I told myself I would do 10 miles, and off I went to Central Park.
My usual route takes me from my apartment, across the Queensborough Bridge, a little into Manhattan up the tip of the SE corner of Central Park, and back across the bridge to my humble (rented) abode. That's about 6-7ish miles. When I want to run more, I enter Central Park and work my way around.
I don't care how cliched it is to say this, but Central Park is such a gorgeous park to run through. If you decide to do the entire loop, it's about 6 miles. What I had planned on doing today was half of my usual route crossing the bridge, the 6 mile Central Park loop, and across the Queensborough Bridge to go home and take a bus home. This equals to 10 miles.
On top of running in one of the prettiest parks, we are currently in the best running season of the year: fall. I hate running in the heat. I'd rather run in the winter, than run in the summer. Fall is just perfect because of the crispness in the air. This morning was no different. The air was fresh (or as fresh as it can be in NYC) and I was out the door, after loading 2 episodes of "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me" on to the Shuffle.
I still haven't figured out the science in how to get a good start. It's still random to me. There are some mornings when I feel like shit, but the minute I start running, I feel like I'm the lightest being on earth. Then there are mornings like today, where I wake up with no problem, excited about the run, and my legs feel slightly like dead-bolts. I couldn't get a groove. Thankfully, the first part of my route is down hill, so I built some aided momentum, but I was still struggling when I crossed the bridge. It wasn't until around the 6th mile that I actually felt like I had a good pace. The rest of the time, I felt pretty slow. My sister told me during my last marathon that I picked up the pace from the 13th mile and on. I guess it's better to be stronger in the latter half than the first.
The park was breathtaking. The trees were all sorts of yellow, red, and green. I was looking up at the trees throughout my run, which might be why my 6th mile felt great, because it was in the midst of the autumn foliage. I admit to almost crashing into people because I was so distracted. I used to do that while driving, where I would be distracted by the clouds and almost run red lights. This space cadet is much safer for herself and society when not maneuvering a vehicle. Now, it is just other runners, which is less hazardous...?
Central Park is FULL of runners, bikers, walkers, etc. Some people have complained about the crowd, but I honestly don't mind it. I don't feel cramped, and there's enough space for everyone. For the most part, people are courteous, and I feel an unspoken camaraderie. Sure, there may be some snooty elite runners who look down on my running and my iPod (a huge no-no, apparently) but there are so many runners on different levels that I don't feel intimidated to the slightest.
The 6 mile loop ended up being wonderful, despite the steep hill on E. 110th St when crossing over to the west side. I was feeling really good up until Columbus Circle, where I drank my first sip of water, 1hr 15 min into my run. I'm glad I had the water belt. Once I exited Central Park, I only had the bridge left to complete my 10 mile run, which was my plan. I had refueled with one of those Shot Blocks from Clif Bar (which is just like a giant gummy bear) and began crossing the bridge.
Going towards Manhattan on the Queensborough bridge is a long but gradual hill. The other way around is a short but STEEP STEEP hill, and the Shot Block definitely did what it was supposed to, especially because it was the 9th mile. I conquered the hill, and was running across the bridge, and entertained the idea of running the whole way home, instead of taking the bus, which would turn my run from a 10 mile run to 13 mile run. I was feeling good. I thought I could do it. I got off the bridge and started running more, when my legs started protesting. It wasn't in pain, but it wasn't moving much. It was as if my legs had entered into an agreement with my brain that it would do 10 miles today, and they were protesting the breach of contract. I obliged with a compromise, and instead of running it, I walked the way home. It was actually a nice cool down, and hopefully it will make me less sore.
Now I am here, in my room. I ate my favorite breakfast of peanut butter and banana sandwich, and am listening to NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, while punching out this post. My ass is already sore, but I can't ask for a better way to spend a Sunday. Next week will be 11!
Thanks for reading!