Saturday, May 24, 2008

Interval gave out

I tried my first outdoors interval run today. I've mixed in some of it during previous runs but nothing as organized as I had today. Overall, I think it went well. Better than I'd expected, actually. Not even my iPod could keep up with me.

First thing this morning was the task of making a playlist. I wanted to run three sets of intervals, that is a four-minute 90-percent clip, three-minute 70-percent clip, back up to 4 minutes, down to 3, up to 4 and down to 3. On either end of the run I wanted to have time to warm up and cool down. I ran the Oak Quarry course, so it was a good 3.25 miles. I selected a two-minute song to kind of serve as a warm up, followed by songs with lengths to correspond to the intervals.

After the warm-up song, I let loose in a sprint as The Killers sang about Sam's Town. It actually felt good to just kick it into high gear, to open it up right away. But about halfway through the song, I felt myself slowing down. It was hard but I kept at it. I wasn't at a full-on sprint but I was close. By the time Brandon Flowers saw London and Sam's Town, I was ready for a change of song.

I went down to 70 percent, which was hard to gauge. I didn't want to go too far down to where I'm just basically speed walking but I didn't want to overexert myself either. It didn't take long to find a comfortable clip, though. But the three minutes went by fast and then I had to kick it back up to high gear.

I wasn't moving as fast as before but I wasn't exactly gassed either. I was still going at a steady pace and I knew if I had run my usual 2.25 Run Around the Neighborhood I would have set a new high, if in fact I kept times. But the 90-percent clip was further complicated by my run. I was starting to run at an incline as the Oak Quarry route takes me up a slight hill. After the four-minute song was over, I moved into a three-minute System of a Down song. I needed that extra energy from Serj and his boys to get me up the hill. I made it up to the entrance, crossed the street and started to go back down toward Armstrong. Once I crossed that, I'd be close to the home stretch. I had a lot to give still. I felt it. I could have run a lot longer than my original 3.25-mile plan.

As it were, though, the iPod couldn't. After the four-minute song, I went into the final three-minute song, which would have been followed up by a pair of longer songs that would have played during my final cooldown portion of the run. Instead, barely a minute into the song, the iPod gave out on me. All I heard was the occasional passing car and my footsteps, and eventually my labored breathing.

I wasn't too worried about maintaining the 70 percent clip. I set a mental landmark to try and cross and I maintained the clip until then. After that, I figured I had about three-quarters of a mile to go and I started to go into my usual steady (slow) pace. But I forced myself to move at a faster pace.

I kept it up. I got close to the home stretch so I decided to sprint part of it. I took off and although I wasn't moving at supersonic speed my heart was pumping hard, my legs were moving and I was maintaining a steady, somewhat faster pace. I rounded the second-to-last corner and slowed down. The worst of my run was over. I tried my steady pace instead of my slower one but I was beat down by that point.

When I finally made it home, I was exhausted. I could have kept going. Had I not sprinted that last portion I wouldn't have been so dead tired. But it actually fit well with the interval. I had exerted myself at different times of the run and then I really challenged my heart during the sprint. I'm guessing my heart rate was close to 180 at the end of my sprint.

My iPod, though, was stuck on zero. It didn't flat-line (I resuscitated it after some moments of anguish) but it left me alone to my thoughts. And that was just another challenge I eventually overcame.

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