keeping up

This has been my strategy of late: just keep up.  Usually that is the case when I am in school–as much as I plan to get ahead of my work any given semester, I always find that keeping up is the best I can do. 

Keeping up takes on a slightly different meaning in running.  It’s not that I’m falling behind my work, it’s that I don’t know how hard to work.  I struggle to pace myself in a race, at a workout, on a long run, or an easy run.  Last Saturday I raced the Central Park Conservancy 4-miler.  In my head I thought I should maybe shoot for 7:40 pace since I had run a 5k at 7:37 pace the week before.  I wore my garmin, but I was going on feel–only checking pace at mile splits.  After getting through the first half mile with minimal weaving (thanks for the tip Tanya!) I tucked in behind two dudes that seemed to be about my pace.  Sure enough, 7:40 first mile.  But then the second mile was 7:30–eek.  I knew I couldn’t sustain 7:30 for two more miles, so I pulled back a bit and found a new focal point to chase after.  3rd mile was slower, 4th mile was faster, and I finished up in 30:40.  A 1:30 PR and 7:40 pace on the nose… but only because I picked out runners to keep up with. 

Fast forward to Tuesday night’s speed workout.  I showed up to UA nervous because a) speed work is still new to me, and b) I’d never done 1000m repeats before.  In my head I guessed I should shoot for around 4 minutes a rep, and the UA coaches confirmed that would be a good goal.  But then the coaches told us all to dial it back a notch given the heat and humidity.  Still, I didn’t know what 1000m felt like, much less a 4-minute 1000m.  GO!!  I tucked in with a couple of girlfriends and just told myself to keep up with them.  Finished up in 4:11, then 4:06, then 4:16, and finally 4:08.  While I didn’t accomplish Jay’s goal for me to make my last repeat the fastest, I felt good about my splits.  More than anything, I felt grateful for girls to keep up with.

You can only keep up with respect to something (or in this case someone) else.  You keep up with a syllabus or a deadline or a teammate.  I think once you have kids, you keep up with them–or at least try to.  I’m really glad I like the people I’m trying to keep up with.

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