May Flowers and all that jazz about running

The Heather Garden @ Ft. Tryon

I’m not even gonna bother with the fact that we’re in May except to say it’s been interesting around here with April showers showing no sign of stopping. With a weather that’s been all over the map this year, one kinda just has to go with the flow and so running just sorta happens these days. In addition, my back issue continues to mess with me, which makes it harder to get into a steady running flow. But yours truly is always up for a challenge and I’m confident, by God’s grace, that I’ll get there. In the past, patience hasn’t been a strength of mine but I promise I’m getting better and so there remains hope for other areas as well. I have a marathon to train for y’all! And these sneaky months are almost too much. The summer’ll be over before it even gets here and then it’ll be marathon time! I can’t process that right now, so I won’t. One day at a time sweet Jesus, as my mom would say when I was little. If there is a lesson to be learnt, and there is, it’s to be present HERE (wherever that is for you) and to live each day fully. Nothing less required, nothing more expected.

Pink and Red Azeleas

Living each day fully simply means focusing on the present and what one can do right here. It means smelling the flowers, cherishing its beauty, appreciating its purpose, and allowing oneself to be wowed by it all. So how about those flowers then? The literal ones: those cherry blossoms, lavenders, irises, tulips, daffodils, azeleas, pansies, peonies, dogwood and magnolias. And then there are the figurative ones: health, opportunity, family, relationships, gifts, talents, faith, etc. I’ll be honest, literal flowers are by far prettier and so much less complicated and messy. That’s not to say I’ll choose them over what I’ve got, well not always anyway. LOL. Don’t worry, this is as deep as I’ll get. Spring blossoms and so does the garden in my mind. I’m suddenly all about rooting out the weeds and making room for new seeds and giving the flowers an atmosphere to blossom fiercely. After two years that felt like a drought of sorts, I imagine we can all benefit from some mental spring cleaning and taking the time to tend the garden of our minds. Till the soil, uproot some things, plant some seeds and water/love the plants and watch them bloom. Sounds like work. Sounds like it’ll take some time. Sounds like an investment. But oh, the returns!

Purple Pansies (above) and Candy Tuft

Can I tell you that running in the Springtime is a renewing, refreshing, and affirming exercise. It is simply exhilarating to literally inhale the fresh sweet smell of the flowering trees, to take in the bees greedily guzzling up the nectar from their favorite flowers and the butterflies pollinating from flower to flower, while the birds try out their new spring songs and squirrels dash about crazily in the hopes of a treat. You might even be treated to some jazzy notes from a random performer (not-so-random I think) or even get to strike up a note w a quartet at various points. This is the scene in our city parks this Spring my friends. If you’re able to, you want to take advantage and get out there to witness this pleasing assault on your senses while upping your heart rate and trading off any anxiety and stress. You’ll find that the benefits far outweigh the sacrifices of the couch, getting up earlier, pushing through exhaustion, and/or lacing up those shoes and going for a run. Also, while you’re out, it is worth your while to quite literally stop and smell whatever version of roses or flowers you meet. That’s one way to tend to “the garden” and sow some seeds.

White Azeleas

You can probably tell I’m a bit of a messy soul. Yes, plants and nature and gardening are my jam. Along with running, and biking, and hiking and a hundred other things. I’m literally a LOL kinda gal so forgive me for wanting to drop that all over my writing, and let’s just say I get around with my interests and activities. I recently went out trotting in our city with the sole intent of checking out spring happenings in “the garden” around me and it was such a treat – a party for my senses really. The result was a barrage of photos of which I chose a select few for your pleasure. Flowers are pretty amazing in their tenacity (I’m taking creative licence here) to push their way out, amidst great odds at times, to assert their presence and demand our admiration. In a world with so much else vying for our attention, I think we could do a lot worse than give in a few times this Spring. Blink twice and it’ll all be gone to make way for another. Don’t mind then if I just be present here for a minute, or a day, or two. Take the time and let the flowers wow you my friends. You won’t regret it!

Virginia bluebells, Azeleas, and the GW bridge
Walking/Running Path

Running down Memory Lane: deja vu in Central Park

Jackie Onassis Reservoir, Central Park
Along the Bridal Path & Jackie O.

I can’t believe it’s been eight weeks! In fact, I’m sure it hasn’t. But I’ve done all I can with not running so there goes nothing in my report on the benefit of rest to my sciatic nerve. Nothing yet that is. I have hope to getting to the bottom of this but it will take some time and apparently I’m overdue a bout of patience so I’m practicing. As you can see the struggle is real as I couldn’t wait to get back in the running game – restrictions welcomed.

