There is something magic about a stadium in the dawn as the sun comes up and still to this day I am always in awe spiritually as you enter the stadium, normally this is reserved for entering a stadium to watch your team pal and the first moment you see the hallowed turf my breath is always taken away.
This morning I could almost see my breath and the dew on the ground still coated the grass around the track, there were no stadiums filled with spectactors but just a group of us huddled around Chief Coach Ron who was briefing us on the Intervals workout that lay ahead. This was my first session with Ron and was his chance to assess my level of running so there was within me the desire to “hold form” and show him that I did have some talent “raw” but willing.
The session was brutal, perhaps brutal is the word I use, this being my only second session with a coach assessing me and coaching me.
We started with a warm up and the words of “faster Mal” by the third lap of the warm up and even faster on the Fourth lap, before the session briefing. A reverse 2000m down starting with 2000, 1600, 1200, 800, 800.This fellow runners is a workout designed to make your legs burn with only a minute interval between each set. As I set out on the 1200 my legs had that burn and from moment on my heart rate was never below 90% of max. The first 800 was hard and Ron said one more would do me he just wanted me to keep the same pace up and hear me breathe as I ran past him.
As you turned onto the final straight Ron would concentrate on you and it is comforting but unnerving to feel for the first time in my running life that I was constantly being assessed and there is no where to hide or allow yourself to ease down.
My splits were as follows
#1 2000m 9 min 11 secs Pace 4:28 min/km
#2 1600m 7 min 24 secs Pace 4:30 min/km
#3 1200m 5 min 35 secs Pace 4:28 min/km
#4 800m 3 min 37 secs Pace 4:22 min/km
#5 800m 3 min 34 secs Pace 4:20 min/km
Looking back I am happy with my ability to maintain pace and keep running at that level of threshold I believe in myself and my abilty to improve. As the adage goes to run faster, you need to train faster.
I learnt lessons this morning like a yoghurt is not enough to eat before training as I will really need carbs to run track, and in cold weather to use long skin pants to avoid injury. Also have food for immediately after because I was starving by the end of the session and was glad I had a banana in my bag as I climbed in the car.
Now for the second part of the day and the need to actually accept that if I want to complete a triathlon and really compete not just go through the motions and accept that result without actually racing or pushing myself. I am going to have to learn to swim freestyle.
You could take me out of the coast 5 km and tell me to swim in breaststroke and I would not be daunted, take me out 500 m and tell me to swim in freestyle and I would be trouble.
Here in lies the problem to be resolved I have to learn to swim freestyle, Coach gavin gave me a trial program to get me started. The ten laps to warm up felt like I had already done the a workout, BUT I was determined not to give up and pushed myself. Then kickboard a length, one arm a length then one lap freestyle, the lap freestyle actually felt good and positive with energy, the kickboard lengths felt like a bad way to drown myself in slow motion. Followed by 6 laps cool down and the seeing the end of the black line felt really good. So good in fact that I put on fins and did four more laps with fins and a kickboard, I like the fins reminds me of training for my SCUBA Divemaster level.
What felt good was that I did not give up or revert to breast stroke, I had actually completed a freestyle session, not hard by any standards BUT I had done it alone with no one around me, the session was mine. Is my stroke bad “yes” does my kick suck “yes” but it was my session and I had achieved a small goal within myself . A session of freestyle.
In years to come I will look back at this entry and laugh, but then again I remember the first time 8 years ago when I tried to run around the block and could not manage it without stopping and now I have run four marathons.