Last night was my first speed workout since Boston and, as it turned out, my first set of hill repeats since last year's Boston training cycle (in my usual training I replace repeats with hilly long runs). Anyway, on Tuesday nights my team--like so many others--meets for speed work in Central Park. With Brooklyn just over two weeks away I figured it was time to get my legs moving again.
Last night's workout? 5x800m hill repeats on Cat Hill. For those of you who (a) don't live in New York or (b) don't run in Central Park, Cat Hill is located on East Drive between approximately E 75thand E 81st. It's called Cat Hill because of Edward Kemeys' bronze "Still Hunt" sculpture of a cougar.* At just about a quarter mile and an average of 3.7% grade it's not the longest or steepest hill in the park--those distinctions belong to Harlem hill which is a third of a mile at 4.4% grade--but it still makes for a good workout. To get 800m we kept going after the crest of the hill, enjoying some downhilll, another rise, and some flat to finish just past the Met.
Our goal was to do the repeats at 10k pace. I haven't run a 10k since last summer but my old pace was around 6:10. Several of the guys said they would be running around a 6:15 pace and that sounded good so I set off with them. The first one felt comfortably hard. Could I have kept running at the end? Yes. Did I want to? No. Turns out we had run it in a sub-6 pace. We jogged back down and tackled the next one--5:45 pace. I joked about doing the third one at 5:30 pace--we didn't, but it was still sub-6. By now I could feel the marathon in my legs.
After three I wanted to stop (the workout schedule did say 3 to 5 repeats) but one my teammates suggested I do the next one a little slower and at least get in an even 4. I heeded his advice and did a 4th, still under 6:00 pace. After that one I knew I had to do all 5 but I took the last one a little easier, right around 6:08 pace--probably my actual 10k pace these days. After the repeats (including a slower 6th one to pace a teammate who still had one to go) I jogged home making it 9 miles for the night. It was a tough workout but I was really happy with myself afterward. I can't say my legs were happy with this morning, but that's why they invented the recovery run.
* Before Kemeys' statue was added in 1883 this stretch was called Cedar Hill.