Today’s tempo run included a one mile warm up followed by three miles at tempo pace and finishing with a one mile cool down. Sounds simple, right? Well, with all of the hills in my new neighborhood, I thought I would warm up for a mile and then run my three tempo miles on the track. I know it’s boring, but at least on the track there are no hills in sight.
I have been scoping out the track for the past few days in the morning, searching for bathrooms, water fountains, and access points, keeping all of this in mind for future speed work. The red track glistened in the early morning air, heavy with humidity. Half of the track remained in shadow. My eyes followed the gentle curves of the loop, and my feet ached for the springy and spongey feel on my soles. The track sat empty–odd for such a nice morning. A landscaper pulled next to the track in a golf cart for a brief moment.
I approached the track and saw the lock on the gate. Maybe they only open one gate? I walked to the next gate in the chain link fence, and a lock greeted me there too. The pattern continued as I ran on the trail next to the track, and then I felt silly as if I should be on the track and not outside of it. Fortunately, no one was around to see me.
I surmised that the entire track was on lockdown–no running for anyone. Now, I was faced with a choice: tackle the hills that I know on the trail or figure out a new route that would include hills because there is no flat land. I went with the hills that I know. I learned awhile ago that mapping out a new route while running a tempo is not a good idea.
I’m glad I went with the hills that I know. My legs took long strides over roots, and I flew down the hills at breakneck speed balanced with the short toe steps up the steep inclines. It was a tempo run of sorts, maybe more of a fartlek. Just say “fartlek”; it’s fun and not obscene. This was one of the hardest tempo runs I’ve done on those hills. And now I know that I can really run those hills I know.