Marathon training officially starts today.  This should be fun…

Marathon training officially starts today.  This should be fun…

#24 - Cheer for the New York City Marathon: A Non-Race Recap

If my Twitter feed were to be believed in the days leading up to Marathon Sunday, I was the only runner in New York not racing this weekend.   And it certainly felt like that during my six-miler yesterday—everyone else along the East River seemed to be doing short, shake-out runs while I eyed them jealously, thinking how nice it would be to be done with training instead of anxiously waiting for it to start.  Still, I was psyched to cheer for the first time ever today.  

After a lazy morning in bed watching the elites (yay Shalane!), I decided to lace up and try to catch some marathon friends as they headed up First Ave.  I normally run south to the Brooklyn Bridge, around Battery Park, and up the West Side, so I was excited to see what the East River is like above 14th Street. 

Well, I haven’t been missing anything.  It’s mostly narrow paths and FDR exhaust.  And at 38th Street, the path just stops.  What?  I stared at the chain link fence in front of me in disbelief before crossing over to run the rest of the way up on the street.  The one redeeming part was running towards the Queensboro Bridge knowing that thousands of runners were crossing it at that very moment. 

Even though it was a little after 1 pm by the time I got to 59th Street, I was able to get a spot in the crowd only two-people deep on the Southwest corner, where the runners turn up First Avenue after coming down off the bridge.  The sheer volume of runners was incredible, and incredibly inspiring.  You expect the elites to make it look easy, but I was blown away at how good everyone looked at mile 16.  A lot of the runners were cheering louder than the crowds, and smiling the way I hope to be in the Spring.  But with so many runners and singlets, I found it hard to pick out the familiar faces.  I was bummed I didn’t see Amani Toomer (who I hope got more than a few “A-mah-ni Too-mah!” chants from Giants fans along the route), but I did catch Jared from Subway and a guy who was juggling while running…because just running a marathon isn’t hard enough?  (Apparently “joggling" is a thing…who knew.)

Running to spectate was a great plan, until my fingers started to feel like they were developing frostbite after 45 minutes of cheering in flimsy layers that were overkill for my run but completely inadequate for standing around in the cold.  I sprinted all the way home, or rather, all the way to Starbucks on 9th Street for a much needed Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Next year I’ll have to have a better game plan for watching.  Or I could, you know, run it?

Congrats to everyone who ran today!  It was a pleasure to watch you run your heart out.  You rock.

Officially Registered For My First Marathon!

After weeks of looking at race calendars, weighing out the pluses and minuses of training during the less-than-pleasant Northeast winter (which would make 20 miles in January and February nothing short of miserable), and factoring in things like the first birthday party for my yet-to-be-born-but-should-be-with-us-in-a-few-days (!) niece or nephew (who will likely turn 1 on the weekend of next year’s Marine Corps Marathon), I have finally registered for my first marathon.  On May 1, I will run 26.2 miles in the New Jersey Marathon/Festival at the Shore.  Woo!  Writing that somehow makes it all really sink in. 

I was particularly excited that I would cross “run a marathon” off my list shortly before my 26th birthday…until I realized I turned 26 last year.  Oops.  I guess finishing a full before I turn 27 works, too!

You would probably think that I celebrated last night with a nice long run.  Or a short, fast run.  Or even a short and slow run.  Instead I went out for three too many glasses of wine with coworkers.  Training doesn’t start until right after Christmas, so I guess I should get it out of my system while I can!  On deck for tomorrow is a fabulous fall run in the Park.

#1 - Central Park Loop: Running Naked

No, not really.  I can’t even wrap my head around the running barefoot trend.

But as I crossed Astor Place en route to the uptown subway yesterday, my right hand flew to my left wrist, where my Nike+ wristband should have been.  Instead, it was sitting on the edge of the diner booth in my apartment.  Crap.

For the past three months, I haven’t run without Nike+ tracking my every move.  I’ve never been a watch person, preferring to tell time with my Blackberry, but I now understand what people mean when they say they feel naked without their watch.

Luckily, I was off to run the loop in Central Park, so I figured it would be easy enough to get in the six miles I was planning without tracking my run.  I fought the urge to turn around, and once I got to 59th Street, I ran without any sense of pace, or duration, or distance. The result?  The park felt a hell of a lot smaller than it ever has.

As embarrassing as this is to admit, after over three years and hundreds of miles in Manhattan, this was my very first run in Central Park.  It took me a few minutes to figure out exactly which path I was supposed to be on, but once I did, I loved it.  Even the hills.  Normally I have to settle for thinking overpasses and ramps along the FDR count as “hills,” so it was a nice change from my beloved but flat flat flat East/Hudson River path. 

All in, I ran about seven miles.  I felt great overall, though for the first time since I’ve started seriously running, I felt my knees.  Not in a painful way, but in a you’ve been logging a lot of miles and have you noticed how very small we actually are? sort of way.  I’m hoping that was just due to the fact that I ran seven miles after two weeks off, and not a new chronic problem.

I didn’t mind the twenty-minute subway there or back, and treated myself to a Pumpkin Spice Latte on the walk home.  (Okay, it probably should have been a Pumpkin Spice Gatorade, but a latte is a much faster route to replacing all the calories I burned.)

I know I have a lot to explore in the park as a runner (Bridle paths! Inner loops! Harlem hills!), so I’ll definitely be back soon.  Hopefully with my Nike+ wristband.

What about you…what do you feel naked running without?

This run was the first in a series of 101 training runs and races on my “to do” list.  For more on my 101 Runs project, click here.

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