Along the East Drive
Center Drive

Blame it on Spring and the warmer (for the most part) weather. I mean I wasn’t really expected to go cold turkey like that for more than a few weeks right? Yes, that’s what I thought too. Lol. Whenever you’ve arrived at the point where you’re having conversations with yourself about running it’s time to go. And so I did.

Cherry Blossoms opp. the Met museum
Cleopatra’s Needle

Newbie brooklynite goes running in her comfort zone – that was me last Friday evening doing a loop of this slice of heaven right here in New York City. Listen, I rave about Central Park all the time. But the park in Spring, in full bloom, is something special. And while it wasn’t quite “full bloom” time, maybe a week or so to go, it was special enough that I had to stop every 800 feet to snap a pic. It was busy, beautiful, and best weather special. That means runners, strollers, cyclists, picnics, ball games, you name it..it was all happening under the blooming and flowering trees. That’s the New York I love my friends; city grit and grime and  crowded subways and smell of pot notwithstanding. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, so sang Alicia Keys. Local legend that she is, she may be on to something.

Picnic on the Great Lawn
West Drive

An oasis in the desert (tho more of a concrete jungle, again, Alicia called it) is Central Park in New York City. Six miles all the way around on the outer loop, I started at the south side of the park and touched on all the major points that had been common to me only two years ago only to realize it hadn’t gotten any flatter with time. It still rolled and will give you a good workout any day of the week. Those hills tho, they hit different this time around and it was with a sense of deja vu that I found myself going through my paces on both Cat hill and Harlem hill. Phew, no shame in my game, I’m getting older. No matter, I didn’t quit and stopped only to grab some photos. Running can be therapeutic in a lot of ways and I’m guessing many others were benefitting out there that evening.

City Skyline from the reservoir
Reservoir Loop

Additionally, it was nice to see past the crowd and connect with fellow runners just out for a run in a gorgeous part of the city on a beautiful spring evening. These days running can’t get much better than that so I’ll take the wins where I can get them and remain thankful for health, Central Park, and these legs o’mine. After all, we still have a lot of ground left to cover.

Central Park South/W 59th St. Entrance
Columbus Circle, Park side

Not a running break!

Etsy’s poster is good for my wall and Exercise is good for me! win-win 😃

Ever had to make a decision that made you want to run just to let off some steam only you couldn’t run because that was the decision? Yes, gosh dang it, me! Last week, I decided to take a six to eight week hiatus from running to see if a break from the constant pounding of my legs and knees will help alliviate the stress on my sciatic nerve. While I’ve been doing PT for this issue for a couple of months (1x p/week) it doesn’t seem to be getting any better and well I really need to go all in to figure this out. This lingering discomfort that’s restricting my movement is not my idea of a good time nor anything I want to be dealing with in Spring as the weather warms up, so I figure I need to do the unthinkable and not run. How has that been working out? Hmm, sorta.

On the heels of moving and getting myself situated, I’ve been figuring out what will work best for this current season, which I hope to be a short one, and looking at gyms/ boxes/ studios in the area while trying out different things. Amidst all that I’m committed to my PT routine and getting my full range of motion back and have been spending a lot of time stretching and working on core strength. To this end, I started doing Pilates, which took on a whole different meaning when I was introduced to the reformer machine. I ended up doing a little too much on there in the excitement and exacerbated by lower back, which had me take a step back to acknowledge my limitations and consider my options. It really is prudent to listen to your body and tame your/my competitive spirit. I’m sure you’re nothing like me though and know better than to try challenging things that could compromise the very progress you’ve been working on. No excuses. I’m a hard nut sometimes, but I’m getting better I promise!

After going around in circles for a bit, and talking with my PT guy and doing a little research, I’ve decided that the gym – crossfit-type – without the olympic-style lifting, is the safest place to be. Apparently, I store too much energy away from the gym and the safest outlet for me is to get in there and take it in smaller doses. Lol. I’m an exercise nut y’all! So I came up with a guide to help myself stay safely exercised: some minor running to/from workout (one and a half miles away) for the next six weeks and modified workouts of any type of pushing, pulling, pressing, squatting, or any type of exercise that involves my lower back. My goal in this season is to stay in the gym and not get sidelined by injury so I’m working on staying fit and not looking for any 1RPM (one rep max) neither any new lifts nor any type of challenge. Yes, I’m preaching to the choir. I’m also aware I’ll have to remind myself of this each day for the next six weeks. Dang it, I can do this!

