Summer Running is Here

E66 Run Group @Central Park

Boom! And just like that everyone’s favorite city is back! Maybe I’m exaggerating, but maybe not! Whichever it is I’m just so darn happy and excited to see New York City alive with people and things and running and an almost sure display of fireworks come July 4th! I’m over here getting all the feels as I remember this time last year and the state of our city and our world. I don’t know about you but looking back that period sure felt surreal. Even now after having lived through it, it still feels like it was a really bad movie. But I won’t dwell, I’m too happy that we’ve progressed to a place of embracing life once more. In fact, I’m not even mad that there’s way too many people floating about Central Park and getting in my way LoL. I’ve developed a new tolerance for aimless walkers. Bless them, bless us all, we all have a right to just be.   

In other and running news, I’m hyped for the Olympic trials that are on – particularly for track and field and gymnastics. Hello to new faces and some surprise additions to Team USA! Additionally, the TCS NYC marathon is on for this November with a limited field size sure but yay to runners getting this especially special opportunity this year. We are grateful! And although I won’t be running, I’ll be cheering and supporting in my volunteer role at the finish and can’t wait to welcome some 30,000 of y’all to the finish line in Central Park! Also, the Boston, Chicago, and London marathons are also running this Fall. How awesome is that! Lots of running events are back on schedule in our city and I’ve opted to try my pace at the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile Run in September. It’s been years since I’ve done this race (maybe I’m being too ambitious) and while I’m sure I can’t do a ridiculously fast time, I’m hopeful for close to or better than my 6:15 PR, which may have been in or around 2014. Soon I’ll have to start training to give me that push I need. But humid summer days are not a running ideal so we’ll have to see about either early mornings or late evenings.

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Adding to all the excitement of our world turning once more is the wedding bells ringing in my little corner. My daughter’s getting married in the Fall y’all! And wouldn’t you know I’m the planner in chief even as I’m finding out that I’m not particularly gifted in the wedding planning department. Me is what I get when trying to cut costs, and since the costs are all mine I’m sure you understand. My daughter has no complaints and rightly so; I’m planning a beach wedding with a surprise add on. She better not complain! Haha. The truth is, God’s willing, she only gets to do this one time and since I only have one daughter –  lucky her she gets it all. That said, wedding plans amidst running plans smack dab in the midst of all kinds of crazy weather and a summer that’s setting up to be all shades of hot and humid does kinda add some verve to the rather timid spectacle of life I’ve been holding on to since March of 2020. Don’t mind if I’m a little hyped being surrounded by all this opportunity even as I remind myself we’re not out of the woods yet. Yes, there is a cloud but thankfully, there’s also a rainbow. Hope springs eternal, says the poet Alexander Pope. I concur.

Meanwhile, the run meets, groups, and clubs are slowly coming back on stream. Yippee! Not ours yet..at least not officially. However, I met up with some members of my run group for an unofficial run in our old stomping grounds of Central Park and we had such a blast revisiting the past you would think it was a high school reunion and not just slightly over a year since run group had ceased meeting. And truthfully, we’ve run together  three or four times since then, not all of us of course but most of the core members. But you couldn’t have guessed it. We were just so happy to see each other and to determine if we still had our running mojo. Happy to report that we did. We do. Things are looking up and I’m looking ahead – ahead to long runs, racing, the NYC marathon, ultimately cooler runs, and yes.. the wedding. But first, summer streets and the beach.⛱️

Global Virtual Marathon

Running View of The Hudson along Henry Hudson Drive

I took to the Jersey Hills, commonly known as The Palisades for a very uncommon or rather unconventional 26.2 miles two weeks ago. I guess this run was a make up of sorts for what was almost my yearly spring trek to Boston, which of course didn’t happen this year nor last year. In a surprising but welcome twist the Boston marathon is now happening in October this year, which falls in line with the strangest of seasons we’ve been in. These past fourteen months have been interesting to say the least and heartbreaking at best. For this reason we welcome the turn of the tide and anything that resembles a leg up from the dark hole we’ve been existing in. So I’m grateful for World Marathon Majors (WMM) and other running organizations that have worked tirelessly to get runners to keep the marathon spirit alive and allowed us a platform to come together and compete albeit in a friendly atmosphere even if the only competition is ourselves.

