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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Powering through Pain: my long run debacle

img_20170218_121104_072I recently did a long run that would probably label me insane by a lot of people, maybe you’re already convinced I am, truth be told, we runners are a crazy lot. I know I’m not the average person anyhow. I’m what my daughter terms “extra” and what I know to be type-A in nature, so it’s hardly surprising that I would choose to hop a train out to Long Island for an impromptu long run, at the suggestion of a friend after suffering through a week of a mother of a toothache. Maybe it was the chance to break the cycle of pain, but I over-zealously grabbed on to it with both hands and jumped right in to a hell of my own making.

I got up early Saturday morning, ate, took my pain meds, and took off running to the train station. A few feet into it..my tooth made me aware that maybe, just maybe, this was not such a good idea after all. In all honesty, I thought about abdicating for all of two seconds and decided to hell with that, I’ll wing it. I loaded up on oral gel – it had to work – and we boarded the train and hello Wantah. We made it in under an hour and immediately took to the street, zig-zagging our way through traffic and sidewalks still packed with ice, from the snow storm last weekend, all the way to the Ceder Park.

img1487614898472Mindful of the cold air getting to my gum and the exposed nerve, I was pretty much mummified, which may have helped except that the pounding of my feet sent shards of glass shooting up the right side of my head. Duhh, you may say. Well, a girl could dream; dream of running fast and far enough that the pain would take flight, only it didn’t. I tried tailing my partner in the hopes that my pain wouldn’t jeopardise his run, I tried running alongside him & letting him chat it up to take focus away from the pain, I even tried running ahead, that lasted for all of one mile. In the end it proved rather difficult to pretend it away and I had to live with reducing my pace and keeping my mouth and much of my face covered.

Seven and a half miles in we came upon the beach area and I was able to appreciate something about the whole mess of a run. Turned out it was a view worth running for. The ocean seemed to beckon as its waves rushed forward invitingly, whereupon we succumbed to its temptation and ventured closer to touch its water. No surprise there, it was as cold as it looked, though we didn’t let that stop us from trying to capture the picturesque scene and peace surrounding us. A futile effort really, as the photograph would never quite capture the awesomeness of that moment.

imag1651While it was hell going, the return proved much easier even though my momentum was shot to hell. Thus, I was able to increase my pace somewhat and breathe easier as the air got warmer and I lost some of the covering over my mouth and face area. Physically, there was little I could do once reaching the beach, it was either Uber, swim or run. Since there was no chance of either of the former, it was down to make-up-a-mean-mind and get it done. And done I did..not in the time nor fashion I wanted, but hell, sometimes finishing just has to be enough.

Fourteen miles and some coconut water later, we were back on the train heading home. Did I end up worst off or further incapacitate myself as a result of running with a toothache, somewhat. I’ve been dealing with an ongoing runner’s knee issue and because I had to favor my right side to minimize the tooth pain, I ended up over-compensating, which flared up my knee pain and has me back to working to recover from that. Sometimes, we can be such fools. However, I promise you I spent the rest of the day as horizontal as I could and plan on having an easy week to help heal my mouth and a painful right knee. After all, April’s fast approaching.

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Jones Beach

 

Good Vibes in Marathon City

bhmatson.com

bhmatson.com

I’ve been out of commission for a few days post-Chicago, giving myself time to heal and so ran just two days last week and one this week so far. I confess to have running plans this weekend on a small-scale. The thing is it’s pretty hard to rest in this city at anytime, far less around this time with marathon madness in the air.

Here in New York City, runners take this tapering business pretty seriously and what you will find is not so much less runners out on the streets, just that they’re not running as hard and lengthy; but look around, they’re everywhere. Ideally, this is the best thing for visiting runners and those who find themselves on the fringe of the running community; one can’t help but be caught up in the excitement that is the New York City Marathon.

