On another rainy night, 10 Squamish Titans members gathered for the 12th week of the Tuesday Runs sessions led by the awesome Roger Shirt. Meeting point was Alice Lake. And we weren't the only local running group meeting there, with another led by Jen Segger getting ready for their intervals too.
Roger had us warm up by running around the lake and explained the workout while we did some gentle stretches. He also told us the theme of the night was Positive Thinking, especially on the mile repeats we'd be doing later, and particularly when we'd hit the short but steep hill just about near the end of each mile.
The session started off with a 15-minute tempo run. The goal was to run it at slightly slower than 10-minute pace. Roger ran ahead and stopped at the 1km mark to read everyone their splits so we could check to see if we were on pace. Mine was 3:59 so I was a tad fast but in the chilly and wet evening it felt OK.
To manage a group of runners at different speeds, Roger had us running one way for 7-1/2 minutes on the road near Alice Lake and then turn around to meet back at the same point. Then it was time for mile repeats. Roger, a former member of the UBC cross-country team, said after the session that it had been standard fare at UBC: a 15-minute tempo run, followed by mile repeats.
He split the group in two, according to pace. In terms of effort, he said that the tempo run should have felt like a 3 out of 5 and that the mile repeats were meant to feel like 4 out of 5. While he didn't give us a time goal, he recommended we aim to go about 5 seconds faster on each one. We had the option of doing three or four repeats, and Tim, Rich and I decided to go for the latter.
Our mile ran along the single-track trail that follows Alice Lake, and Roger led us out on the first one. It's a gorgeous trail though it does require paying a little more attention to footing, especially on a rainy day.
Roger finished ahead, with plenty of time to take our splits. Tim was first in 6:18 and I was 2 seconds behind him. I hadn't really thought about what my time would be, and the sound of 6:20 scared me with the thought that there were three left to go.
At the start of the next one, which I led, I could feel a sense of panic and had to focus my thoughts on remaining calm and positive, in keeping with the theme for the night. The combination of training load plus the challenging time goal for the next three miles could easily feel overwhelming if I allowed it to be.
The first time I ever experienced this sense of panic during a run was in my first long run with a new group in the woods around Brussels, Belgium. I couldn't keep up and got worried I'd be left alone on unfamiliar trails. My sense of panic and shortness of breath followed by tears were noticed by an experienced runner ahead of me, who slowed down and told me to relax.
Last night I was able to relax too, while maintaining my pace, finishing the next three mile repeats in 6:18, 6:18 and 6:21 as timed by Roger. This time it was me running hot on Tim's heels. Rich did a superb 4 repeats as well, finishing the last 9 seconds faster than his first. It was another solid interval session: only 3-1/2 weeks until the Vancouver Marathon!