Along the running path – Henry Hudson Drive

I started off running at W 168th Street in upper Manhattan in pretty close proximity to the George Washington (GW) Bridge, which connects New York to New Jersey, and all too soon found myself suspended over the Hudson River running along the pedestrian path and against the traffic heading into New York. I opted for a late afternoon run in order to maximize the coolness of the day. With a tiny bag pack holding my fuel I felt pretty good heading in surrounded a plethora of trees, the cacophony of nature sounds, and dramatic views overlooking the Hudson, it was a runner’s heaven really. As with most weekends out there, there are lots of cyclists, a few walkers, and fewer still runners. I must have been 1 in 3, maybe. And all went well up to mile 10 when the last hill on the way in forced me to slow all the way down to a power walk. I figured I had to conserve energy for heading back or else I’d be walking for a long time. From then on I started running the flats and downhills and most of the uphills except for the steep climbs which I power walked without exception. Because this was a timed race with no stopping allowed, had I not decided on a power walk strategy from early on it may have been impossible to finish in the time I did.

By the time I got out of the woodsy area and was back on the bridge it was evening time and the city lights were coming on by the end of my run, which wrapped up at W 72nd and Broadway in Manhattan. Gotta say I was creamed by then and can’t remember a recent time I was so happy to see the finish line. I celebrated with a large coconut water – the best thing I had tasted all day. Marathon #20, marathon distance #21 is in the books. What’s certain is that I won’t be recommending this course and those hills for anyone who’s looking for a qualifier or who has a finish goal time of under 3:45:00.

An April for the Books and the Gym – not Overrated

Spring blooms on Park Ave

Yet another month has zipped by in what many are thinking of as the new normal. Legitimate as those thoughts might be, I’ve been spending a lot of time staying physically active in lieu of polarizing thoughts of when will things get back to “normal.” Maybe normal is overrated for what does it mean anyway. Perspective really is everything and I’ve been informing and forming my perspective so that I’ll remain healthy and in a sound mind. A sound mind is not overrated.

Arm curls in action

True to form, April has been everywhere on the weather map and that has led to some chaos in my running and gym workouts. I’ve been all over the place – from running in the mornings, sometimes just to gym and back at a tempo pace to more medium mid afternoons and early evening runs. Wherever, whenever, however it works out I’m in the game and staying active. So with running ( shorter runs) and being in the gym at least five days a week – my new “normal,” you’d be right to think there isn’t a lot of time left. Between work, working out, running, and these endless on-line events, I’m about ready to have a fit, and the first casualty will be my computer I’m almost sure of it. Because the truth is I’m exhausted with all this online activity. I’m over-ready to get into a real room, not a zoom room, with real people, and have real conversations, that effects tangible change and have tangible, spur-of-the- moment results. Face-to-face conversation/ communication is so not overrated.

Solo Deadlifts

The best part about 2021 so far has been getting back in the gym! That, my friends, is not overrated either. The classes, comradery, competition, stories, even the sweating and complaining, it’s all good, healthy, and fun stuff. I’m having the time of my life after a year hiatus brought on by Covid. I kid you not that working out and exercise have literally saved lives this past year – obviously that’s true for always – but particularly in the past year because it provided a mental release/ outlet from all the stress and general fallout from the pandemic that has been associated with health, economic, social, and physical changes to our cities, country, and world. Effects that we’re still dealing with both individually and collectively. The gym is my safe haven. So what if it’s a bit different with less people and with having to make sure to reserve a spot and wear a mask and sanitize hands as well as wipe down all the material used. These are mere extras, not inconveniences – aside from the mask-wearing, as they’re actual healthy practices that should remain permanently in my opinion. Sorry, not sorry, that this virus has brought out the germophobe in me. I’m sure you understand though, this is all of us to some degree now – and well cleanliness cannot be overrated either. I cannot, in good conscience, say that I’m not looking forward to a world with no virus but with all the health and safety measures hammered in place. Don’t worry, it’s for our good.