See guys, I’m really thankful that I have options. Some people, who are stubborn like me, have not been so blessed and don’t get to work out with an injury. I want to remain mindful of that and be a good steward and I believe this mindset will keep it all in perspective. I didn’t have to be able to move around and be free to exercise but I am. I am grateful. Next post I’ll dwelve a little into the common areas of injury prone to runners and how we can guard against them. Till then, stay thankful. Perspective is everything!

Winter. Running. Bananas (not the fruit).

@ prospect park

Can I just say that February is the biggest surprise so far this year! Like I don’t mean to sound complaining cause I’m not, but wherever is the snow? Maybe there’s still time and I’m much ado about nothing but I don’t know, the forcast looks pretty bleak for snow and wet at times with unseasonably high temps (still cold though) early on this week. I should chill, there’s still two more weeks left in the month. And what is this obsession with snow anyway? Is it possible I might be missing running in it? Maybe I have winter fever/ blues / whatever and it’s affecting my head. Ha. Whatever it may be, snow or no snow, I’ve been making up a mean mind to get out there early in the a.m and so far so good, mostly anyway, with 4 mornings under my belt last week and my evenings dedicated to core work. I might be switching things up soon though, more on that to come.

My morning runs fluctuate in terms of milage because I’m usually dragging myself off the damn bed around sunrise while anticipating the coldness. However, by the time I’m out and a few blocks away it’s never as bad as I had imagined. Thank goodness too cause it’s usually a quick run, around 4 or 5 miles, before having to dash off to work. The exception is on the weekends when I’ll sleep in some and still wake up to it being cold – no loss there just a gain on the mileage side.

Imagine my surprise this past Saturday when I got up to sunshine streaming through my bedroom curtains and actual warmth outside. Crazily enough, it was around 60°F and everyone was out and about, some in shorts and tanks too. In February! People are only too ready to throw off all restrictions, Covid and clothes included, and get about their business. And who can blame them? It’s been that kind of a 2-year period. But we’re still here, praise God, and so we were out there taking full advantage of an unusual day that was a true gift.

I ended up running eleven miles. From the apartment to Prospect park and two laps of the park and back to the apartment. The park was overrun with runners, joggers, walkers, dogs, strollers, and kids in the fields playing football, baseball etc. Usually I’m not one for crowds while running as I enjoy the solitude of getting lost in my surroundings, but on rare occasions like these I actually enjoy seeing people living out loud and enjoying the beautiful weather. So I didn’t mind doing a few dodges and looking out for my fellowmen. I kept a medium to quick pace at times except on the hills. Prospect Park is very similar to Central Park in that the terrain rolls and it’s quite scenic and pretty at the height of every season. Lucky me! I truly didn’t plan this when I was moving. In fact, I was looking for something much closer to the city. That didn’t quite work out but it looks like that’s working out for my good anyhow. God is good. The weather is insane. And I’m not complaining.

The day turned out pretty good post running and grabbing a couple pics on my way back home. I was able to finally get myself a full-body massage and, get this, embrace chillier temps that turned into snowflakes overnight that lasted almost the entire day on Sunday. Hahaha crazy right! From sunshine to snowflakes in a matter of hours. And then freezing temps for the entire night and today. What can I say, it wasn’t heavy snow! But wait, it’s gonna be 60° on Thursday with rain and gusty winds. My mind is spinning. That’s it I quit the weather, it’s harder than I thought. I’ll just stick to running in whatever.🤷🏽‍♀️

Happy January 2022! Yes, we’re running.

New Year wishes and prayers and hopes and dreams my friends! We made it! 2021 was another year for the books and I prefer not to rehash too much but to thank God for the positives and move on. On to my one official running intention this year, which is the Chicago marathon. In 2020 we saw that plan go belly up as with everything else back then. Thank God for another year and another running chance.

After taking December off, I entered the new year in a full on sprint only to taper off to a jog as the days, already short, seem only to be getting shorter and my plate heavier.  Wisdom speaks and I had better listen, so from next month I’ve decided on officially scaling back my posts to bi- weekly to better manage my time. The latter part of last year saw me so pressed for time that I was in danger of running off the rails for a while there. But God. Therefore I needed to establish some parameters for this year to ensure that I finish the year in good stead..not burnt out and having accomplished little. That said, it’s been a pretty decent January in these parts. New York has not seen any snow to speak of – not like what we’re accustomed to. But this last weekend of January, a nor’easter of sorts passed by and dumped a few inches to remind us it’s winter – as if we needed reminding. It’s been cold! No complaints though because we’re about to run into February and, well, everything happens in February.

