I can still remember the chapter entitled Intervals in the book Once a Runner by John L Parker. Quenton Cassidy doing endless intervals pushing himself to his ultimate limit lap after lap and just when you think he can’t do anymore he resigns himself to another set. In the end he goes home after his ‘make or break’ workout and collapses into a deep sleep on his bed. Awesome!
My own experience wasn’t quite as dramatic as the fictional Mr. Cassidy’s but it was a new experience for me. I am on Week 3 of Hal Higdon’s Advanced I Marathon Training Program. This is the weekly ‘Quality’ workout which rotates from Hill Repeats to Tempo to Intervals and back to Hill Repeats. Since Week One I have been kind of looking at this workout as my biggest challenge. My trail running told me I would be able to do Hill Repeats and Tempo is just a slow build to pace and back down again. What’s so hard about that? Intervals are done on the track, this is speed work! What have I done? I’ve given up my beloved trails for a 400 meter oval. Jen said to me the other day, “You don’t run trails anymore do you?” I didn’t answer. I couldn’t answer. Definitely I have resigned myself to the roads, the pounding pavement all for the single minded purpose of qualifying for Boston.
My work schedule took me to Kelowna, BC, a beautiful place, which is no secret to anyone in the know. That being the case hotel rates sky rocket during the summer months. I couldn’t justify paying an extra $70 for the room I stayed in a month ago. So in searching for a place I chose my hotel based on proximity to a track. Using Google Earth I noted that there is only one ‘local’ track. What gives? Kelowna has a population probably double maybe triple that of Mission and only has one track, or at least that’s what I could find via Google Earth. The Apple Bowl sits in the heart of the city and is close to several hotels but it mystifies me as to why the city has just one track. This track is where I did my infamous barefoot run a few months ago and is a beautiful rubberized track. So if you are going to have one track it should be a good one.
My warm up was a direct route one mile straight to the track. Perfect! Lap 1 with a target of 3:30 was a little shaky. I wasn’t used to the faster pace and I felt like I was speeding up then slowing down but I ended up with a 3:22. A little fast but I was looking more for consistency rather than being bang on 3:30.
After a one lap rest in 2:24 (Hal says to keep rest between 2 and 3 minutes) I sped off again. This time I was a little more controlled and finished the 800 with a time of 3:24. Not bad!
Another rest lap and my third 800 was another 3:24. Now I thought I was getting the hang of this.
The final 800 was also a consistent 3:23. So taking into account hundredths of second the total range of values was within 1.5 seconds. I stepped off the track totally satisfied. Intervals were not as daunting as I had thought. I felt like I could have done more but I wanted to stick to the plan. I can hardly wait another three weeks before I get to do 5 x 800.
I ran back to the hotel and stepped into Starbucks for a Grande Dark Roast and it was barely 6 am.
I have a gorgeous wife and four kids. I am a volunteer firefighter in a small suburb about 50 miles from Vancouver. Before the duty bell rings and before the sun rises I run. My priorities will always be wife and kids so fitting running into the schedule can be challenging.