Chest flys on the bosu ball

With everything this past year, and like a lot of people, I’ve had to switch gyms and landed at a location that’s not-quite-the-box but so good nonetheless. And while this means I haven’t been lifting as much as I did when I was at the other place, I have the opportunity to dabble in other things that crossfit has set the premise for while still getting to practice my lifts, which I do twice a week now. All other times it’s a mix of EMOMs and AMRAPs (crossfit terminology and styled workouts involving consecutive one minutes of work). The focus of these workouts is conditioning for either upper or lower body depending on the day. If I’m being honest, it’s been a nice change and a lot of focus on core and balance..core work was a daily practice of mine last year for around 20 minutes, six days per week so I’m happy to be continuing in that vien. Some other interesting things going on at this new facility are battle ropes, trx suspension training, sled push/pull, sand bags and a lot of Tabatha incorporated into the workouts. Oh and we still use the rowers! Rowers overrated? Never.

Meet me @ the barbells

April and gym takeaways? Stay thankful. Stay running. And stay strong. At the new gym, there’s a little something for everyone (as in every part of me) LoL: some home (crossfit) comforts and a fresh influx of challenges to overcome, and, I still get to practice my lifts – only now I go solo. Can’t honestly say that I don’t miss the good ole days of full classes, heavy lifting, in-house competitions, and lots of targeted training. It’ll be a while before that dust settles but I’m here for it. If nothing else, 2020-21 has taught me to appreciate the here and now. So I’ll just go right on appreciating my way into getting stronger everyday. Here’s to May flowers and many hours – of running and gym power.

On the run

March Running Madness: 32 Impromptu Miles

Mile 26- Along Battery City Park Esplanade, New York, N.Y.

Hey friends! I’ve been away from the blog for a few weeks as there’s been so much happening just in the first three months of the year already. Seems I may have overextended myself with other activities including running thus leading to a lack of time for writing. I should know better since with me there’s always the temptation to do more. In any event, March came and the cold weather hung around dragging out to the very end. In fact, we’ve had the oddest weather; from perfect days, to bitter cold, windy, and rainy downpours. Like what in the world! We’ve only not seen snow this month – minus a few early threats. It’s still early in my view though, with April showers on the way, and snow in April is not unheard of.

Be that as it may, I made a determined effort this month to get back to regular gym workouts and to continue running, cycling has been on hold pending improved weather conditions. While my running hasn’t been excessive, I have managed to run at least five days per week this month, albeit shorter distances. What happened was, a few of us from my  pre-covid run group decided on a March intention – to run the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon, which of course went virtual this year. We agreed to run solo, in the interest of those running for time, and then follow up with a fun run a week later. Mission accomplished! A couple weekends ago, I ran an out and back in Queens, as my NYC Half, with a couple breath-catching stops along the way and opted to pass on running for time owing to the stops I had made. Nonetheless, I did manage to feel pretty good about my efforts and felt pretty confident I could do a longer run. So much so, that that I went ahead and signed up straight away for the global virtual marathon organized by World Marathon Majors ( WMM) on
May 1. That fun run though, well that turned into something else.

Lo and behold, this past weekend, we took off for that “fun” run with a couple of runners deciding on a perimeter run around Manhattan – 32 miles – they having trained for this distance. The rest.of the group chose to hop on for certain segments, while myself and another runner opted to start off with the ultra runners and see how far we could get to. No surprise, I ended up running the full distance though no training made the latter part a tough run. Don’t do that please. The truth is I probably would not have been able to complete that distance had the organizers not planned it down to the tiniest detail to include a slow-to-medium steady pace to ensure completion in under 5 hours.

Mile 22 – Along the East River Esplanade

In fact the planning was so great, I would forgive you for thinking they had something to do with the weather, which was perfect for running. And since Manhattan is an island surrounded by water, the views were nothing short of stunning. We enjoyed a seamless transition from one stage of the run to the next and had a good support and tracking system that enabled us to pick up runners along the way and meet at preselected rendezvous/ fuel points. I was so impressed with the organization and support that it felt natural to finish with the group and I’m sure I was the only one putting pressure on myself to finish. I felt strong up until mile 25, but from then on my feet were definitely dragging. It was only out of sheer stubbornness, and the amazing support, from other runners, that I finished up the final seven miles. Dead is an apt description for how my feet felt when we got done but mann what a great feeling of accomplishment! I had only ever done one other ultra marathon before and that one was over five hours, so imagine my satisfaction to come in under five.