I had such a great time in Chicago followed by a successful fundraising effort for Team UNICEF U.S.A that I’m in a really good place now in my head and had it not been for this ankle injury, which is still a concern, I would be in seventh heaven. Right now, I have to be ok with just the  first level; it’s still an awesome place to be. It’s not everyday one chooses to run a marathon for an awesome cause like I am, it is my first and I’m awfully proud of me and thankful for all the support that made this possible. My supporters seriously rock! Which leaves me feeling incredibly hopeful, that, and all the good vibes in this super city. As a runner, I know how important it is to prepare oneself for a race both physically and mentally as both are instrumental in getting to the finish line. As it is the work has been done, leaving only my ankle to coöperate.
My ankle-tester of a run yesterday took me through the city streets into and around Central Park’s lower loop a couple times. Often, I like to sightsee while I run and it was such a beautiful fall evening that didn’t dissapoint from the perfect weather and colorful trees and falling leaves and motivation by the handfuls to other runners with possibly hopes like mine or some of their own. Days like that make you thankful to be alive, running in NYC. I was able to mimic the last quarter mile of the marathon and cross the imaginary finish line area, which is being prepared. Now if that didn’t put me in a marathon frame of mind then forget it, but seeing how I was already there, it provided the proverbial icing on the cake. With marathon week coming up, I expect things will only get better and, eternal optimist that I am,  that includes my ankle.

Marathon Training: The Long Run

runner_legs

If you’re running the TCS New York City Marathon in November or have another marathon coming up in October, like me, the experts would suggest that right about now is a good time for your first long training run. Long runs, as part of your overall marathon training, are important for a variety of reasons, but particularly to allow you to ascertain what your body can do to date. This is not your first run, tempo run, sprint or a race; it is the opportunity to engage the distance you’re running with a substitute of similar factors to bring about a simulation of what your marathon day run will be like. It can range from 18 to 22 or even 24 miles, this all depends on what your goal and your training plan is.

Here are some reasons why you need that long run:

1. Training Gauge

It’s an opportunity to test and assimilate how far you’ve come and how far you have to go in your training.

2. Builds a Race Strategy

It provides an opportunity to try out a race strategy you may want to implement on race day. For example; pacing yourself while wisely utilizing energy gels and hydration fuels on course.

3. Nuetralizes the Fear of the Unknown 
Long runs can be a form of initiation for many first-time marathoners; it eliminates the fear of the unknown, and provides a race-day simulation that incorporates distance, companionship, encouragement and motivation to the newbie marathoner when done in an official setting.

4. Prepares You Physically and Emotionally for Race Day
It builds your endurance, stamina and confidence so that you will face marathon day fully prepared and confident in your ability to run 26.2 miles.

5. Cardiovascular Enrichment
As with all forms of exercise, running more strengthens our hearts and its ability to provide oxygen-rich blood to our muscles (CompetitiveRunner.com).

6. Teaches Your Muscles to Store Glycogen                          
Long runs teaches your muscles to store more glycogen, the primary source of fuel during exercise, this is very important to avoid “hitting the wall” on marathon day.

7. Ups Your Performance    
Depending on the regularity and duration of your long run and this would depend on whose training plan you’re using, it could be an instrumental part of your training to assist with speed, endurance and strength training leading up to PR and even a possible coveted placement at the finish.

8. Helps Burns Fat as Fuel  
When your glycogen storage decreases as is the case on a long run, your body fat becomes a secondary source to provide energy for your muscles.

9. Recruits fast-twitch muscle fibers to help out in slow-twitch tasks

10. Increases Mileage and adds to Experience

Practice indeed makes perfect. The more and longer you run perfects your knowledge of your body, its capabilities and of the sport of running.

In essence, the long training run is essential to you not only running but completing your marathon. Additionally, it is good practice for general race training from 5ks to marathons and beyond as it helps to hone pace, endurance and strength skills while also building up the runner psychologically. In my humble opnion, it is the key to running your best marathon.

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