A 20 Mile Kickoff to Autumn

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, Central Park

On Saturday, I took to Central Park with good intentions of enjoying a glorious Fall day while grinding out my long training run – the longest of the season so far. Ah… if only things would have worked out the way I had planned. As it turned out, I ran smack into the middle of a circus, or rather, the global citizen concert that was on that day, which I would have known about if I had bothered to pay attention the whole of last week. Oh well, I consoled myself, a runner’s gotta do what a runner’s gotta do. Right?

To each his own, but I’m akin to a dog with a bone when I’m on a mission, and there was no way I was leaving the park without accomplishing what I set out to do – all 20 miles of it. I soon figured that with the crowds, the police, and the barricades, I would be better off sticking to the bridal path which was the only place left to run that wasn’t teeming with people, for the most part anyway. Turned out nowhere was sacred and it was being used as a parking lot, which provided me and – surprise – other runners with minimal running space. Seemed I wasn’t the only one clueless or maybe the others just didn’t care, their pace certainly not indicating any kind of urgency or purpose really. In any event, what saved the day and ensured some pluses for me was the fact that though I had gotten a late start – at the height of noonday, which is only possible during Fall, though I was still testing it as we were only into the second day of it – there was a slight coolness and breeze that ensured it wasn’t a humid eighty degrees. So while it was still hot and I perspired profusely, I was running on the inside trail and not the roadway and was therefore able to benefit from the shade from overhead trees and less impact to my knees. At certain points it was even possible to tune out the people factor and enjoy the music, which was certainly loud enough. Another plus was that the water fountains were still on to which I religiously succumbed, albeit unwisely.

If you’ve ever run in Central Park on a Saturday then you know it’s better suited to early am short runs. In spite of this, I was able to tolerate the tourists with their bikes and entourages – most New Yorker’s have little patience with their slow and wandering gait – and take in the beautiful spectacle that is Fall with its colorful trees and dropping leaves. In the strangest way that Autumn is wont to do, it was able to calm me, give me focus, inspire my thanks and appreciation and encourage my finish.

While I’ve been running for many years, I’m still learning or being reminded of things I learnt a while aback, some of which were (1) Avoid running at midday unless it’s in the dead of Winter. (2) Laps are never a good idea for 20 miles. (3) One or two sips of water is always better p/mile than gulps. (4) It’s always better to stick with a tried and true method; such as, if gels work for you then leave the bars alone, and (5) Never go for long runs in the park on a weekend if you can help it.

I finished, rather wearied and drained and called it a day about 2 hours and 45 minutes later. In all honesty it felt like the longest 2:45 ever and I was happy to get home and get horizontal; there I remained until the next morning hoping never for a repeat performance.

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Marathon Weekend: A Celebration of Running

Runners cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at the start of the New York City Marathon, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Runners cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at the start of the New York City Marathon, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

You know you’re a goner/runner when there’s a super-huge racing event coming up and though you had made the decision the year earlier not to run, you’re here mad wishing that you could be running – my current predicament as it relates to the TCS New York City (NYC) Marathon this Sunday. Of course it doesn’t help that the city is abuzz with Marathon fever and I’m smack in the center of it. I’m running past the finish line and on part of the course during my weekly runs for crying out loud. Is it any wonder then? Add to that the number of runners who are so happy to share their epic moment and I’m just about ready to forget all about the challenges and pain of last year and take up anyone’s offer to run in their place – just to be a part of the drama. Then I’m reminded that I do have a part to play, albeit a less challenging one, but surely no less important. I’m happily volunteering at the start!

Post my first time running NYC Marathon, I decided there and then, that I would endeavor to run every other year, partly due to its challenging course and in large part because of the entry criteria. I felt this would leave me with more opportunity to travel and explore other courses. And it has to a large extent so I’m happy with my decision. Around this time though, it’s easy to get caught up in the madness of it all and if you’re me..well, there’s that competitive thing happening..it can’t be helped. As it is, thankfully I know my place and it’ll be out there on the course cheering on those running folks, pouring all the enthusiasm and encouragement that have inspired my running so many times back into hearts and minds of my fellow soul runners. It’s exciting, it’s different, it’s all about running and in it I’ve found my happy place so it’s all good really.

As a brief aside, we’ve stolen into November without much fanfare and with some pretty cool temps. My inner summer is jumping up and down with glee and I’m busy running making the most of the miracle of a Fall that is a bundle of gorgeousness, from the cool weather to the mirage of colors as far as the eye can see. I love it here. It’s the perfect weather for running why wouldn’t I? The predicted weather for Sunday seems pretty cool – high 40s with a bit of a headwind at the start and heading into Brooklyn, then warming up to a high of 58 with partly sunny skies. A marathoner can do wonders with this I think. These conditions are much preferred over last year, which was much warmer; for that we are thankful.

Meanwhile, we begin Marathon weekend with lots of running-related events: Ascis Extra Mile Challenge, the Marathon Opening Ceremony, The Marathon Expo, The Night of Champions dinner tonight, then the Abbott Dash to the Finish race tomorrow leading up to the Marathon on Sunday, which will kick off with the NYRR (New York Road Runners) Youth Invitational and the kids leading the way of the few final miles of the race. All in all, it’ll be a good weekend for running. Of course I’m getting my runs in amidst all of this. Juggling it all is half the fun.

centralpark.com

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