All’s well that ends well. I can’t promise that I’ll do that again without training, but as we know crazy things happen all to often and I’m way too open to impromptu runs of any nature. Thank God it turned out all right in the end.

Snow Running Is On

I used to say I would never, that I can’t, and that I won’t ever be caught alive..LOL..running in a foot of snow. Why would I do that? I’m not crazy. In fact, I don’t even like snow like that or the cold at all for that matter! In the future, remind me how not fun it is to eat one’s words, as I’m having to gorge out right now. Since February began, I’ve been running every which way and sideways in some really freezing conditions with snow and ice everywhere. I’m not even kidding y’all. I haven’t seen such icy conditions for such a prolonged period of time in a minute or, more precisely, in some years. Like what is going on around here? I’m dealing with it in the only way I know how, telling myself that somewhere out there in this big world somebody[s] need this cold and that the cycle of life is necessary for human survival. Maybe so, but gosh darn its blisteringly cold at times and causing all sorts of mayhem on the roads in the United States. In addition, the runner in me cannot be silenced so I’ve been layering up and braving the elements in total defiance of conventional wisdom. Now I’m officially part and parcel of those “crazy people who go running in the snow.”

Post the snow storm

I gotta give a lot of kudos to Strava in getting me out the door – being part of an online community of runners, especially in this Covid world – has motivated me (who prize myself on being self-motivated) to stay connected and to keep logging those miles. Every now and then, I’ll get on the app and see runners all over the world doing their thing; overcoming obstacles, meeting milestones, shifting barriers – no matter how small or big they are – and I’m like, I have no excuse. I have health, strength, and two legs. So what if it’s freezing? There are layers for that. And so without a reason there is now endless opportunities for running or jogging or walking and trudging through snow. Cycling, not so much. I’m not that crazy, yet.

However, there are a few things where I draw the line: early morning runs and evening runs. These days runs typically take place midmorning to early afternoon and sometimes I find myself coming back in the latter part of the afternoon. On those days it’s usually accompanied by blazing but cold sunshine, though not as cold as under grey and cloudy skies. Can I tell you, that those grey days feel like I’m encased in an icebox of sorts and the only relief comes from burrowing into myself. I usually go for a run – run to the gym, work out, then run home, and spend a bit of time warming up when I get there before I feel human-like again. The steady motion and movement keeps my synapses firing and I generally don’t have much time to process it until I’m in the shower by which time it’s thankfully done. Talk about thankful for a delayed reaction because by then I’m in full there-is-no-way-you-could-get-me-out-the-door mode.

On the run

A few days ago, around 3 pm, I opted to go for an afternoon run after a snow storm two days prior. Because I decided on a route I hadn’t been in a bit, I was excited and careful to dress the part. I double-socked (if that’s a thing), thriple-layered my upper region, and double-layered underneath until I was sure I would be dragging with all the extra clothes. I also put on my trail running sneakers. Speed is not the goal I reminded myself, staying vertical and moving was. With all the sidewalk snow practice I’d had, you’d think I would be more adept at navigating myself through the ice and as much as 2 feet of snow in some areas. No sir. I was running – too fast sometimes – and skipping and sliding everywhere. Thankfully no falls. Though it was close at times, I managed to keep the momentum going and was wowed enough by the stark, whiteness and beauty of the winter wonderland I was in, that I all but forgot to feel cold until I had to stop to take photos. Obviously, it was a slower run but the path was pretty amazing; all scenic and rural-woodsy looking. I felt as if I was in some unknown landscape having an icy adventure, with very few humans out on the snowy trails.

