As this was a long run, a training run, it made the most sense to try to emulate how I plan to run race day. I left the cell phone behind and instead put some Enduralytes in the sidepouch of my water bottle holder. I took my largest waterbottle filled with HEED. I took my iPod to sort of get in the mood on the way to the park. Completely forgot to take any powersnot with me, or even slug down a shot before I left the house. Realized that while on the subway and figured, hey, I'd have to make do with the yogurt in my tummy and this small cup of javanated coffee I was sipping. If my energy runs out, it won't entirely be from a lack of gel, Ifigured; and if I can't manage a little ol' eight mile run without gel, then I need to seriously reconsider how I eat the night before long runs, right?
Hard for me to believe, but I popped wide awake at 6:30 a.m. this morning - before my alarm went off. I lounged in bed enjoying the sight of the blue sky and the cool breeze coming through the window until my alarm did go off, then I started my regular pre-race routine, which isn't complicated, but I take my time. I thought back to more successful long run days and opted to skip therapy this morning - I'll make it up in the afternoon. Therapy itself, while helpful in the long term, irritates the lining of the lungs and generally causes mild asthma. I learned long ago that I can get a brief boost in easy breathing by skipping a therapy session.
Anyway, I got to Central Park about 8:30 a.m. and already the heat was coming on and the humidity was building. It had become overcast, too, which was a blessing as it kept the sun from beating down too forcefully. Upon entering the park, something great came on my iPod, probably Tubthumping, and I started jogging right away, even though my plan was to walk to 72nd street and do two loops of the 4-mile route. I had another reason to get moving: I had to find some facilities and fast. I headed for the Boathouse - I did not realize how far it is from Columbus Circle to the Boathouse - nearly a mile.
Nice warmup. I did my bidnit and decided to go shirtless today as well as depend on the park's water fountains - there are two on the four-mile loop that I know of. I took advantage of the fact of Bikers' Bench and stashed my stuff there, on the end of one bench right in plain sight. (Bikers' Bench is a row of benches across from the Boathouse, just where Cat Hill starts, that was donated to the park by some bike racers group. A lot of cyclists hang out there
Okay, miles 1-5 felt like hell in my lower leg regions. The shin/lower calf pain was very bad and though I tried not to give in to it, I did walk a bit as I crossed west at the 102nd street traverse. Fortunately, I was able to pick up the pace again and didn't stop until a water break on the west side, which tuns out to be a lot closer to the 72nd street traverse than I remembered. I slapped the light pole on the corner of the traverse and began to retrace my route. In the fifth mile, the pains began to fade, though they were replaced by various odd twinges and aches in my legs for the next mile and a half.
There was a sprinkler setup to water a patch of grass about midway up the west side and it was liberally watering the running path, too. I took advantage of that twice and it was quite exhilirating. Maybe the Dash-n-Splash run is in my future.
Finally, at about 6.5 miles into the run (and I'm including my "warmup") the pains all went away and my pace got very stready and reasonably strong, right on a 10K pace. I was getting tired, but I hadn't run this long since the Nashville half-Marathon, so i was content to push through the fatigue, knowing that THIS is where the training starts! I was thankful that most of the rest of the run was flats and downhills, except for a moderate uphill after picking up my stuff and returning to the lamppost across the park on the 72nd street traverse. In fact, the last part of the run just felt great!
It was nice running shirtless, too. The warmup had me sweating like a whore in church, even in moderate morning temps, and taking off the shirt felt great, even if I felt a little naked (and fish white and awkward-looking with my barrel chest and stick arms). I needn't have worried. I saw several other people going shirtless today, most of them guys who have the physique to pull that off, but sadly, no women. One of the shirtless ones was an annoying speedskater type who was shouting at people ahead of him to clear a path and holding on hand out in front knife-edge, like he was plowing through solid air or something. What a 'tard. Being shirtless was especially good in the last couple of miles, when the temperature rose noticeably and things started to get muggy. It never got bad - but by this afternoon it'll be the wrong time to be running.
The park was crowded and this was complicated by the abnormal number of people going in the "wrong" direction and also by a racewalkers' race, but I had no frustration with this as I have on other days. Somehow, everybody just flowed in and around each other without tempers rising. It was too nice a morning to ruin it with bad vibes, I guess, and it was kind of neat to hurdle the low string of flags placed to mark the racewalkers' two turnaround points. But I am no Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Though I didn't bring the Enduralytes with me, I did take one before I left the house, one right at the start of the run (knowing I'd be depending on water for the next seven miles), and then a couple right after the run, spaced apart by 15 minutes. It might be unrelated, but I experience no tightening of my muscles post-run, nor fatigue. I felt better than I have in weeks.
So this was a good run I guess. 8.5 miles. It started in the Wading Pool of Suck but ended in the shallow end of Great. It all evens out. I just hope I can keep up the good weekend work and improve somewhat on my weekday work. Beast has suggested I follow NYRR's online training program this time - and as I have yet to sit down and create a training plan myself, I'm inclined to check into it and see if I like the schedule.