August Long Run Shenanigans; Be encouraged.

Battery Park – along the Hudson River

This month has come and almost gone and it’s been crazy! Crazy weather. Crazy busy. Crazy training runs. It’s crazy that it all happened so fast! Rewind to a few weeks ago when I started marathon training and it was seventeen weeks to race day. Now, we’re down to six. Wait. What? How in the world did it all happen so fast? Meanwhile, I’m here trying to stop time for like one week so I could at least rerun one of my last two long runs. I’ll stop short of saying they were disasters, only they were not at all where I want to be at this point. And I’m sure to be disappointed because apparently time waits on no one. So with September on the horizon here’s a quick sum of August runs.

Summer Streets on Park Ave.

Shout out to my New York City and Summer Streets. Every summer we are treated to 3 consecutive Saturdays of 5 miles of running/exercise bliss aka a shutdown of  Park Avenue in Manhattan from the upper east side all the way down to the Brooklyn bridge. On a typical day iconic Park Avenue is a traffic thoroughfare, so to have it closed to vehicular traffic is a sight for sore eyes. There were strollers, joggers, cyclists, roller blades, skate boards, scooters, anything with momentum, and runners of course. The heat, the people, the activities, the music, and the energy on those streets – it was crazy fun! You might have heard of the term “sweating bullets” yup, that was us out there. I ran with the Nike run club on one of their runs on a summer street Saturday and it was a treat to run alongside other runners, most in training for a fall marathon, with many getting ready for the nyc marathon. It was a large group with many pacers and paces so it was easy to fit in. It was a great 12 miles! The only downside is the late, by which I mean 8:15 a.m start. Summer sun don’t play and neither do I when it comes to getting my long runs done early (by 8:30am) so I don’t have to suffer under its brilliant rays.

End of the Broadwalk @ Coney Island Beach

Another long run I did was out to Coney Island and the beach, which was really an epic fail and my bad. I was exhausted from shenanigans the night before and got up so much later than I had hoped. And so started 15.5 miles of unpreparedness. It sucked but I was determined to run to the beach and back and I did. Just barely. I encountered, what is termed “the wall” in running speak. It’s the feeling you get of not being able to run any further, like a wall is blocking your way forward – hence the term. It happened on the way back, around mile 11, with the sun high in the sky and me without any shade or water. Gosh, I wanted to quit. Call an Uber, I had my phone, no one else would know. But there’s no motivation like self motivation. Somehow, through my inate grit and a merciful God I’m sure, I dug deep and deeper still a few times after stopping for some breaths, and was able to climb over that wall to make it back home just about 2 hours later. You can be sure it was my first and last wall encounter.

Along the Pier on the west side highway
Brooklyn Bridge

The long-run saga continues with a run through a big chunk of The Big Apple. Two weeks before the last run I mentioned above, I did a 2-hour run around the lower perimeter of Manhattan one weekend after a nice 1-hour long active stretch. Crazy me, I decided to go for a sunset run along the East River and the Hudson River starting on the lower east side with some late sunshine and really phenomenal views. I always say NYC has the best skyline in the world. Forgive my bias, as well as my ignorance, I don’t have much basis for comparison. But I imagine it is pretty special as visitors from all over the world come to get in on the action. The downside to that run was the crowds..there were so many people out and about as I ran along the Seaport, Battery Park, and along the piers and the Hudson River on the west side highway. A bit of a zoo. Eeek. But it was also Saturday evening in New York City, go figure. In addition to which, I was also very distracted with the view and felt the urge to take a dozen photos. Just poor planning on my part, or a lack thereof really, and I was left chasing this 2-hour clock all the way up to West 96th Street and back down to midtown to wrap up at Bryant Park sometime after 9pm. Can I just say I hardly noticed that I was running through Times Square at night because it looked like midday – the noise, yes noise, the crowds, and the bright lights everywhere was disconcerting to say the least. I was thorough annoyed with myself to have run into that. Shouldn’t I have known better? Surely never again! Then I had a sense of dejavu. Might I have done that before? Now, that’s just crazy! I don’t dwell on it.

Jersey City skyline from Battery City
Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan’s Financial District

This month, I’ve had early morning runs and evening runs – those are the times that work best with my schecule. I much prefer early mornings even though it takes me a couple of miles before I’m really awake. Once I get going and the sun is a non-issue then it’s going to be a good one. I ran local the last weekend of August and kept within a few miles of home but in a different area from which I’m accustomed. I don’t know how I feel about running around Brooklyn yet. I’ve had some encounters with unmentionable creatures that I’m hoping won’t become a thing so I’ll wait for a bit before that influences my views. LoL. But what I do know is it’s much busier and noisier than where I lived before. I don’t like running around nor into people. I prefer serenity and stupendous views. Sadly, the two don’t come together in this city so one has to be willing to gain some and lose some. I’m ok with that because the upside is that with each run I get stronger mentally, build endurance, discover new depths to myself, and push those limits.