Snow trail

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not necessarily looking to do that again anytime soon, it was almost 10 miles of snow after all. I think I’ll just stick to the sidewalks, back roads, and the park. I’ll keep dodging black ice, and slush, and puddles, and trudging through the areas in Queens that don’t get quite such a quick or clean sweep from the residents and snow ploughs as the city does. It sounds more dangerous than it is but it’s certainly much safer than being out in the snowy woods all alone. The greatest downside and my favorite is that the trails are so much more breathtaking and are littered with views to run for. I guess I’ll have to get back there eventually. For the sake of running views, I’ll do almost anything. 😜

Winter Brr Miles

Randall’s Island

It’s been 2021 for a minute already if you can believe it and I’m still trying to figure out my winter running plans. That’s right, it’s also Winter in these parts. And though we haven’t gotten much snow yet, it’s pretty chilly. Yours truly is not so motivated to go freeze on my own, because yes, we’re still living in a Covid world where social distancing is the new normal. Arrgh. Man was not made to live alone no matter what they tell you, we need active, life-giving relationships and steady interaction, which is necessary for thriving I’m told. So I wanna thrive! Survival happens to be overrated anyway. Enter 2021 and a new year of possibilities and hopefully more opportunities than the last.

Just us 3

Thriving in mind, I’ve decided to mix up my running with some small group runs at least once a month for the next few months while it’s cold. That, or I might just go into hibernation and we can’t have that. So Sunday gone, I headed out for a run to Randall’s Island in Manhattan. Darn it was cold! And I can promise you I would’t have left home if I didn’t have me some running company – the best kind. We decided we would try for 10 miles and add on more depending on how it felt. It didn’t. Feel good. 10 miles was enough to witness the gorgeous but chilling sunshine and the gusty views of the city once we got over the 102nd Street bridge via the East River running path. No surprise that there were other humans braving the temps. NYC is like that – people tend to the outdoors since apartment coop-up is not really a thing around here. Thankfully, we weren’t in the park so there were less of us. Still, it’s good to know you’re not the last crazy runner left. We started out at 65th and 3rd Ave and ran across the bridge on 61st to get to the East River running path and ran all the way up to 102nd Street and across the bridge to Randall’s Island. We then did an almost full loop with one bathroom stop before heading back over the bridge. Pretty simple and on the average day a very easy run.

102nd Street Bridge in the distance

It felt amazing to be out in the elements being a bit of a badass runner except it required mass effort to breathe in chilly air, talk, and face cover all at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for a face covering as it kept my face warm but I did have some gasping-for-air moments that was as a result of the cold air. We followed the same path back to our starting point and of course that went by much faster. Can’t say I wasn’t happy when it was over, though for an insane moment I contemplated running over the Queensboro bridge with another runners. Good sense prevailed however, and I ditched that idea as I felt it would be too windy going over the water at that height. We split separate ways and let’s just say I didn’t revert to normal body temperature until some 4 hours later.

In the train station

Since last Sunday, I’ve had a few runs in freezing temps but I’ve been careful to keep them brief, at the peak of the day, and to remain in motion for the duration of the run. The key to not hating running in the cold so much is to dress warmly. While you can’t really wear a lot of clothes and run comfortably, you can dress smartly with proper wicking and insulated gear to stave off the cold from penetrating your body. I usually wear triple layers on my top half, double layers for my bottom half and double up on socks, shoot for insulated gloves – weirdly enough I run with my hands in my jacket pockets, don’t ask –  and a balaclava or neck gaiter with a hat works in addition to a hoodie to keep my face protected. Even with all that most times you may still be cold, especially if it’s windy. At that point you may want to throw on a windbreaker on top of all that. The trick is to keep moving, keep it to the point, and run with the wind at your back if possible. For winter running, you really just want to get out there and back in as soon as possible. For me, the accomplishment is all in layering up and getting out the door, even if it’s just for a couple miles; distance is of minor consequence and speed even less so. My badassery, LOL, (my word) comes in knowing that I didn’t succumb to the temptations of warm duvet covers and quilts..Lord knows I wanted to..but I dug deep and found that fit chick that is often very willing to do all that’s crazy in the name of exercise.

All Peaches and Running for Christmas 🎄

@Savannah Rapids Running Trail

Took a few weeks to catch my breath and tie up some end-of-the-year loose ends. Lo and behold I ended up in Georgia, though in the weeks leading up I wouldn’t have know that would be the case. It’s not an absolute surprise of course, as I generally go home for the holidays only this year I really wasn’t sure if that family tradition would stand. It did. I’m here. And I’m glad that after much wrestling, I finally settled on what feels like the right choice. Dammed if you, dammed if you don’t really, so amidst the frantic worry of health and safety I’m in full compliance with all Covid protocols since traveling here last Monday. Fast forward to today, 2 days post Christmas already, when I took off on a run to the tune of beautiful sunshine and Fall in full bloom despite the official start of winter a few days ago.

