Today was my first attempt at doing speed work on my own in the wee hours of the morning. Coach Jeff had me down for 6 x 800m at my marathon goal time with the same amount of recovery in between. So if my goal time for the Pocono Mountain Marathon is 3 hours, 45 minutes, then I should run the 800s in 3 minutes, 45 seconds and recover for 3 minutes 45 seconds in between. These are better known as Yasso 800s. The idea is that being able to run (in minutes and seconds) ten 800s is a good predictor of your marathon goal time (in hours and minutes).
I warmed up by running to the local high school track then started the workout. It's been a while since I've done track work. When we ran 800s at Nike Speed they were always at a slightly than faster 5k pace. I thought, if I could do 800 at 3:30, surely 6 x 800 at 3:45 would be no problem. I really didn't know what an 3:45 800 felt like so I started out at what felt like a comfortable pace. Turns out my first split was 3:31, really? Since when did 3:31 feel comfortable? I recover and begin 800 #2. Guess what my split was? Anybody? Bueller? All right, I'll tell you, 3:30! Clearly my body shifted to auto pilot and charted a course that was different than the original. I said to myself, WTF Ansky, just run these at the pace you know how to and talk to Coach about it later. With that mindset, I finished the remaining intervals in 3:28, 3:27, 3:29, and 3:28.
I mentioned this to Coach later in the day and he replied back, "Fantastic, then we make 3:28 your new marathon goal time." I wasn't sure if he joking, serious, or some of both. Honestly, I think 3:28 is way out my league. I know I'm usually the first person to tell other not to sell themselves short, but going from a current marathon PR of 3:52 to 3:28 seems nuts. After some back and forth, coach and I agreed that it was too early in the training cycle to make a decision. So for now we're going to play it by ear see how the training goes. At the very least I am encouraged that I was able to crank out a good set 800s early on in the training cycle.