No no, this isn’t a post about drinking. Well, unless you count drinking Gatorade by the gallon…yea…I figured that didn’t count. Anywho, as you probably saw over at beautiful Melissa’s blog, this past weekend was host to the first of three 20+ mile training runs. If you’ve been following my training schedule at all (if you have, you’re better than I!), you’ll notice I was slated for 20 miles last Saturday. Sadly, Mother Nature hadn’t checked my calendar. After considering a rainy run for a minute, Melissa and I opted to postpone the big 2-0 until Sunday.
Sunday dawned bright and cool. I can confirm this because I actually saw the dawn. Yea, I’m that hard core. Up out of bed at 6am, I toasted up a piece of PF Ancient Grains bread and slathered on a healthy serving of Barney Butter. I also downed a big glass of water while filling up my fuel belt. With my pockets full of sports beans and my belt slung over my shoulder, I jogged over to the train to meet Melissa at Grand Central. Funny enough, we’d both been worried about connecting with each other, but I saw a fair maiden on the escalator wearing a similarly fashionable fuel belt and I admitted, much to my disappointment, that we were probably the only two people within a 10 block radius both rocking super cool belts at that hour. Honestly, I don’t know why Gucci hasn’t jumped on the fuel belt wagon. It already makes a fanny pack!
Since we’d timed our arrival at Grand Central so perfectly, we headed right out to start our journey. Out to the eastern edge of the island we jogged, shaking the rust off, adjusting our belts, setting watches and, most importantly, catching up a bit. Once we got to the East Side, we ventured north along the East River Promenade, which has been the site of many a weeknight run for me. As we neared my ‘hood, I not so subtly suggested we stop at my apartment for a quick pit stop and to grab my iPod. Melissa obliged and, after a quick head pat for Bodhi and a bathroom break, we were off again. As we jogged, the blocks ticked away: 70s, 80s, 90s (and today!…sorry, couldn’t help myself), and up into the 100s.
I will say, I know NYC has gotten much safer in recent years, but I was glad we were running together once we got to the northern most portion of our run. Across the city we ran, waving at the “monster hill” at the top of Central Park (and the poor suckers running it) and enjoying the chance to see the area from the other side of the street. Funny how sometimes such a small change can be so significant!
Once we got to the West Side, we switched things up a bit and started my 7:1 routine from my last few runs and ventured through Riverside Park, luxuriating in the shady tree cover. Our legs were loose, we’d each had a snack and things were looking good. We burst out into the sunshine as we started our run down the West Side Highway and took a brief break from conversation to listen to some motivating music. I think I scared Melissa a bit when I said something along the lines of “Let’s rock this! I’ve got Whitney Houston to keep me going!” Yea…
As we passed through Battery Park, I turned my music off so I could concentrate on the traffic (human and auto) and we stopped at a McDonald’s to replenish our water supply. At this point, we were both starting to fade a bit. The 7 minute segments of the 7:1 routine seemed to get longer and longer and somehow the minute walk breaks were providing less relief. Undaunted, we soldiered on, past the South Street Seaport and some adorable street fairs. One was under the FDR Drive and had loads of local wines! Oh to have stopped for a sip of cool, crisp chardonnay. Like the good little runners we are, we ran right by the wine (though I may have shed a tear or two), and continued up the East Side until…
THE ROAD STOPPED
I knew this was going to happen somewhere in the 30s. Megan had written a fantastic post about NYC running just a few days earlier. And yet, in the midst of our 19th mile, we were still surprised by the abrupt end to our route. Rather than stopping and stomping my feet, which I’d really wanted to do, we circled back and ran a small loop to finish out the last few minutes. As Melissa’s watch beeped, signaling the completion of our journey, we slowed to a walk for one last time and took stock of what we’d just accomplished. Twenty miles. Yes, it deserves to be written out. Twenty freaking miles. We were actually several blocks into our walk back to the train before it really sank in for me and I held out my hand for a high five. TWENTY MILES!
I know, for some, that twenty miles might not be a huge accomplishment and those people should seek mental help. I’ve only run 20+ miles twice before in my life. #1 was my longest training run for Nike in 2007 and #2 was the marathon itself. And yet, somehow I’m going to do it all over again this Saturday. Alone. And as much as I’ve begged and pleaded, I will have no running buddy this Saturday as I venture out to repeat the nearly impossible (for me). I can only hope to have the energy I did this first time around.
I guess we’ll see….