I now live within running distance to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, another one of the more popular parks in the city next to Central Park, though not as famous of course. I expect to be spending equal time in both later on in the year as it warms up. These days, I try to steal away for early morning and weekend runs as much as I can but this January will probably record the least milage I’ve ever run. I guess I have to be ok with that. I’m content to uncover new running routes in these parts as the weather improves. Staying real local, last weekend I went out on a 10 mile run to downtown Brooklyn in which my hands were the only casualties. I had to seek refuge a couple of times to thaw them out; crazily they’re the only part of me that is always cold in the winter even when I’m wearing gloves. The run turned out to be a decent and interesting diversion from any winter blues that day and was marred only by the cold temperature as I wasn’t able to enjoy the sights and sounds that was Brooklyn. When I wasn’t thawing out, I kept a decent pace and felt pretty strong sans pain. I hope this bodes well for successive runs. I don’t treat with pain very well and tend to ignore it as much as possible so I run the risk of literally running into an injury. Hopefully this streak keeps up as I’m hoping for a good year of running and getting back to the gym and some lifting. God be in the details.

Everyone knows that moving is crazy work, I hadn’t anticipated its effects stretching out this much. Now I know! I moved across the city, from one borough to the next on Jan 1. It was a whirlwind operation and life’s been pretty constant in its whirlwind state since. Aside from fighting with boxes, I’ve been fighting to get some running in, and fighting to stay on top of my PT exercises for lower back pain/sciatica which I’ve been experiencing for the past few months. The struggle is real. What is really exciting, but not that enjoyable yet, is that I have some new backyard digs to run/discover. While not much has happened yet, I have hopes for post February and the advent of Spring and possibly a new run club. I’m looking into it as my former run group is not yet back officially and well, a girl’s gotta train! For now, my runs may remain somewhat sporadic but with intent. Lol.

Since I only have one major run planned this year and it’s all the way in October, I’m open to running a 2023 Boston qualifier if possible when the weather improves. There are a lot of shifting pieces right now, in the world as well as in my life and likely yours. This requires flexibility, adaptation and grace – grace for others and for ourselves. We can only control what we can, the rest is in God’s hands. Ironically, it’s all in His hands ultimately. And it would behoove us to get comfortable with them there. A happy and blessed New Year friends. 🎊

October Ran Away🍂🍃🍁

Whoosh and just like that it’s gone. Blame it on the wedding, which by the way was a blast, I hardly got time to say hi before the month became a not-too-distant memory. And that’s only because I won’t let it. It’s not everyday a first time planner of sorts throws a bit of a destination beach wedding and everything goes off without a hitch! I mean come on, that’s a month for the history books. Excuse the back patting, I’ve already given God all the credit so I figure it’s ok to tap myself some. Hahaha.

Really though, wow November! You’re upon us. But whatever does that mean for running? Well, not forgetting that we had big races in October with the boston and chicago marathons and london a little before that. Seems we’re off to a running start with everyone’s favorite marathon (I’m taking some liberty here) happening the first weekend of the month. Yeah baby, that’s right, the Big Apple will be doing their share of running with the nyc marathon, celebrating 50 years, on November 7. Whoo hoo! Happy anniversary nyc marathon! And, come rain or shine yours truly will be at the finish line welcoming runners with their “aw shucks..look what I did” cheeky grins.   As it pertains to race-day weather Sunday looks pretty good with a cool 55°. We should be so blessed with minimal to no winds for an awesome spectator turnout and many PRs.

I imagine after a year and a half of no races how anxious running folks must feel for various reasons. A group from my run club as well as a few other friends are running so I’m hyped about that and the opportunity to cheer them on and shout them down. Also, I’m volunteering at the finish..hoping I get to hand out medals but really I’m up for wherever help is needed. I’m just so chuffed – as the English say – to be part of this awesome experience and celebration. To see our city streets flooded once more with runners of every description promises to be a treat like few others. It’s also an opportunity to meet new people, have fun, and just get out and about and back to making our city a safe running haven again. I’m here for it friends!