 

Fall in Georgia brings to mind acorns, more acorns, spanish moss, lots of colors, the best running temps, and peaches of course – well it should, except I have yet to see any on my runs. Peach cobbler, on the other hand, runs aplenty in the georgian diet for those interested. No matter the lack of peaches, I’m in seventh heaven running in these parts especially on the trails and along the less traveled paths. It always takes me back to when I first came here some thirteen years ago. A bit of a star-gazer back then, still am, I was more wont to run and dream. I mean running makes everything better right. Every dream is more possible, goals seem more probable, thoughts become crystalized and even plans take flight with these steps. Running amidst the pine cones and spanish moss sure birthed a lot of possibilities that had a lot of potential. In fact, it’s where my first idea to run the New York City marathon germinated. Now, four of those and sixteen others later, I have to say running in these parts even today, sure does feel a bit magical still.

 

Running through my old neighborhood, and a few new ones, makes me appreciative of the differences in topography -gentle slopes makes for easy running – and boy do I appreciate sidewalks a whole lot more. I also enjoy the quiet and scenery a lot while running, it’s really a treat for the eyes, and so I’m able to fully appreciate the running experience here while being thankful for what I have in New York. I am tickled to run around my old stomping grounds and love stopping for photos of the most picturesque and memorable scenes I’m able to capture on my phone. I’m having so much fun visiting old running haunts and finding new ones and hope to add a few more miles to my 2020 mileage before I leave on Friday.

 

Additionally, I’ve visited the gym a few times already and while they’re not following strict Covid guidelines with masks etc it appears it’s an individual decision to go and then to take the necessary precautions, which I am, so that works for me. I’m happy to be running, and working out in the gym, and visiting my family, and seeing my friends safely. That I even have the opportunity for all this is an amazing blessing and I’m super thankful.

 

I think it’s important, given all the angst we have with how things have progressed over the past nine months, to finish off this year with purpose and passion and nothing quite does that for me like running does. In these final days of 2020, I will focus on the wonderful things I enjoy and the good things about my life and about our world. It is no secret that running and my faith in God continues to keep me. I pray it keeps you too.

New Life in Trying Times. Not the Gyms!

Post at-home workout

As if this year hasn’t been tough enough on everyone and incredibly hard on small business, gyms are more than likely to see another shutdown before year’s end. I can’t even! Literally, I can’t even process the impact this is having on the fitness community. When I think of the blood, sweat, and tears that have made many a fitness enterprise and the community they serve, it breaks my heart to see their efforts reduced to what we face today. Covid-19 has hit the fitness community as many others where it hurts the most. It has forced many into insolation, abandonment, evacuation, migration, and that’s only the physical effects. God help us, we still have to struggle with the affects of any and all of those decisions. I’m not one for lamenting or crying over spilt milk but man this is a doozy of a year. I’m ready to fly away somewhere, anywhere, where there’s just ordinary people living ordinary lives in a natural setting somewhere. I’m not even fussy, only let me have the ocean nearby please.

🧡VACCINES🧡

Before the calm must come the storm so while we might be in for a tough few weeks heading into the new year, there’s a silver lining out there with the vaccines that are due out next month on a limited basis. Who would have ever thought that word would elicit excitement much less two orange hearts! How times have changed. I know some are wary, and for sure many have their own opinions about it, but I encourage you to do your research in order to be armed with the best information to empower your choices. While you do so the facts remain that we need to mask up and follow proper social distancing and hand washing protocols to remain safe and to provide that same benefit to others. All things considered, and there remains a lot to be considered, that’s not such a bad deal after all. We are blessed to be here.

