If you've ever seen the movie Bubbleboy, you know it's one of the stupidest pieces of trash ever to roll out of Hollywood's cutting rooms. This should have been a straight to DVD release; hell, Carnosaur II was better. And funnier. But some days, I FEEL like a bubbleboy, in that I live my life in a fairly insular world, in contact with no-one, yearning to get out - and when I do find some modicum of freedom, I am simply surrounded by a portable envelope of isolation. Living in NY can make a guy a fairly lonely fellow. Now, I'm lucky - I am of a temperament such that I rather like isolation. So living in NY is the next best thing to my dream occupation: hermit. You can hear a much lengthier and more entertaining analysis of runners living in a bubble in Phedippidations 34: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. (A little plug here for Phedippidations; awesome podcast.)
In this recent hot and muggy weather, however, I have lived another kind of bubble lifestyle, hiding away in air-conditioned spaces. Though I ranted against AC at the beginning of summer, I have to admit it does an admirable job of drying out the air indoors and of melting down primary power lines in Queens. (Hah! And you called me a fool for living in Brooklyn!) Yesterday, I dared to slip outside the bubble for a time and went to the commissary at Fort Hamilton. It is a mile from the subway stop to the commissary - and no more miserable two miles have I walked in some time. Despite light clothing, I was puffing away and sweating profusely, which the humid air did nothing to help evaporate. And right back into my bubble I dove once I got home.
Well, the time must come to accept that one either has or does not have the tools with which to cope with summer. I have them, if I'll just stop being a pussy about it. So this morning I rose at 5 a.m. and was out of the house by 6, headed toward Central Park. Without much thought about it, I treated today like a race day run. Everything went very smoothly in prep and I got to the park about 7. I stretched for quite some time and walked to the CRCA benches across from the Boathouse, where I stashed my bottle of Recoverite and my book, both sealed in a ziplock bag as it looked like clouds might roll in and rain on everything.
Turns out I misread the schedule three weeks ago. I have missed two 7-mile long runs on the last two weekends and I figured I had to be very firm and jump in the game this weekend with the scheduled 10-miler. (It was only supposed to be eight, heh.) So out I went, starting very well up Cat Hill.
Yesterday, I'd stopped by the Apple Store and picked up the Nike+iPod sport kit. One is supposed to buy the Nike+ shoes, too, but...meh...I don't really want to spend that kinda money, particularly since I'm getting along so well with my Adrenaline 6's. A little poking around on the web convinced me I could do without, so I wrapped the little pebble thing (accelerometer) in plastic and zip-tied it to my shoe, thusly:
It was quite nice getting a little vocal feedback on the run, with the female voice marking each mile as it passed. I began to get concerned about accuracy about mile 4, really concerned at mile 5, and when the voice announced completion of the sixth mile (or rather "4 miles to go"), knew the thing needs calibration. That's OK; I knew it would, but it is currently off by about 1/6 of a mile. By the time I'd finished exactly 10 miles, according to NYRR's map of Central Park distances, the sport kit was telling me I'd finished 12.1 miles. Uh....riiiiiight. So my next run will be either one loop of Prospect Park or two loops of the reservoir - both known distances - and I'll calibrate the thing. Other than that, it's a good kit for someone who isn't doing heartrate training.
Anyhow: the run: Mile 1 sucked, mile 2 sucked - pain in the right ankle. Mile 3 began to not suck as much, coming down the west side of the park, pain went away. Mile 4 legs started to loosen up and get in the groove. I was breathing through pursed lips by this time, if not earlier, but at least my lungs were mostly cooperating. Miles 4-6 were about what you'd expect from the middle miles of a long run. Good, steady pace, not too difficult, not too easy. Miles 7-10 were done as the middle park loop, meaning I had the pleasure of Cat Hill a second time. 4 miles sure feels short after 6! Wrapped them up tired, though still running strong and made it a point to go far enough up Cat Hill a third time to touch a lightpole I was using as a marker. Turned off the Nike counter and returned to the CRCA bikers' benches to retrieve my stuff.
I'd thought my eyes were deceiving me when I passed the bench at mile 6, but no, my eyes were right: someone had stolen my ziplock bag. I find this amusing. A whole bottle of Recoverite remains untouched. A book (Cuba, by Stephen Coonts), invaluable to bibliophiles, still there. But my plastic bag? Gone! I was puzzled by this until I saw a girl with a pug in another part of the park...pulling an old grocery bag from her pocket.... yeah, you get the picture. Well, at least the rain held off until I was about a quarter mile from Columbus Circle on my walk out of the park.
So, this was a great run. Surprisingly so. And though I had minor pains in both ankles, they left quickly and currently nothing else hurts. My post-run shower felt oh-so-good. And I've spent the last couple of hours taking a nap in my air-conditioned, Queen-sized-matressed bubble.
One last thing: I'm used to a powdery coating of salt on my arms and legs after runs, but today the salt additionally appeared in a different form: table-salt-sized crystals appearing in localized clusters and lines. I've never had such pronounced salting before. But I did take Enduralytes, so I'm not worried about salt loss or anything. And now...I have to go grocery shopping then get off to rehearsal. Enjoy the pic of my salty salty bubbleboy arms (click for full-size).
[Edit: it just hit me that I ran 10 miles! I haven't run that distance since the Nashville half and (Nashville inclusive) have only run that distance three times since ....well, I think since the Staten Island Half... can that be right? Listen, it just didn't feel all that hard. A challenge, yes, but not so difficult I couldn't have rounded out another three miles today, easy. Weird.]