Prior to marathon training, I was very much of the mindset that long weekends are for catching up on sleep, eating and drinking as much as possible, and potentially squeezing in an errand or two if it didn’t interfere with items one and two on this list. This Labor Day weekend, however, was dedicated to running as much as possible. In a single weekend, I ran 23 miles. If you’re a super serious runner, or an ultra-marathoner like Dean Karnazes, or if you’ve run even a single marathon in your life, chances are this mileage is not too impressive. But since I don’t fall into any of these categories, I will go ahead and continue to be impressed with myself.
I’ve only been running since the summer of 2009, and if I had to guess, I’d say my average mileage over the past two years is somewhere around 15 – 20 miles per week. Less when I’m slacking, and a bit more when I was training for the Jersey City, Huntington Beach, and Long Branch 1/2 marathons, but I’m right around that 15 – 20 mile range during “ordinary running time.” So with that in mind, getting in 23 miles in a single weekend feels like quite a feat. In fairness, some of those miles were catch up from the week (a mid-week tequila bender threw a cramp in my weekday running schedule), and to call it a weekend is a bit of a misnomer given the extra day. That being said, I’ll wear my 23-miles-in-3-days with pride.
Saturday morning I went for a 6-mile run along the East River. While the run itself wasn’t great (I didn’t sleep too well the night before, and had a lot on my mind during the run), that route has become one of my favorites over the past few weeks. Running along the water always clears my head, and it doesn’t hurt that with the exception of the two (very manageable) foot bridges over the FDR, it’s an easy, flat run. Later that day, Cop and I took a leisurely walk to the Jack Rabbit store on Union Square so I could stock up on Cliff Shots for my long runs this month. On Sunday, I had every intention of doing this 12-mile run to Central Park and back. I did everything right on Saturday night: had a delicious and carby homemade dinner, stuck to water when I met up with some friends at a bar who were visiting for the long weekend, and made it to bed before midnight.
Despite my best intentions, though, I managed to hit the snooze button a few times too many. By the time I finally got out the door a little before 10am I wasn’t quite sure I’d squeeze in all 12 miles, get home to shower, then make it out to Brooklyn by 1pm (I’d promised some friends I’d help paint their apartment). I thought if I really pushed it, I could get the whole run in, but I also know these are supposed to be long, slow runs and wasn’t sure racing against the clock was in my best interest. So instead I ran up to Central Park, and did about 2.5 miles on the outer loop, and headed home with 5 miles under my belt. The Brooklyn painting party was a success (Sweatshirt Grey and Paris Romance Pink are some lovely colors if you’re in the market) and I was rewarded for my contributions in the form of pizza and beer, which is quite a wonderful trade in my book. Especially since I actually really love apartment painting.
One bonus of pushing back my long run was that it gave me a reason to have a carby dinner for the second night in a row, so I ordered in some pad thai, re-discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix (don’t judge) and called it an early night. This morning I woke up bright and early and, rather then heading back up to Central Park, decided to pull out a route I mapped a while back but have yet to run. (I have a weird habit of mapping runs I’d like to do, and am especially prone to this habit when I’m calendaring out a new training schedule for a given race. Again, don’t judge.)
This particular course involved a tri-bridge run: over the Williamsburg bridge and back, followed by the Manhattan bridge into Brooklyn, and then finally taking the Brooklyn Bridge back into Manhattan before cruising up the West Side Highway. I regularly run the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges (and love them both for different reasons) but until this morning, I’d only ever walked across the Williamsburg once. There’s something about it that has always seemed so intimidating – it looks like such a looooong bridge when you’re running along the East River, and the one time I crossed it on foot I remember thinking, “This incline must be awful to run.” Also, the foot/bike path has this crazy metal enclosure, so you sort of feel like you’re in a jungle gym. I was a bit unsure of myself as I set out this morning, especially since I’d be running it over and back right away. As I ran down the Bowery, the bridge was looming in my mind, and when I headed east on Delancey, the bridge was looming in the horizon.
And then, as soon as I set foot on the bridge, I felt totally fine. The incline didn’t seem nearly as steep as I remembered. The first peak was clearly visible, so I locked my vision on the apex, straightened up, and just put one foot in front of the other. Before I knew it, the longer of the two climbs was over. I did the exact same thing for the shorter climb. Then I did it twice more on my way back over. Piece of cake. And, actually, running in a jungle gym is kind of fun.
(In good blogging etiquette, I should mention that neither of these bridge pictures are mine. I found them on the interwebs.) Once that bridge was out of the way, I knew the rest of the route like the back of my hand, so it was relatively easy. And by easy, I mean I felt super tired and my legs weighed a thousand pounds for the entire last two miles, but mentally I felt fine.
The rest of my day off was spent catching up with my mom, sending out some fundraising, eating several times throughout the day to make up for running 12 miles, and feeling quite proud of how many miles I ran this weekend (wait, did I already mention that last one?)
And now, this guy and I will call it an early night for the third time in a row before taking a nice, slow, 4-mile recovery run tomorrow morning.