Sunset over the Hudson River

Are you ready to push those limits? This may look different for you. Whether it’s your first 5K, marathon #10, your first ironman or ultra, or you’re thinking grander or smaller – even starting an exercise program, or getting a coach or trainer; you are on to something. Be encouraged and like the good book says, do not despise these small beginnings. One step is always better than none and step two is easier and sets you up to keep stepping and keep moving. Know that every step outside of comfortable and routine is a step forward. September, Fall, Chicago marathon, and new beginnings are all just around the corner and like me, you too can stumble along until you get those feet steady and sure. Running, as is the case with all journeys, is about progression and not perfection.

Nike Group Run

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.🤷🏽‍♀️

February: Superbowl, Valentine’s and Brr Weekend Runs

Stretching time post long run @home

The first week in February flew by in an arctic flash..as fast as it was cold. That Saturday, Superbowl weekend, along with a few runners from my Wednesday run group, I did my first February winter run in 18℉. Running along the water, across two bridges, up and down stairs, and dodging black ice was the order of the run as we ended up in Queens after making our way from Manhattan, though Brooklyn, then to Queens. As it often happens on these Saturday jaunts, aka long runs, only this time it was 12 miles, we ended up in a new dive as excited to eat and drink as we were to run, and were prepared to forget all about the chill with beers, Bloody Marys and surprisingly, sunshine. Too much fun meant we had to rely on Uber on the return, but who’s keeping tabs? Recovery took place on Superbowl Sunday to the tune of four hours of football, including a decent half-time show, amidst lots of food, drinks, and friendly chatter aka noise.

@Battle of the Fittest – Cross Fit Competition

The following weekend, I attended a Cross Fit local competition held at our gym, only not for the purpose of participating. I helped out with organizing and setting up throughout the event, which was a whole-day affair. As such, my Saturday long run was put off for Sunday instead. I opted to stay local and ran solo through my neighborhood; in the parks, and along its trails, which was good until I had to make up some mileage with a few laps around the local park. Suffice to say, doing laps are not a favorite of mine and neither was the weather. Chilled, but thankful for no winds, I wrapped it up at eighteen miles and called it a day.

@the gym for Valentine’s Day Mid-day workout

Last Thursday was Valentine’s Day, much more into Galentine’s this year, I did some speed work with my run group the Wednesday before and a short midday run to my gym workout on Thursday. Saturday, a friend and I, decided on a 20 miler through upper Manhattan. For most of the run we had sunshine, while it was still chilly and windy in some parts, especially by the water, We started off on the upper east side, along the east river, ran up to 119th street, in East Harlem, across the bridge and over and up all the way across to the West Side and up those crazy stairs at Morning Side Park. Exiting there, we ran down and across 116th Street and through Columbia University, then continued through the Morning Side neighborhood veering off to the Hudson River Greenway, where we ran along the water accompanied by sunshine and a strong wind at times. We made it all the way up and under the GW (George Washington) bridge, at 175th Street, and ran on to 185th and up and over a dastardly hill to emerge on Morning Side drive in the Hudson Heights area. From there, we ran across West 183rd street, I think we were in and around the Bronx area at this point, and we ran over to the Washington bridge, across and aound to US Highway 1 and then we were down hill for a bit, dangerously so at some points on an uneven path with loose rocks. We prevailed without injury all way to the Macombs Dam Bridge, in the vicinity of Yankee’s Stadium, ran across and then onto Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd all the way down to West 138th Street. This area in Harlem is reminiscent of the New York City marathon route and indeed at this point we were able to do a reversal of a bit of the official route across West 138th and over the Madsion Ave Bridge to end up back on the east side, still following the marathon route all the way to and over the Willis Avenue Bridge. We finally veered off to cross over at East 116th Street and back unto the East River running path. From there, it was pretty much a straight, and tiring, path to the 59th Street bridge. Once over that mountain, we were on York Ave on the UES (Upper East Side) and had just about three quarters of a mile left as we navigated our way back to the starting point and wrapped up our 20 miles in 2 hours and 43 minutes. Dang it! I was tired, cold, and dying of thirst; but I was sorta tickled that we had pulled it off minus two stops, one, to grab a bottle of water at a deli around mile 16, and before that, for 30 seconds around mile 11 after that dastardly hill, which played havoc with my back that I had forgotten to tape up.

Post run in Queens

All in all, not a bad showing for February so far and the weather has been good for running with no major snow storms – the cold, and areas of black ice, and frost are expected and have served to keep things interesting and to keep us alert and running. Boston is now about seven weeks away and we have one more weekend long run in February. The challenge is to always keep it interesting. Thus far, I am thankful!

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