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I'm finally running happy again! And marathon #2 is up in May...

Rob Brooks ran: Sometimes stopping to...

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alright Slave to the Beauty 5.25 mi

Sometimes stopping to observe your surroundings pays huge dividends.

During a recent neighborhood run, I was motoring past Sunset High School on Cornell when I noticed a couple of other early morning runners heading towards the back of the athletic fields. I peered over in that direction and, for the first time, realized that there was a track back there. I kept it in the back of my mind, and yesterday as I was thinking about this morning's speedwork I figured I'd give it a try.

Holy crap! To reverse-paraphrase one Adam "Pacman" Jones, that was one of the smartest decisions I ever made. What a fantastic track! 8 lanes of soft and bouncy goodness, perfectly flat and evenly graded (unlike the sloping nightmare at my son's school) with all the amenities (4 water fountains and porta potties!). As if that wasn't enough of a treat, I arrived to a STUNNING full moon hanging over one end of the track, a direct view of the first blush of dawn over the West Hills at the other end (which eventually blossomed into full sunrise before I finished), AND to top it all off I got treated to perfectly cool and crisp running weather. I felt truly blessed.

On to the nitty gritty. Planned workout was 6x400 at 1:40 or faster, with rest breaks of 2-2:30 between each repeat (more on that in a sec), including 1200M warmup and a slow however-long-I-felt-like cooldown (wound up being 3 walking/jogging miles). Splits:

1:45 (no mas!)

I was HOSED that last split – any inclination I had to push it one extra repeat flew right out the window as I staggered down the back stretch.

So, the story behind this specific workout. Once upon a time, shortly after I joined DM, I had the worst moment of my brief running career (I have to always bear in mind that this was after less than a month of running). Coach had us pair up and run alternating 400s, i.e. one person waited at the start line while the other ran a 400, then tagged out and swapped places. We did this either 8 or 10 times (I forget now). By the third repeat I felt GODAWFUL, just a painful winded slogging mess. During the last repeat I wanted to quit. To just walk away from the track and never run another step again in my life. Obviously I got over it. :-) I periodically return to a variation of this workout as a reminder of how far I've come since that day. It's a real ass-kicker! I can't overstate the impact of the repeated stopping and starting; I find it FAR more challenging than including the usual slow recovery jogs between repeats. I assume it has something to do with the repeated buildup of lactic acid, I don't know the technical details. It requires all my focus and dogged intensity to psyche myself up for each repeat, and in that way is as much a mental test as a physical one.

Hills tomorrow. No rest for the wicked!