Over the past few weeks, we've been seeing our new local speed workout take off, and have recently added a new component to the workout-an optional, but highly encouraged mile time trial at the end of the workout. We did it for the first time last week, and I found myself briefly cursing an idea that was hatched with fellow runners while relaxing in a hot tub post-race in Moab a few weeks ago. There was no denying that this was a great workout, though, and a mental one as much as anything else. Running 6 x 400's can be hard enough, but knowing you're going to do a hard sustained mile effort after a brief recovery period really takes mental stamina and discipline.
Last week, I did my mile in 7:07, which wasn't bad for tired legs after a long week and good speed workout. We had eleven runners stay for the mile, and when we moved to our new location this week at the municipal Stocker Stadium track, it was pretty awesome to see that we had about 16 or 17 runners for the workout, and about ten who committed to stick around for the mile. What was exciting this time is that one of them was a brand-new runner. I can remember the intimidation of being new and feeling slow, and it was cool that this woman was going to put herself out there for a mile that would be hard for everyone at maximum effort.
After our regular warmup, drills, and intervals (this time, having enough of a pace divide to split up into two groups), I borrowed a watch from a friend, and log sheet for times from our coach/leader who had to depart early, and set up to time the mile. As I'm not fast enough to be first around to then time everyone else, and being a little sore this week, it was no biggy to skip the mile myself. I knew there would be plenty more opportunities in the future to make up for it.
Everyone got off to a rolling start, and then I just made sure I shouted out splits loud enough when the runners came around. In the end, we had runners coming in from 5:16 to 8:45, and it was a pretty cool thing to know that we were having success in beginning to draw the newer, less experienced runners. I'm pretty thankful for the folks who paid it forward with me when I was brand spanking new to running, so it just feels natural now to be welcoming and encouraging to the folks who show up for runs and races, not quite sure what they've gotten themselves into, but wanting to give it a try nonetheless.
After the mile, I cooled down (or...more like, warmed up after standing to time) with a couple of other runners, and picked the brain of one who ran a local 50-miler that seems to be calling my name. It's the Desert RATS Trailrunning Festival, and is a double-loop of the 25-mile course available on the same weekend, during which half-marathon and 5-mile trail races will be run as well. I must say that I get nervous about such a long race for a variety of reasons. When I finished the Moab RedHot 55K last year, I was SO happy to be done and wasn't sure how people ran a step further than 34 miles. Then there's that nasty ankle roll I took last year. On the other hand, I feel the need to do something bigger and longer than a road marathon or standard 30-something miler. So, it's been nice to talk to several local runners this week about it, hear their experiences, and think about how to best prepare for a hypothetical 50-mile run. I have not officially pulled the trigger, but am moving closer and closer to making the official jump up in distance. It's scary, but exciting.
In preparation for my potential long, slow trail run, I'm going to be taking advantage of time on the many beautiful and challenging trails in the greater-Grand Junction area. Yes, I said greater-Grand Junction. There are so many places to run long around here and I am getting excited to hit them up this winter, explore unfamiliar territory, and get ready to test myself next spring. There are other cities in the region that are certainly more well-known as trail running meccas. This is a sweet spot for access to great trails in all directions, both within city limits or nearby. With an already strong running community locally, it's been an added boost to know that we're mobilizing better than ever now, and hopefully creating a movement by example.