🧡GYMS🧡

On another note, and I’m all over the place with all that’s going on, I’ve been so perturbed about the gyms because I’m an avid gym goer, or at least I was up to March of this year, and I’ve been chomping at the bit to get back in there safely. I’ve also had my reservations about wearing a mask and working out. I’m sure that’s not on anyone’s list of ten things to do, but I really have to just get over it already. Some people have bigger issues and here I am stressing over masking up to exercise. Some people have no sense of priorities! I should be so grateful that I even have that choice and, the truth is I really am so enough with my whining. Of more import is another issue I’ve been grappling with, where shall I go? With all the restrictions in place and the changes to gym schedules and basic programming, I’m suddenly at a loss as to what to do. In fact, I’m not even sure if crossfit is an option right now. But I figure it’s more important to get back in at some level and figure out the rest after. These are different and challenging times, it’s certainly expected that I’d be a bit confused. That said, I’m in the process of working out a location that’s easily accessible and a bit versatile. No surprise that the pickings are rather few. We’ll just have to see how that goes.

🧡NEW YORK🧡

In the past 10 years, I’ve never been away from the gym for more than a week, two max when it was for a vacation. Y’all, it’s been eight months! The human spirit is resilient as heck and we often don’t give ourselves enough credit for bouncing back from incredible setbacks and difficult and trying situations. This year has certainly been all that and it remains to be seen how things progress here on. I remain hopeful though. New Yorkers are a tough bunch and while each city and state, and certainly every country, has had its own unique challenges to face in this pandemic, New York City has kicked some serious Covid ass. I’m praying that when the dust settles, amidst all the loss and grief of those we lost, we fill find that most of us are still standing, running, working, eating and drinking, gyming—my own word, busy living life and fighting for every part of this big apple we call home.

26.2 miles of New York City: unofficially marathon #20

E66 Run Group

Bet 2020 didn’t think I had it left in me! After all the crazy dished out this year, the opportunity to run a marathon this Fall was a blessing, a clap-back, and a slight risk all at once. All things considered and with the recommended guidelines in place, we chalked up any reservations we had and got all excited to run. And run we did. Last Saturday we, my pre-covid run group, and still my run group, took a jaunt through manhattan on our own New York City marathon distance, some of us anyway, the others chickened out and did a half. LOL. I’m kidding. No chickens. We had decided a few weeks ago that some people just weren’t prepared for 26.2 miles just yet – many not having run much this year at all. And so a couple of us opted to push ahead and tackle the distance. In fact, I had only gotten to 18 miles in training and was willing to swing it for the remaining distance. I usually tell people who ask to listen to your body and go with your training, a bit of advice that, more often than not, works pretty well. This time I heeded my own advice and was the poster child for listening to one’s body. Early on, I had decided that if I could do 18 miles mildly uncomfortable, then I could finish a marathon distance. I went in knowing that while it mightn’t end pretty, it would be doable.

November is known for its versatile weather in NYC. I have a number of past nyc marathon experiences to hail from when it comes to the unpredictability of the weather during this month. Fom wet, cold, windy days to hot, humid, and even perfect conditions, I’m almost certain that we’ve had a snowy one in there too; there’s just no accounting for what a typical marathon day in November in this city could look like. In 10 years I’ve seen them all. So while we were hoping for good running weather, we didn’t really hang out hopes on it. When we got 45°- 50°F we were thrilled. Sunshiny, partly cloudy, and with some early wind was a bargin really. Two of us started out just after 8:15 am Saturday morning and ran from the East Side of mid-Manhattan over to the west side highway and down along the waterfront to Battery Park for a looped distance of 13 miles whereupon we met up with 8 others to run the latter half of our marathon and their half marathon. We were supposed to have met up with another runner in our earlier half who we eventually saw in the latter half of the run, he having run the full distance also, albeit via a slightly different route.

It is worth mentioning that for all the nyc marathons I’ve run, this is the first time it didn’t feel like such a chore, though to be honest the Fifth Ave leg of the run felt just as difficult as previous times, and this is without the crowds. What! Why! I don’t know. For sure it has always been the most difficult part of the marathon and this time proved no different. It was long, tedious, uphill-ish, and having to use the cobble sidewalks, which I avoided at all cost, did not make it any easier. I lagged the entire way until we got to the park as I had taken a wrong turn in Harlem and fell behind. There was just no way I was catching up and I opted not to kill myself trying. It was such a beautiful day for running, it was no surprise to see endless runners among others out in Central Park enjoying the sunshine. We did one lower loop then the hills were too much to take and so a couple of us headed out the park to do the final 2.5 miles on Park Avenue. By that time, I was ready to finish, muscles were tight and sore and I was getting cold. We finished up at our run group location at Lululemon on the Upper East Side in a record 3:32 time minus a bathroom break in the earlys and 2 water stops. Not bad at all to the tune of a masked-covered runner’s reunion with snacks and socks instead of medals. LOL.

