Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Easy Run Becomes Tempo Run

My plan this morning was for an easy run.

I had to be in Northern Virginia this morning for work, so I decided that I would get in my running gear, pack up my work clothes in my gym bag and hit the gym in Reston, VA.

Last night before hitting the sack, I had an even more brilliant idea - try to find how close the W&OD Trail is to the Reston Fitness First. Perhaps I could run on the trail instead of the treadmill, and then just go to the gym to shower. I checked it out on the internet and found out that the W&OD Trail is right across the street from the Reston Fitness First - what luck!

New plan was 2.5 miles West on the W&OD Trail to the Herndon train station - mile markers 17.5 to 20.0 - and then back.

I got out of the house later than I wanted to - at 7am - but I still got on the trail by 7:45am (for DC traffic, travelling 27 miles in 45 minutes is actually quite impressive!). My original plan was to do an easy run, however, that soon changed.

There was something about this morning that wanted me to go a bit faster than my normal, easy plodding jog. The weather was great - overcast skies and 64 degrees. The trail was nice - a wide asphalt path with a gravel path to the side of it. No cars on the trail - just bikes, runners and walkers. Each half mile was marked on the trail which actually made the run go by quickly as well (direct feedback every 4.5 to 5 minutes!)

The scenery wasn't so great - the part of the trail that I ran still runs through some pretty highly developed areas of Reston and Herndon - and it seemed like there were power lines overhead the entire run - however, there was just a great feeling not having to share the route with cars, trucks and buses. I also had my iPod shuffle with me and a mix of fairly uptempo songs. So everything was pointing to a faster run.

There were a few times that the trail crossed a street in which I had to stop. Since I was running a bit faster I didn't mind the short breaks which got my heart rate back down. Most other road "crossings" were overpasses or underpasses which created some small hills on the trail. Since the hills were not too steep or long, I "attacked" the hills when they came - trying not to lose my pace.

I ended up doing the 5 miles in 47:13 - a bit under a 9:30/mile pace. My HR for the first half averaged at 155 bpm and the second half at 167 bpm. I was a bit concerned about how much my HR went up in the second half. Sure, I did run the second half a little faster (40 seconds over 2.5 miles) and since it was only a 5 mile run I was fine. However, as I choose a pace for this weekend's Half Marathon, I see that a 9:30/mile pace is going to be too fast for me at this point. I started going into the anaerobic HR zone at about 4 miles (for me that's around 170 bpm) - and I know that I won't be able to sustain that for 9 miles. I'm going to try to stick to a 10:00/mile pace the best I can this weekend - that would still get me a PR of 2:11 if I can stick to it.

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