12.14.2008

Blood Day

Every so often, our junior high PE teacher would have what he would
affectionately call "blood days." At an age when many school
employees are contemplating retirement, he was conducting multiple
classes a day and in impressive physical shape. And on blood days, he
would work us out to the point of exhaustion. Though we loved him, we
hated his blood days.

In my pre-fatherhood days, running "Yasso 880's" were my blood days.
Yasso 880's were "invented" by a Bart Yasso, who thought people
training for marathons should mix in some speed work, and so
encouraged people to run 10 two-lap intervals at whatever time in
minutes and seconds as they wanted to run a marathon in hours and
minutes (i.e. two laps in 3 minutes and 30 seconds if you were
shooting for a marathon time of 3 hours and 30 minutes).

3:30 was indeed my goal, and so once or twice a month, I would run a
mile to Franklin Field on the Penn campus and knock out ten of them,
with a half-lap jog in between each interval. No one will ever accuse
me of being a speed demon, or of being an endurance runner for that
matter, yet I found Yasso 880's to be challenging but doable. And,
despite usually enjoying scenery when I run, I began to like the
sameness of going around the same track over and over again. (The
cushioned ground probably helped, too.)

But I hadn't done a Yasso 880 in years, as fatherhood has tended to
limit my running, both in terms of what time of the day I can go and
how long I can go for. But with Amy taking the kids to her parents'
for the afternoon, I had the opportunity to take my time. I didn't
even have Yasso 880's in mind when I headed out, but once I cut
through the Penn campus, I remembered and decided to head for Franklin
Field.

I'm in OK shape but not as good as even a few years ago, so the
intervals were considerably harder but still doable. After a while,
as before, I hit my stride, and the monotony of running around the
same track over and over again was actually restful and comforting, if
that makes any sense. When I was done, I had a big smile on my face,
and made mental note to do this again. But not for a while; blood
days have a way of leaving you pretty sore.

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