Thursday, September 8, 2011

Long Run, Good Company, and Some Bonus Miles - Part 1

You know what I've noticed? I tend to neglect the blog when I neglect my training. Maybe that's not something I should be sharing, but it's true. Very fortunately, this was not the case for this week's long run, which was fantastic and will be the primary topic of this post. But it was the case for the end of last week, when I should have run a couple of 8 mile days but really only did a couple per day. It was terrible, and I guess it makes sense that I wouldn't want to write about it. What's there to write, really? "Today I should have run a lot but I didn't because [insert reason]. Oops." This has gotten me in trouble before because if I lose momentum during a week of training, it's much more difficult to achieve what I need to AND get myself back to that level of motivation. Something to be aware of. For example, last week I did a 5 mile run on a day that called for a 4-miler and intended to my 8-miler the next day. What I should have done (and it was in the back of my mind, I just didn't commit) was just suck it up and run that extra 3 miles. That would have kept me satisfied with my training AND kept me covered for my 8 mile run. Then, I would have been more likely to stay on track with my Saturday run, as well.

Something I need to work on is letting things go. Rather than allowing something like this to impact the rest of my training, I need to learn to let it go. That doesn't mean being okay with slacking off, it means being as enthusiastic and optimistic at the middle and end of the week as at the beginning, regardless of what happens along the way. Easier said than done, but certainly something to keep in mind.

So now, onto the long run. Earlier last week I mentioned that I intended to do the 5 bridge route for my long run. As luck would have it, I received an email a couple of days later from a marathon training mailing list I'd signed up for a couple of weeks ago that said they were leading a group run along the exact same route. What a happy coincidence. If you know me well enough, you know that I have a strong preference for doing long runs (most runs, really) with company rather than by myself. While I was a little nervous since I'd never been to this group before, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get in a good, efficiently (not sufficiently, although that applies as well) early run in before quidditch tryouts later in the day.

On Sunday morning I woke up around 6:45am and got ready to go. I headed out around 7:15 and walked over to the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, where The Running Company is located. I took the elevator up to the second floor but was confused that the glass double doors were closed and locked and wondered if I hadn't made a mistake. I walked to the hallway next door and spotted a sign on the door that said to knock! Woo hoo! While I admit there was a teensy little part of me that was disappointed I wouldn't be going back to bed, a good 97% of me was very happy about it.

After about 10 or 11 runners were present in the store, the leader, Mat, entered and we got ready to go. He pulled out a bike map to show us the route:

The email I received noted that the route should have been around 16 miles. As you can see above, it was a little more than that, but we'll get into that in a bit. I could tell that a number of runners in the group were daunted but I was excited to get started. We headed out the back door and down to the street, going west on 59th street toward the West Side Highway. After about a crosstown block of walking so that those with GPS watches could get a signal, we began running to the West side and South toward Battery Park.

In the first few miles of the run, a couple of women broke off from the pack and appeared to be running a decent bit faster. A little after that, I broke off with another woman and got a little ahead of the main group as well. I could tell she was older, but I later found out that she is, in fact, 71 years old and qualified for Boston. Not only that, she was going pretty fast considering we intended to do 16 or 17 miles. I was getting worried about it, actually, and had to tell myself that if she could do it I should be able to.

After awhile I started to see signs for the Brooklyn bridge, so we stopped and waited for the rest of the group to catch up (they were only about 30 seconds to a minute behind us). We were supposed to take a left at Canal and head straight to the bridge, but since the two faster women had continued straight, we did the same and ended up running around the tip of Manhattan (a large chunk of the extra 3-4 miles). By this point, we had lost the lead two and were about to cross the Brooklyn Bridge.

Alright, I actually have a lot more of this run to write about, but I don't want it to get too long and boring, so I'm going to break it up into pieces. Stay tuned to hear about miles 8-20, the aftermath, and the rest of my training week!

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