Finally, a great run

I went for my long run yesterday morning. 16-miles strategically mapped out to stay in shaded areas as much as possible.

I woke up at 6:45 am--so painful on a Saturday morning. By 8:30ish I was at Central Park, stretching at my usual starting point. The day was beautiful: it was in mid-60's, there was a steady breeze, and there was a brilliant sunshine that looked magical peeking through trees and around buildings. While not absolutely ideal conditions, it's the best you can get this time of year.

So I start my run. There was a 5-mile race going on in the park...and this time of year, I have learned, there is always some race going on in the park. But it's the tail end of the race, these are all the slower runners--so I get a great ego boost picking them off. The trade off is that I probably did the first two miles a lot faster than I normally would have--which worried me.

Per usual, I took a bathroom break at the one-mile mark. I always do a potty break at the end of the first mile of a long run, otherwise I would have to hold it in or hang around my apartment another 30-minutes just waiting for it to come out (and in the summer, that would mean more time in the heat). Also, this potty break tends to prevent any other biological movement later on in the run, but I'll get to that later. Onward with the run.

I run with the racers until their finish line--which is my 2.5-mile mark--and continue my loop around the park. When I start coming down the west side of the park, the women's race begins. As I approach, I see the cops clearing the way and the elite runners blasting off, faster than I could ever run. So I figured I will use this to my advantage: one of the coolest things about racing is how you feed off the speed of the people around you. You end up matching their pace and can end up moving faster without even feeling it. So I got close to the lane that the racers were using and just kept running alongside. I could feel myself going faster than I normally would have, but I figured it was better than thinking about how much longer I would have to go (another 12-miles).

For the first 2-miles the runners kept zooming past me, but it did help me keep going strong. I decided to turn off my iPod and just listen to the feet and the cheers of "great job ladies," which were awkwardly supportive to me. By the time we got to the southern bend of the park, I had fallen next to a group of ladies in my pace. I wouldn't know the benefits of this until much later.

I took a break from the asphalt by doing a loop around the reservoir. I broke out a pack of GU during this loop and stopped to refill my water bottle. When I came back to the road, most of the racers had already past. I did catch this one girl with a Team in Training shirt on, and, for the first time ever, I managed to talk to a stranger while running in New York:

Me: TNT?
Her: Yup
Me: What are you training for?
Her: Actually, I just finished my race, I did San Francisco three weeks ago.
Me: San Francisco? That's my goal for next year!
Her: It's a great race.
Me: It looks like a great race, but I'm just worried about all the hills.
Her: Yeah, it does have a lot of hills, it's a tough one.
Me: (grimacing) Oh well. Good luck with your run.
Her: Good luck to you too!

That was nice...let's see how long it takes until I break another stoic New York runner.

So I continued past the race's finish line...again...and then got to enjoy the .5-mile decline that came immediately after. I got out of Central Park and moved over to Morningside Park...which I think is one of the most beautiful parks in the city. And once I hit the perimeter of the park I got a fantastic feeling that nothing can stop me from running--which is a great feeling to have 3/4 of the way into this run.

And then I hit the climbing portion of the run. Not that Central Park isn't loading with hills, but those do not compare with the mountains of upper Manhattan. But since I'm in a such a good mood, these mountains don't really effect me. The only thing that's bothering me is that my iPod freaked out and stopped playing, so I had to reset it and start my playlist over.

On the other side of the mountains is Riverside Drive and the last three-miles of my run. As I was thinking "this run is going faster than I thought, did I miss a turn?" my stomach starts to bubble. Yes, bubble, like a friggin stew. It's been playing nice for the past hour and 45-minutes, and it wants attention--right now. Of course, this is the section of the run where I don't know where the bathrooms are. So I concentrate on breathing hard in and out, which helps calm down my stomach and buy some time...but I know I need a bathroom. I really hate my stomach/intestines/entire digestive track right now.

In my desperation to find a bathroom, I make a wrong turn at 98th street, thinking it's 95th street. About 200 feet into it I realize the mistake and just stop in my tracks--I need a bathroom now...and it turns out there's one right behind me. The wrong turn had taken me to a playground that happened to have surprisingly clean bathrooms. So I had my bathroom break...thank Jesus.

After that I hit the road again, knowing that I only had about two miles to go and I pretty much coasted through them, stopping once again for a quick water bottle refill. The most difficult part was the last few blocks because I was in the sun with no coverage whatsoever. But I hit my finishing line and stopped my watch. Two hours and 15-minutes.

Funny, that seems...um...fast, really fast. So I get home, I log my run at Map My Run and find out that my pace was 7.1 mph and 8.4 min/mile. This is VERY suspicious. I mean, its not that I haven't done this speed before, it's just seems a little unrealistic that I sustained it for 16 miles. So I double check my route. Yup, that all checks out, I didn't make any major deviations and I don't think I made any mistakes timing the run.

Right now, I'm having a hard time believing this, but it seems I have no reason to not believe it. Maybe it was the shady route and good weather. Maybe it was the racers in Central Park helping boost my speed. Maybe it was the downhill/flat miles I saved for the end. But I am quite certain I just ran a fantastic 16-mile run, a run that was at a better pace then my Half-Marathon PR. If I have this pace on race day I'll finish the race in about 3:41. Whoa.



I'll take this as a best case scenario. And what a best case it would be for MY FIRST MARATHON EVER!


Tom said...

So glad to see you had such a good run. After the lousy ones, the good ones mean more to us.

Keep up the great work!

Amy said...

Is this the same guy who posted about DNF a few days ago....yeah, you knew you had it in ya.

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Wow. I'm jealous. I'm glad someone was having a fantastic run :)