And that my friends was a wrap to my 20th marathon distance, the only unofficial one and the one I enjoyed the most. Technically, I shouldn’t still be getting lost and running off course – veteran of the course that I am – and so maybe I missed my chance of having a better 5th Ave experience because of that, but I guess I’ll never know now. Regardless, I’m chuffed that we were able to get together and respond in a positive way to all that 2020 dished out. Running and friends to the rescue of a year headed for the history books as one of the most difficult and mentally challenging years yet. By God’s grace we are still here and we even have a couple of runs planned through December. We will get through this one run at a time.

Marathon Season 2020

It happens every year around this time, New Yorkers fall into marathon mode. This year, notwithstanding Covid-19 and all the challenges it presents, we’re moving ahead full steam to take back what has been stolen, or at the very least what we’ve been cheated out of. And damn it it feels good! With all the virtual racing going on in lieu of typical road races, I’ve been feeling pretty isolated and so I decided to get everyone together for a kick-Covid-ass 26.2 run.

Truth is with everything and everyone on shutdown since March, folks are not ready for a full marathon distance. I don’t know that I am, but I’m all for giving it a try and among the old running crew there might be a few others crazy enough to have a go at it. I’m betting on it anyway. It’s hard to believe that we’re heading for November and what would have been the NYC marathon in just over a week! Except of course there’s no actual race this year..though the virtual race is set spanning a week or so and anyone anywhere in the world can sign up and participate via Strava. You can run the 26.2 distance wherever you are: get folks to support and run with you, have your own cheer squad, post pics, and tag race organizers doing it all your way and at your pace and convenience. Cool huh! I suppose that’s one way of keeping the spirit of the race alive.

We’ve planned our own version right here in NYC on November 14. A few, or dozen, of us plan on doing at least half of the 26.2 miles making use of the latter part of the nyc marathon course starting in Manhattan on the east side and running through Harlem, down Fifth Ave to finish up the final 3 miles in Central Park and end at the official nyc marathon finish line on Tavern on the Green. I, on the other hand, with at least one other – so far, plan on starting out earlier that morning to complete the first half (13.1 miles) before meeting up with the others to run the remaining distance. We’ll start out with the lower loop of Central Park and head out on Central Park West to run over to the West Side Highway where we’ll run a few miles heading downtown and do a loop to run back to meet with the other runners. Sounds easy enough but really I have no idea how I’ll feel that day. I haven’t run a marathon distance since last November and my longest run thus far has been 15 miles. I’m hoping to up that a bit this weekend but even so it’s still limited training in so far as long runs are concerned. Still, I like to think it’s like riding a bike, the body absolutely knows how to do it, it’s just getting it to remember and cooperate.

When this year started out, I had few running intentions really, just to do a spring triathlon and run the Chicago marathon. Because of Covid, neither panned out but it’s been years that I’ve been running a marathon almost every Fall and at the very least once for the year, even with the way things have gone in 2020, and because things have gone the way they have, I feel it’s even more necessary to show some fighting spirit and not allow the year to end on a note of defeat with many despairing and bemoaning the times. I refuse to sit down and take what life throws at me. I can run at least; thank God for good health and the ability to do so. And so that will be my response to this mess of a year. Speaking intentionally, the intention is to finish within 4 hours. While 3 & 1/2 hours would be great, I have low expectations given the training aspect as well as the biggest unknown factor, our infamous November weather, which can be anywhere on the weather map. Daunting prospects anyone?

Actually, I feel fine about the entire adventure. Yes, that’s what it is. We’re heading out on a dare-to-run-adventure that says more about us than anything else. I have to prove, to no one but myself, that I am fully capable of finishing what I start. And finish I intend to. I have a couple long runs left in me before the day and we’re about to find out just how a New Yorker does running pandemic or no pandemic. Stay tuned to find out how it goes!

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