I've been following Bart Yasso's Marathon Training plan. So after a steady buildup of mileage on both hills and flat terrain, today's workout consisted of Mile Repeats. Now I've read about the infamous mile repeats in books and I can't say the feedback is favorable. But I thought I'd do a little speedwork in Central Park since the weather was nice.
Thanks to Cherie, I found the Great Hill Track to do some measured mile repeats (although I'm pretty sure the track is less than a quarter mile or else I was SERIOUSLY kicking butt on these miles). It felt good to run fast (at first) because I generally don't push my body on my runs - I hold out until I feel pretty comfortable and then I'll kick up a hill or down a hill and try to pass people as part of a little mental competition that keeps me running (ex. "If I can outrun that hottie ahead of me in the blue shorts, he's clearly not a hardcore athlete like me"). The track workout was tough, although it seemed pretty short. Maybe it's because, as I'm increasing my weekly mileage, individual miles seem shorter and much more manageable. At any rate, I think I kept pace (I'm still not exactly sure how long that track is, but it's close enough...we'll call it a wash) and it made me feel good to breathe hard and sweat a lot.
One thing I will say is that I used to do speed work on a treadmill. While it is definitely easier to calculate your mileage and your pace (all you have to do is hit the little buttons!), treadmill running is absolutely snore-tastic. Like I used to be able to run 12 miles on a treadmill in the winter (I know. I effing know.) but now I can barely run for 12 minutes. I remembered that today in the park as I wound up the little path to the Great Hill track at 106th street, right below the behemoth that is Harlem Hill. The foliage along the CP loop up there is so thick that I had no idea that there were even paved trails up there. They're so easy to miss! I finally emerged at the top of the path and it was like a secret society that only runners and small children with kites knew about. It was awesome...like discovering a secret garden (plus, there were bathrooms, and if there is anything that I love more than running it's knowing exactly where the next bathroom is on a particularly long run). As I ran (sans iPod today) I looked up and to the left and to the right and down at my feet. I was running in one of the greatest cities in the world, a city that most people spend all of their lifetime trying to get to or visiting or wishing they could visit, and I was in near silence in the center of it. It was sort of a spiritual moment and, though I'm not a spiritual person (although have been more since I started running so much) I kind of acknowledged the magnitude of the city in which I was running and the sheer smallness of my being in comparison. I was running. In a park. With birds. And trees. End scene. Sometimes, life needs to be boiled down to two word sentences so that you can figure out what the heck you're actually doing with it.
I finished my repeats and jogged on down to 79th street to have some yummy Thai food with my friend Anita. At the beginning of the summer, I swore to myself that I'd never let running get in the way of seeing my friends. I've held pretty strict to that rule and even if I have to miss workouts, I'll always make them up later. Good thing my friends are so flexible and willing to eat around my running schedule (one day I'll become a morning runner...one day). All in all, a good day, despite the inertia at work. In fact, whenever I get a hard run in it's always a good day. Looks like I'll have a lot of good days coming up, since my next marathon is just three weeks away!