With a smaller field size this year, and the smallest in years, of 30,000 runners, chances are it will be a smoother, more enjoyable experience as it’ll be less crowded on the streets. We do expect and hope that New Yorkers and visiting folks will turn out the spectator crowd especially in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan. In recent years there has been nothing quite like the spectacular crowd support in those areas. The marathon starts in Staten Island and meanders over the Verazzano bridge into Brooklyn, then over the  bridge into Queens, onto the Queensboro bridge into Manhattan. Then it’s over the Willis Ave bridge into the Bronx, then into Harlem and back to Manhattan to end in Central Park. It’s quite the 5-borough tour of New York City and a real rolling treat to newbies and veteran runners alike. At the very least, it’s a do-it-at-least-once type of run and then as many times as you can get away with! LoL. A bucket list item if you will, if bucket lists are still a thing. I don’t know anymore, I feel like we’re living in a new reality with new expectations and new boundaries and what once was is no longer a sure thing, only it’s getting kinda old. Anyways, no morbid thoughts allowed especially on the eve of this momentous racing comeback for our city and indeed the world this year. Great expectations is more than a book around here; we’re believing for awesome weather and amazing running. Good running to all runners! See you at the finish line. Be there or be missed! 😉

Summer Break not running break

New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile

A last month decision really; I decided to run the Fifth Avenue Mile race. In NYC this is an annual, big, road race where all the famous elite runners (Olympians included) and us regular folks – even the kids are given their moment to shine – get a chance to run twenty blocks of Fifth Ave. It’s closed off from traffic and all local runners, fans, and tourists alike line up to watch a pretty fast show as runners zoom by in their respective heats. It’s one mile so the pros and wannabes, like me, pretty much go full throttle the entire way. Some do it for the comradery and others to feel accomplished. I’ve run this event two times in the past, the last time possibly 2014. This year was extra special though with it being cancelled the year prior like everything else. As a result, the comeback was a treat and my first race since the end of 2020. All during that time I’ve been running much of the time solo, and racing against myself, but I’ve also been fortunate to have the opportunity a few times to run with other runners. So how good it felt to stand about in the start area and commiserate with like-minded folks and celebrate being together and racing again. I have no words only thankfulness.

Fifth Avenue, NYC – it’s on!

So full disclosure, I did not train for this race. Even though I wanted to try for a fast time – even as fast as the last time – I have been pretty deep in wedding plans and traveling back and forth and running pretty arbitrarily. I guess I fell into the old mold of thinking ” well it’s only one mile” and thank God it was only one. The race was on Sunday 12th, two weekends ago, and I literally came back into town the day before. I was exhausted but set to run and at that point was good with just turning up and being a part of something beautiful in our city. My PR on this course is 6:15:00 in 2014 (I think) so I was hoping the stars would align and I would end up being just as fast, like, please God. I can safely say it’s to a runner’s advantage to know the course. Because I had run this course before, the old adage about riding a bike is true, I knew the terrain pretty well. I knew that starting out in a full sprint would not be a good strategy for me – I wasn’t in top form to start with – I needed to go out with just enough leverage on the decline because it subtly morphed into an incline that if taken too fast would leave one floored on the crest with nothing left to give in the final flat finish. So knowledge is power right? Right.

Not a PR but I’ll take it

When my heat was called, pretty early at 7:45 a.m I had been up for hours already with the pre race jitters. I didn’t get a bad case or anything, just more of an anxiousness about the logistics of getting there on time, using the bathroom, etc. I was ready to run and pretty much kept to my strategy. It was a beautiful day with perfect temps and everyone was so pumped and happy to be out. Got to see my friend cheering and photoshooting. Note that I was a fully able to take it all in as I was so not “in the zone” and therefore could have run so much harder and faster had u fully trained for this. Out there though, knowing my limits was important. I had every intention of finishing as close to my pr as possible and not getting injured in the process, sciatic nerve pain notwithstanding. I finished with an official time of 6:20:00; strava was off by a few. However, I was ok with that. I didn’t do more so I didn’t get more but I was super thrilled to see I wasn’t that far off the mark from some seven years ago! Though I know and appreciate from watching the pros that a race is won and lost in fractions of a second, five seconds for this regular runner sounds like an achievable goal to beat next time around. Only next time I promise to train for it.

Here comes the superhero runners

Some of my favorite moments and takeaways from this comeback race was the singing of the national anthem at the start of the event, the comradery in the start area, my trek down fifth ave, the finish line, seeing the children races, and the pros wrapping up the event. It was a fabulous day in our favorite city with our favorite people doing our favorite thing – running!

We did it NY!

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.

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.

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