The good news: There was no time to fully comprehend the plan for my speed workout this morning.
The bad news: It was because the west-coast based WNIT committee waited until 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time to release its 64-team field and announce that St. Bonaventure would host Robert Morris in a first-round game Thursday at 7 p.m. It’s not just that I’m East Coast-centric (I admit) but the principle among sportswriters (much like honor among thieves) is to root for your best story and personal self interest. And while the matchup, date and time are exactly what I wanted (which is all that matters, she noted sarcastically) the missed deadlines for said information, and the missed hours of sleep, were not in my personal best self interest.
Or so it seemed.
But at 6:15 a.m. when my friend Sue kindly trekked out to the waterfront to help me tackle my 500 meter repeat workouts, none of that mattered, despite much initial grumbling from me.
Using my Garmin, we were able to measure off 500 meters on the road. My prescription (as my Canadian coach calls it) was to run eight or nine sets of 500 meters in 2:40 with a 1:45 rest in between each one. Peter has told me that the first few can, and probably should, be a bit over the prescribed time. That gives me room to grow. We’d all like to be running faster and stronger at the end of the run.
With the first few in the 2:45-2:41 range, I was on target with that philosophy.
Sue was not doing speed work, but getting in her light run for the day by jogging up and down our 500-meter path.
When she decided to be my “rabbit” my pace picked up and my times dropped. This made Sue very excited and she continued to take a 10-15 second lead so I could chase her down.
My times continued to drop with each interval. The sun was just beginning to rise in downtown Buffalo and clear sky, the cool yet palatable morning air pushed everything else out of my mind. It doesn’t always happen — being present in the moment in complete enjoyment. It particularly doesn’t always happen when, after running a hard 500 meters, you’re pushing back your puke threshold. Yet there was something simple, beautiful and calming about the speed work this morning.
Or maybe I was just hallucinating from lack of sleep.
After interval No. 8 Sue suggested that I finish off with interval No. 9.
“We have to run back in that direction any way,” she pointed out. It was something I had thought about by interval No. 6 when math and logic had awaken from their peaceful slumber. But I didn’t have to do interval No. 9.
“It’s up to you,” Sue said. “But I think you’ve got it in you.”
Yep. That’s all I needed to hear. Because she was right. I could completely do all nine intervals. It was a matter of what I believed I could do. A matter of selling myself short.
It reminded me of something Bona women’s basketball coach Jim Crowley said to me the night before after his team earned back-to-back postseason berths for the first time in program history. Going to a tournament, he said, “has become the norm.”
For the Bona program, it’s an amazingly healthy kind of balance of expectations. It’s expecting excellence and effort and attitude without the added weight of negative pressure. It’s allowing yourself to expect to be good, to do the work required to be good, without the fear of what might happen if you fail. It’s about being displeased with poor results, about being unhappy with losing, but not in letting the results define who you are.
It’s an amazingly powerful and free place to live.
From that place, I completed my ninth interval. My legs were heavy. The 500 meters felt somehow much, much longer. And yet I still finished. In 2:39.
I take that back WNIT.
It was all good news.
Sometimes we actually get what serves our best self-interest without even knowing.