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(Almost) Feel Like a Teen Again

As I mentioned in previous entries, I have gone back to my roots, literally!  Since November 2009 I have raced four trail races – true cross country with hills, roots, rocks, mud, and loved every mile.  I started out at age 11 running cross country.  These trail races have been a way for me to return to some of my favorite running and racing times – high school and college cross country.

I guess I enjoyed the cross country racing so much it seemed like a natural progression to hit the track too.  As a high school cross country and track coach I see the year in seasons – build a base, strength work, speed work, peak at the end of the season in key races, and then recovery time.  I don’t see a year as road racers do – train and race pretty much the same all year.

So as the high school track season has come to an end I find myself entering an open track meet on May 16 where I can race the 1500 meters, a race I have not run since college!

Wanting to be as prepared as possible, I decided to run a 1500 meter time trial today at 1:00 in the afternoon on a black track with no shade in sight.  Let me just say that summer is here in Florida!  Luckily I was joined by some young runners – Di, an 18 year old senior from the track team and two early twenty-something guys, Maverick and Eric.  We were timed by Kaitlyn and Amanda from the track team.  It was great having all this support!  I mention the ages here because it should be noted that I am twice Di’s age.  I am now twice the age of the seniors I coach.  Still trying to accept that fact.

Anyway, today was my day to not be the coach.  So we warmed up as a group and prepared for the task at hand.  I told everyone my goal pace and even though they were faster than me, they ran with me, paced me, and encouraged me.  It was awesome!  I ran the first 2 and 3/4 laps at exactly the pace I thought I might be able to run based on current race times.  It was so cool, 1:07 for the first 300 meters, then 1:30 and 1:30 for the next two laps.  The last lap was the fastest in 1:24, as it should be.  I always aim to run negative splits.  Di blasted by me in the last 200 meters and finished a few seconds ahead of me.

I guess I expected that.  She is amazing in her ability to pace herself and run negative splits.  She does it nearly every race.  She does it so perfectly that I never worry if she happens to be in last place on the first lap or two of her 3200 meter races.  I know she will run those negative splits and catch so many that have gone out too fast ahead of her.  She works so hard and has truly become a student of her sport.  She learns all she can to be her best.  As a coach, I feel very proud watching her races unfold so perfectly.  And she has one heck of a kick.

After the 1500 meter time trial, we ran 6 x 400 meter repeats.  My goal was 1:20 but I really didn’t know if that would be possible after the 1500.  The four of us lined up in lanes, using the stagger.  Something most of us had not done before since we don’t race the 400 and when running them in training we usually just run in lane one.

Maverick started us on each one.  Again, me trying to just run and not be coach today.  I went out pretty fast in lane 4 and crossed the finish line in 1:18.  I could hardly believe it.  My legs were a little wobbly but I was pretty excited.  We hit 1:18 again.  Changed into some racing flats and ran the third one in 1:17.  Whoa.  Didn’t care for the racing flats so ran #4 in them just to be sure and crossed in 1:19 then changed back to my other shoes.  By the fifth 400 my legs were pretty heavy and wobbly as I walk/jogged the recovery lap.  That would be my slowest in 1:20.  But this was my original goal pace so not too bad!  I thought I would have nothing left for the sixth 400, especially as the other three runners made up the stagger and flew by me with more than 200 meters to go but I still managed a 1:16 which is pretty amazing for these 36 year old legs!  I have not run 1:16 since my college days.

It was hot, I ended up sunburned, but had one of the best speed workouts I can remember.  Training with a group is definitely more fun, can really help you push past your personal limitations, and allows you to share in the joy and pain of running fast.  I must say that I did not feel 36 years old today.  I know I have lost some leg speed over the years, but today I could almost visualize myself running track workouts at the Brown stadium or at the old cinder track at the old Palmer High School (Monson did not have a track when I was in high school).  I almost felt like a teen again.  Coaching definitely has great benefits like getting to know amazing young runners like the ones I shared a two hour workout with today.

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One Response to “(Almost) Feel Like a Teen Again”

  1. Diane says:

    I’m sure gonna miss being a regular guest star in your blogs next year. :(

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