Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous spring day. The skies were blue, the clouds were big and white and puffy, the sun was shining, and it was just warm enough to be nice but just cool enough to go for a run without getting too hot. In short, the perfect day for a run, which is why all the non-runners came out to play. I include myself in that count, having run about 20 miles total in the last two months.
With the Country Music Marathon only three weeks a day, I realized that my five mile run last weekend probably wouldn’t cut it as a training run, so I set out to get in an 18-22 miler. I planned to head over to circle Central Park (about 7 miles), then run over to the West Side Highway, head all the way downtown to Battery Park and stop to meet Boyfriend at the office (about 8 miles), and finally run back up home (about 7 miles). My plans got derailed, but I’m still pretty proud of how I did.
I headed over to Central Park and started running counterclockwise around the southern tip. Just as I reached the top of Cat Hill (whew), I saw my friend Becca running toward me! She exclaimed, “I was wondering if I would see you out here! I know you never run lately but it was such a gorgeous day that I figured you might have sucked it up and come out.” Bingo! I had wanted to catch up with her anyway and was planning to call her later that day, so I turned around to run clockwise with her. Unfortunately, she had started the loop at 72nd on the West side and was almost done, so I ended up only covering about 4 miles in the park instead of the 7 I had planned. We stopped for water, and Becca told me she was headed to a triathlon symposium at the JCC, so I decided to walk with her and check it out. My knees were a bit sore, as they usually get when I switch from running to walking, so I hoped that I’d be able to get going again later and didn’t just stop at 4 miles. At the symposium, though I was tempted to remind everyone that they were more likely to die than us smarties who just run marathons, I refrained, and contented myself with filling out free entry forms for various giveaways that I wouldn’t use as a runner.
Becca and I parted ways after about an hour of walking around, and I was pleased to find that my knees no longer were sore. I headed west, cutting through the Boat Basin where I discovered a couple friends at a birthday party… for their friend’s dog. All of the couples there had their dogs, and it was like this weird SATC-ish society of yuppies having a dog birthday party. I mean, who does that? Those were my initial reactions, but as I left and started running and reflecting, I realized… I want to do that. I want to have a dog and I want to celebrate her birthday and be all preppy like that. Sigh.
Running down through Riverside Park and the Hudson River Park, I remembered why I love running. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and there were tons of people lying out on the grass sunbathing and playing frisbee. I felt strong and good, and I was jogging at a very relaxed pace that allowed me to enjoy the beauty of the day instead of worrying about time – amazing. Long runs are my favorite because I don’t have to stress about pushing myself to go faster or harder – I just run until I reach my distance goal.
I was getting pretty thirsty by about mile 9 (I don’t bring water bottles when I run, and so I rarely drink until I hit 15 miles or so and willt ake the time to go to a convenience store), and I tried the fountains in the Hudson River Park, but none of them seemed to be turned on. I was comforted that at least I was approaching the Nike Runners Station and could get water there, but that turned out to be closed still for the winter season. Darn it! However, I was only another 2 miles or so from South Ferry, where I was meeting Boyfriend, so I decided to just hold out until I reached there and we’d go to Starbucks or something before I headed back uptown. It seemed that my run was getting broken up into a lot of shorter segments, but I decided that was probably a good thing, so I went with it.
I reached Boyfriend’s office at about mile 12.5, and pulled my cell phone out of my sports bra where I had stowed it (yeah, the tourists by the Statue of Liberty loved that). However, when I called Boyfriend, I found out that he had actually just left the office! I was really bummed, but it was kind of my fault – I had told him I’d call when I was there, which I did, but my relaxed pace and hour or so break for the triathlon made me so late that he just assumed I wasn’t coming, and decided he would rather finish his work from home.
Dejected, I decided to take the subway uptown instead of running back; however, I got off a few stops before my usual stop in order to add another 1.5 miles to come in with an even 14. I felt great when I got home – there is nothing like a long shower after a long run!
This morning, I had absolutely no soreness or pain… amazing! I can’t believe how easy it was for me to get back into it, and I’m now a lot less scared about the Country Music Marathon in a few weeks. I was starting to wonder if it would take me months of training to get back into multi-marathon shape, and while I know one 14 mile run does not a marathoner make, the fact that I was able to just go out there and do it without any pain makes me think I’ll be okay.
Tomorrow is Biggest Loser night, so I’ll aim for another 13 miles on the elliptical. Unfortunately, this weekend I don’t have any time for a long run, so I’m hoping I can do a 20 miler before or after work one day early next week. For those New Yorkers reading, I know the general rule is “no running in the park when it’s dark,” but what are your thoughts on running at 5:45 AM? That’s not really that early, but it’s currently still dark at that hour so I’m not sure. I’m thinking I could do an hour (6-7 miles) before work and then get in another 2 hours (about 13 miles) after work, whcih I know isn’t the same as doing it all in one shot, but it would still get me used to the distance. Thoughts?