Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Earning Friendship

For the past few weeks my friend Jenny and I have been meeting at McCormick Park (near downtown, along the Clark Fork River) at 6:30am (yes, it's still dark) to run and then do some strength training.

Jenny was my first ever running partner, back when we started doing the Couch-to-5K plan together back in August of '06. And she remains one of my favorite running buddies-- she has some grit-- she always shows up, no matter how hard it is to get out of bed or how tired she is from the day before-- which really helps motivate me and keeps me accountable on those mornings when I could easily just hit the snooze bar just a FEW more times! Also, Jenny has a great sense of humor, and we always have something to talk about-- whether it's work/school-related, what we ate last night that's sitting heavy in our stomachs this morning, where we fantasize about going on vacation, what new scores on clearance-rack shoes we've found.... on and on we chat, until the time has flown by and we're done with our run.

But today we paused in the conversation for a bit. The annual Missoula Women's Run is coming up in a few weeks. This will be Jenny's 4th 5k, and for the first time her goal is not just to finish, but to finish under a certain time. She just shared this goal with me on Monday, and asked me to show her what the pace would be like to do the race in that time. So this morning we headed to the track-- a little graveled track along the river trail about 3/4 mile from our starting point. So we jogged to the track nice and slowly, and then kept our easy pace for one lap. 2:51, or about an 11:24 min/mile pace.

Then we kicked up the pace to Jenny's goal pace. No talking on this lap. I was concentrating hard on trying to hit the pace right on. I've realized that since I've started doing pace work, I've gotten pretty decent at "feeling" a pace. My breathing is the best indicator of how fast I'm going, but I can also tell by the turnover of my legs. So I concentrated on those signs, and checked my watch at the half-way point. And when we got to the end, I looked at my watch again: exactly on our goal, which was 2:34, or a 10:17 min/mile pace.

We walked a bit to recover, then did another lap at this pace. This time I had a little better sense of what we needed to do, so I was able to chat. Jenny focused on her breath, and concentrated on what it felt like to maintain that pace for a 1/4 mile.

We walked again, and then did 2 repeats of 2 laps at race pace, again with me talking about race strategies, about how to be okay with the less-than-comfortable pace, about my strategy to focus on my form when things get tough and I want to quit. And Jenny worked on breathing, keeping her legs turning over steadily, and not chewing me out for being such a perky early morning coach :) She did great!

On our slow jog back to our starting point, she told me about how she was at a dinner party with several gals the other night and told them about our morning workouts and how I always come prepared with a plan for the day. "Wow," one of the girls said, "Carly should charge people like $5 a day to come work out with her."

I laughed! I come with my own workout plan every day, anyway. Having someone there to do it with me just adds that much more motivation and fun. But, then again, $5 would add up after a while, and I could buy another pair of shoes...

So Jenny and I started joking about how her friendship MUST be worth the $5 a day that she would pay me for my workouts. So my pseudo-coaching is really just how I'm earning her friendship :)

But you know, the real vale of our friendship is completely priceless.

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