Evidently I was not born to travel down a mountain at 60 miles per hour on two fiberglass blades. The weekend itself was a great getaway – lots of relaxation time and a good chance to spend quality time with Jess. We got there late Friday night and settled into our room, with thoughts of the next mornings breakfast.
The following day we rented our gear just down the street from the B&B and took to the slopes. Starting with a relatively easy run, it was immediately clear that I had overestimated my abilities. I spend equal amounts of time on the skis and on my butt, having extreme difficulty in mastering two essential maneuvers; turning and stopping. Jess, on the other hand, had no problems and gracefully made her way down the mountain, stopping occasionally to peer back at me as I came crashing down to the snow and ice yet again. We moved to the beginner slope where the gradient was pretty easy and I managed to stay upright for a few runs. After lunch, we ventured to another easy run only to be ambushed by a blizzard as we were traveling up on the ski lift. At the top the snow and clouds were thick, but I gutted it out and managed to get in a few runs before the old habits returned. At one point the ski patrol had to shoe me like a horse to clear the ice from my boot and the gentleman, although patient, was clearly annoyed that I was on such a large slope with little or no skills. All would be solved a few minutes later, as my increasingly violent falls took their toll and tore the binding from my ski.
Later that evening we enjoyed a very good Italian dinner in town and returned home the next day. Although I took my share of bumps and bruises, the weekend was thoroughly enjoyable and a welcome break from the rigors of my training program.
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.