Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ragnar Track Adventures

Thanks for all of your entries in the Mizuno Elixir Contest!  I haven't picked a winner yet but I will get to it in time for my next entry.   And I'll try not to be super lazy about it.

Ragnar Track Party 

Since I moved to LA, I've been doing 95% of my workouts on the treadmill.  Which...honestly, makes no real sense.  I live in one of the most beautiful and easy to run in climates in the country.  I don't have any kids to watch at home.  I live pretty close to a lot of running paths...and...the one treadmill I have access to really sucks.  It's hard for me to even swing my arms the right way because the front bar gets in the way.

But I've been doing it anyways.  Mostly because I doubt my ability to run workouts by myself.  And once I start running a few workouts on the treadmill the doubting voice in my head tells me I can't run the same quality outside.

It took SarahOual's idea of having a track party where we meet in the middle between Orange County and LA and my friend Gisele's constant offers of "COME RUN WITH US ON THE CSU LONG BEACH TRACK!!" to get me back out.

So that's what we've done.  I've now been there three times.

Running at the Cal State Long Beach track is a funny experience for several reasons:

1) It's Unlit:  Or in the words of Sarah, it's "Ragnar Track".  Which means it's pitch black except for random stadium lights from a soccer field a few hundred yards away.  This promotes a complete "deer in headlights" syndrome where I can't see anything at the same part of the track each lap.  I also can't check my splits very well which is weird for me as I like to check track splits every 200 meters.

2)  There are Massive Amounts of Small Children: They hang out at this track running laps in what are apparently "track leagues for 5 year olds after dark".    They are cute but it's also kind of weird/unexpected.   You could not have paid me enough to hang out at a track when I was that age.

3)  The Track Kind of Sucks.  The surface is really hard and was probably constructed during the Reagan administration   It's actually kind of sad that California is so broke as a joke that they can't finance a halfway decent track for one of their larger universities.

Oh yeah, about the workouts. 

Last Thursday, I met Sarah and Kristina for a track workout that I'd never done before in my life.  2 sets of 8x400 meters with one minute rest between each repeat and three minutes rest between each set.  It was actually surprisingly fun and not like a death march.  We started our paces around 1:42 for the 400s and gradually decreased ended with a 1:28.  By the end I wanted to semi die but not completely.  Right where I want to be.

Sarah and Kristina couldn't make it this week, so I had to decide whether I would stay home....OR get my ass kicked running the workout with my friend Gisele who runs 1:28 half marathons like it's flipping burgers.  I decided on the ass-kicking, of course.

I met Gisele and another friend of hers at the track and they told me they were doing 3x1600 meters. So I did them too.   By the time I was 400 meters into my first repeat with them, I was dropped.  I figured I could run around 6:30s for my miles and those two speed demons had to be running at least 6 flat.  Needless to say, I spent most of the workout thinking "DON'T LET THEM GET MORE THAN 100 meters in front of you!!!!"

Of course, I failed every time.  Dream big though, right?

We finished the first two repeats (mine were around 6:32 each I believe) and it was time for the last one.  I rounded the first corner of my first lap and like each time before, I was blinded by the stadium lights and also trying to dodge small children milling around on the track.  "Track!", I yelled, in an attempt to not bulldoze a tyke.  Just like they had in the first two 1600 meter repeats when I'd passed them, the kids responded with a combination of heckling and cheering.   Pretty much none of them ever moved though.

I went through the 800 meter mark around 3:13 and rounded the giant headlights/child area again.  The kids were lined up to run a repeat.  I passed them and ran about 150 meters until I could hear some little kids who started after I passed catching up to me.  "Damn, these kids are gonna pass me," I thought!

"Tracccckk", I hear behind me in some little kids voice.  I chuckled to myself between the hard breathing.  The kids were learning!  I moved into lane two to let two little girls pass me.  Of course, I was not about to let anymore 2nd graders kick my butt after those two and picked up the pace until the lap finished.  I was counting on the fact that these kids couldn't be running more than about 300 meter intervals.  Yes, this is what it's come to.  I race elementary schoolers.

I went into my last lap, safe from being chased down by toddlers and back to my original focus of not losing sight of Gisele and friend.  They continued kicking butt and I came in far behind right around 6:30.

Not the world's fastest workout, but it could have been worse, right?  The part that made me feel better is that the workout felt moderately hard but nothing close to a race effort.

I know running with all these girls will help my confidence and make me a better runner.  But that's not completely why I do it.  Big secret?  My favorite part of the workout is the cooldown.  We ran three miles on the track cooling down, just talking, laughing, etc.   It'll be even better when Sarah and Kristina can make it.

So I guess a big reason of why I run is for the friends.  And of course for the opportunity to play real-life frogger in the dark with fast kids.


  1. One of these days, we're going to challenge those kiddies to a race and

    Maybe get our asses kicked.

    No more 1600s in this cycle, yipeeeee!