Earlier today I completed the longest run of the training program so far, and the longest I have every undertaken. The ten mile route was made up one full lap of Central Park, and a second, shortened lap between the 102nd St transverse and terrace drive. I wasn’t too worried about this run given that I had completed a 9 mile route the previous week and the course avoided the Harlem Hill. The additional mile on top of last week’s effort did not significantly alter the workload.
The run itself was uneventful. I felt fine through the first lap, but the second time around felt some discomfort as I started the triple threat down the West side. I stopped to walk for a minute at the crest of the first hill, and started up running again after the feeling subsided. For the rest of the route everything felt good and as I eased up around the Guggenheim I actually felt like I could go another mile or two.
Thankfully I didn’t. Shortly after completing the run my quads started to feel like they were on fire. Hours later and I’m still feeling pain in both legs. I can’t figure out why all of a sudden I am feeling like this. I stuck to my training plan all week, and did nothing strange this morning prior to the run. I also hydrated as much as previous runs. I’m kind of lost, but I’ll keep an eye on things over the coming days and see how my recovery goes. I also think getting a good race-day routine down will help me avoid problems in the future.
This weekend promised to be a tough challenge, featuring a 9 mile run – the farthest distance I have ever undertaken and something I would never have believed possible a few months ago. Thankfully, the weather cooperated to a certain extent and by the time I set off from my building at 7:45 this morning there was no snow on the ground and just a light fall from the sky.
Wrapped up in my tights, long sleeve undershirt, wooly hat, and windcheater, I made my way to the West side of the park and the starting point for my 9 mile run. The plan was to complete a full circuit, returning to the start point on the West side. From there, my path would take me down the West side for a second time but differing slightly in that it cut across Terrace Drive and returned up the East side to finish by the Guggenheim. The course was extremely undulating, with at least a half dozen long uphill drags to test out my stamina and strength throughout the run.
The first few miles went by quickly and easily, and I was in line with my typical run pace by the time I hit three miles. Taking advantage of the relatively easy East side from 86 St., I upped my speed and made back some time that would help me on the tougher Harlem Hills section to come. By the time I completed the full loop, I was well on pace for my target time and still felt as though I had plenty of gas in the tank. The second trip down the West side was a little tougher because of the two long inclines, but the downhill stretch around the 70’s helped to move my time back within the target range.
As I turned onto Terrace Drive and passed the (mental) 8-mile marker, I knew I had it in me to finish within my target. Despite the tough uphill finish around the boathouse and past the Museum of Modern Art, I still had enough energy to sprint the last stretch and sneak across the line in just under 80 minutes.
On the jog home I couldn’t help but feel extremely proud of what I had accomplished. When I think back to those early days a year ago, just starting out and barely able to complete a full mile without a walking break, today’s achievement felt like something special. To do it inside my 9 minute mile pace just made that bit sweeter.