Success in track and field is all about learning to embrace the uncontrollable.  And because of this, (like Coach Lananna before him,) Coach Rowland likes to have me show up for practice ready for anything, clueless of the details of my upcoming workout until five minutes before the first rep.  I like it too; I don’t dwell on what lies ahead, and I get to practice responding to whatever comes my way.

As is my usual routine, I padded over to Rowls after a warmup with a couple drills and light strides to receive my instructions for the session.  Prepped for “anything” I imagined 4×1 mile at sub-five minute pace, or a mix of long and short intervals that would grind me into dust; I steeled myself for the worst.

“Alright Lauren, you’re with Sally [Kipyego] today.  We’re starting with an 800 in 2:14 for you and 2:10 for Sally but I want you to run the first lap right behind her at 65 and then Sally can squeeze and you can settle.  Then we will do the other 75% of the workout.”

In my mind:  Wow.  2:14.  That’s not what I was expecting.  I guess I do have a 1500 this weekend…better do a few more strides!

After 2 more hard strides, I tucked in behind Sally and we were off.  We were flying, but I had expected 65 to feel fast.  I hadn’t run much faster than 70 in a looooong time.  Passing through 400 meters, Rinker and Rowland read the stopwatch out loud, “60!  61!  Now just run a 65!”

Holy shit.

Considering my PR for the 400 is like 59, I was expecting my legs to fall off somewhere around 600 meters.  But somehow I stayed right on Sally’s butt, waiting for the moment when bootie lock would cripple me.  In fact, I felt so good with 150 to go, I had to resist surging into the lead.  Its not a race.  Sally did all the work, what’s the point in acting like a hero at the finish?  Besides, she could probably run a hell of a lot faster than this as well.

“2:05!  2:06!”

I’m pretty sure my eyes bugged out of my head and my arms flew up like a surprise gold medal winner.

Even on my lap jog recovery, I literally stopped my teammate in her tracks to share the news:  “I PR’d in the 800, Geena!”  I was elated.  Only last summer I was holding a twitter contest, asking my follower to guess my 800 time in my only track race of 2009, a small meet in Cardiff, Wales.  I ran 2:09 that day, and it hurt like a mofo.

So I guess things are coming around better than I thought.  This whole week has been spent wiped out from the rest of that brutal session, and I may or may not be recovered in time for tomorrow’s 1500 race at Hayward Field, but it doesn’t matter.  I’m still blissed-out that I ran 2:06 in practice.  With a little luck, tomorrow’s race will be a great workout stimulus for me, getting me that much closer to a good race at USA’s in four weeks.