Today was a day of firsts for a number of reasons. Up until this morning my training program has enabled me to take all my runs on the treadmill at my gym. I don’t mind running on the treadmill, but had set myself a limit of 6 miles. Anything over that and I figured I would be better off outside – provided conditions cooperated. With a 7 mile run on the cards for this morning, I felt like that was too much treadmill and I would get more out of running in the park. Add in the wintery mix of snow and sub-zero temperatures that descended on the city this weekend, and this was lining up to be a real thrill ride! Luckily, the conditions in the park were not too bad, thanks in part to the previous days New York Road Runner’s Manhattan half-marathon that went ahead, if only as a fun run.
I got up around 7:30 AM and decked myself out in my cold weather gear – long sleeve Under Armor shirt and Snoogi tights, in addition to a knitted hat and gloves. The park itself is just over 6 miles around the full loop, so I backtracked a half mile in a slow jog as a warm up – allowing myself to finish reasonably close to my exit. The route itself was familiar, having recently completed a similar loop during the Joe Kleinerman 10K. The Harlem Hill was a bit of a slog, as was the long drag in the East side. In both cases I managed to keep going, without the aid of pacemakers that a race situation provides – all the while motivating myself with the knowledge that completing the run would be a large step in my training and preparation for the half-marathon.
In the end, I completed the 7 mile run in 61 minutes – a couple of minutes better than my typical pace of 9 minutes per mile. I felt good at the end, the cold conditions definitely made it a little easier than a run in hot or humid weather. My recovery times continue to get better, with my heart rate and breathing having returned to something close to normal by the time I doubled back and exited the park. I even managed to jog back to my building from the park, rather than walk as would normally be the case.
Mentally, I had overcome a big obstacle in managing a long run by myself. With many more to come between now and November, today’s run gave me the confidence to push on to the next level.