all of this, of course, and I strolled up to the track this afternoon with my cute little nano strapped to my bicep thinking I was going to have a sweet little track workout and re-introduce myself to what it is to actually have speed. As I approached the track I noticed a large group of kids pretending to stretch out while they intermittently chased each other and/or gossiped loudly. They looked like 6th, 7th and 8th graders.
My stomach turned.
And that’s when I realized that I am still afraid of kids. Why? Kids (ok, ok, I’ll qualify this)… adolescent kids are monsters. MONSTERS. No, really. I am not exaggerating here. They are and you know it. Don’t even try to argue.
Everyone had it rough in middle school – I realize this. But I was especially tortured during those formative years. I had braces, glasses and a perm. I played flute in the band. I got straight A’s. The reason I had braces was because I had a horrific overbite and buck teeth. We were on a very tight budget and I didn’t have anything that could remotely be considered cool. Oh, and I was hopelessly flat-chested (and had not yet realized what a lovely blessing this actually was). You see where I’m going with this?
I was tormented. Ruthlessly.
So here I am. I’m almost 30 years old and I think I’m some kind of boot camp bad-ass. I come strolling up to the track only to discover that my inner 12-year-old is still there and her heart is beating really fast because she’s freaking terrified.
Luckily, my inner-almost-30-year-old took control of the situation and forced the feet to place themselves one in front of another until several laps had been completed. If the Scary Kids were talking smack then I couldn’t hear them through my headphones which was for the best since they were really the least of my worries.
After a good one-mile warm-up I did 6 100 meter sprint intervals. Sprint 100m, walk 100m, etc. As I exploded into the first sprint my lungs and legs reacted with equal horror and I suddenly realized that the road to my 6:30 mile is going to be long (very long) and painful (very painful). In all honesty, I’d intended to move from 100m sprints to do three 200m sprints and then to one 400m “sprint” (you can’t technically sprint 400m but whatever). But at the end of my first set of intervals I found that I was absolutely and completely dead. Cyclists call it “popping” or “blowing up”.
I forced a cool-down lap out of my shell-shocked body and sat in my car trying to make sense of what had just happened. Some part of me thought I should be able to just knock out a track workout despite the fact that I haven’t done interval training in well over, what, 8 years? I guess we’re all prone to delusions sometimes.
Sometimes our best efforts are an exercise in humility. I’ll take that and run with it. Literally. And fast.
Reality Check #1 is complete. Nothing comes for free. Prepare for maximum suffering.