So after two weeks of what can be described as a death march to meet a deadline at work, I'm finally getting back into a training routine. Tonight was my first weeknight run with TFK. We met in Central Park just outside the Diana Ross Playground, which I thought was a joke, but apparently its a real place, and also our regular meeting spot. It put 'Love Hangover' and 'Upside Down' in my brain for a good two miles, which was OK this time, but I can see myself getting into a disco diva k-hole every time we meet here, and I'm not sure if I'm up for that experience every Monday and Wednesday evening.
After a warm up, we were given the directions for our 5.6 mile run (which I didn't listen to, assuming I'd be with the pack or a coach) and split up into three pace groups; Beginner, Intermediate, and Experienced. Now while I understand the coaches desire to initially keep this a self selecting system based on how we are feeling from day to day, I didn't get why they were so reluctant to give pace times for the two faster groups. I ran with the Experienced group the past two Saturday runs, so I wandered over to join a large group of doods. Doods who looked like they ran super fast. I was told we'd all be running together at the same 8:30mi pace, so I decided to run with them. We spread out the groups, and made our way to the bridle path.
I didn't wear my watch, so I assume we ran the first two miles or so at an easy 9 minutes. I'm never a fan of the first few miles. I'm still tight and nothing's flowing the way that it does when I really get going, so I tend to just hang in the middle of the pack and run easy to loosen up. I was still keyed up after working such a heavy schedule for two weeks, so I was pretty quiet, listened to the others talking, and just tried to mentally unclench.
Around mile 2.5, coach Brian ran with me for a bit, talked about races and pacing, and then noticed the widening spread of our group, so ran ahead to check on the super fast doods cruising wayyyy down the path in front of me. I watched him run past the runners in front of me, and all of a sudden, the switch flipped in my brain and...I started chasing rabbits. The run was no longer about keeping an easy, steady pace, it was about picking people ahead of me, passing them, picking the next person, passing them, until I found myself running alone with the super fast doods about 100 yards ahead and part of the pace group just behind. I thought about slowing down for a second to join in the fun with the group, but then I remembered all that work stress I was still burdened with, and the 5 mile race I will be running on Father's Day, and decided to just keep pounding it out. I ran hard enough to drain all that tense, twitchy energy I had been carrying for the past two weeks. Eventually, I lost my super fast rabbits, and had two mildly embarrassing moments when I had to turn around and wait for the group to tell me which path to take (I will listen to the directions before the run from now on, and thank you Christina for not laughing too hard whenever I turned around and flailed my arms to ask which way to go), so I picked it up again until I caught sight of my doods, and before long, I was done, stress was gone, and I was on my way home to relax. Thanks doods, thanks coaches Brian and Christina, and I'll see you guys next week. Run fast rabbits, run fast!