Tempo Madness

When you think of tempo, you think of music. A song can have a fast or a slow tempo. Even falling rain can have a nice easy rhythm or tempo. When the word “tempo” is used in conjunction with running, there is no such thing as slow, especially when you’re a member of “Gilbert’s Gazelles.” By definition, a tempo run is supposed to be a faster run for an extended period of time. It’s these runs that get you to the next level by pushing your heart rate into higher zones for longer periods of time. Today’s tempo run was 4 miles. You’d think I’d look forward to this workout because it’s a quickie–literally. It’s brutal while you’re running, but over before you know it, unlike some workouts that seem to go on forever!

I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather and I’ve been in my little stress funk so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Plus, I’d actually missed the last two tempo workouts. The last time I did this one was back in October with a personal best of 29:04 (7:06 per mile). I remember thinking at the time that I couldn’t possibly go faster. It’s dark in the morning while we’re running on a dirt trail that has several dips, cracks, tree roots, rocks and other hazards–not to mention the other runners who are also out for their morning runs before the sun rises. Bottom line, you have to stay mentally in tact for this workout as well. If not, you will bite it and bite it bad. As I mentioned before, the Hike and Bike Trail is a treasure that I utilize almost every day so I’m pretty familiar with every dip and rock. However, I try not to get too cocky.

We started with a very comfortable 2 mile warmup (so much for a short 4 mile run). We averaged about a 9:20 pace for the warmup. Anne, Amy, Gretchen, Dave and I were it…Just five lonely souls today. We all voiced our trepidation for today’s workout. I don’t know what it is about this one. Actually, I do know. Because you know you’re running faster than usual, it automatically puts you in “race mode.” Suddenly you start questioning everything up to this point. We did our usual drills (high knees, skipping, shuffle,etc) and I think Gilbert sensed our emotions and gave us a typical Gilbert Pep Talk before we began. “My friends, don’t think about your times from the past. It’s a clean slate. Today is a new beginning.” I wanted to heed his advice, but not thinking about the past is impossible. That’s like getting back together with a person who cheated on you and pretending that it never happened. Oh no, there’s always memories from the past.

GO!!! And we were off. Of the five of us who were running, I’m the slowest of the bunch. I don’t say that for sympathy or encouragement. I say it based on past training and race times. Therefore, my goal for the tempo run was to try to stay within 10 yards of the women. Dave is much faster so when Gilbert said “go,” Dave was gone. For the first half mile, I had trouble regulating my breathing, but I was right in the pack. I hate that sensation of breathing really hard and being able to hear it loud and clear. I’m assuming that everyone else can hear my struggling breath and are probably wondering if (or when) I’m going to drop! The first mile beeps on the Garmin 7:10…a little brisk for attempting a negative split, but I’m feeling more comfortable. Mile 2 is a pretty tough mile with two small hills on the trail, a bridge crossing and some railroad tracks. I’m still in the pack. Actually, I’m moving up. What the hell? Gretchen dropped back, as did Anne. This is scary. Both of them are smokin’ fast. I don’t know Gretchen well, but I know Anne is a very consistent and strong runner. Amy is hanging with me, but suddenly I’m in the lead and I’m not sure what to do about that. I’m not used to being ahead. I like the sensation of falling in behind a pacer and just drafting. I’m more comfortable in the back.

We hit the Mile 2 turnaround–7:01. OK–2 more miles–Hang on sister! Every running mantra passed through my mind. Be the rabbit, breathe, watch your form, breathe, breathe!!! I actually consciously told myself that I wanted to slow down a little bit. This was a benchmark run and I can’t possibly pull this off again. Just when I started to slow down, I could hear Amy’s footsteps right behind me. Pick it up!! Run like a freakin’ gazelle. Do not let the lions get you.
Mile 3–6:58 wow–faster yet. I know I was going to beat my October time so I really did want to slow down a little for the last mile. How am I ever going to top this?? Breathing is incredibly laborious. Legs getting heavier. 1/2 mile to go. In typical fashion, here comes Amy. She did it. That girl has an amazing kick which has earned her the coveted “Sandbagger” nickname. I swear she just sits back and waits to make her pass. She rocks. She finishes about 5 yards ahead of me.

My final time: 28 min:00:06!! I beat my 4 mile record by over a minute. Not easy to do in four miles. Needless to say, I was thrilled and freaking exhausted! Screw the slow tempo. I want a fast beat that I can run to.

On a better note: Amy agreed to do our 20 miler on Friday morning! YAY! I don’t have to run by myself at 5am.


5:30am Whole wheat toast with PBJ
9:30am KAshi Go lean crunch with blueberries and yogurt
1:00pm 2 lettuce wraps, 1 1/2 cups of chicken pad thai
4:00pm 1 strawberry dipped in chocolate
7:30pm 2 lettuce wraps, tofu/veggies and brown rice ( I love leftovers)

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