Alternate title: The Only Thing in New York Worth Doing
Last week I had the partially fortunate, partially unfortunate opportunity to visit New York City for the first time. I will spare you the full-review of my experience over the 4.5 days, but I would like to share one of the highlights of my trip: running along the Hudson River Greenway.
I had ideas in my head leading up to this trip that I wanted to run each morning before I had to start working (I was working remotely so I could even GO on this trip). Due to the time difference, I had a rough time waking up on Thursday, and so I really got up around 7am EDT, worked for a couple hours, and then headed out for a run around 10. I had three routes I wanted to run: 1 - north on the Hudson River Greenway, 2 - South on the Greenway, 3 - Central Park Loop. Spoiler alert: I only did one.
I strapped on my Garmin, grabbed my phone, and headed from our hotel in Chelsea, two blocks south of Madison Square Garden on 8th Ave., to the High Line. I was really excited to explore the city, and I had read some awesome things about the High Line.
I jogged up the steps and headed south. Awesome it was! But holy-moley the tourists! I mean, I was totally and undeniably a tourist, but at least I was trying to fit in. It was very crowded, which shouldn't have surprised me and in retrospect gave me a nice foreshadowing into the days ahead. I ran in between the masses of people and politely excused myself around them. I stopped to take photos like everyone else. And after about a mile, I descended the stairs and the High Line was behind me.
I headed west on 14th St. and crossed 11th Ave. towards the Hudson River Greenway. A reward for putting my shoes on and battling the crowds of the High Line. The greenway is a wide open pedestrian/bicycle/skateboard/roller-blade/segway (?) path along the Hudson River, running from the south end of Manhattan near Battery Park up to somewhere really far north of that near the George Washington Bridge. The open space is very welcome in such a crowded city (and I didn't even know yet how welcome it would be) and the views along the river are serene and picturesque.
I ran towards the "Freedom Tower" a.k.a. "One World Trade" or I am sure there are other names for it. I didn't realize how tall it was on my cab ride in from Newark, but Google schooled me that it's the fourth tallest building in the world (including the antenna, which kinda seems like cheating, but I'm no engineer). When we visited the building later in the trip, there was no mistaking that it was really freakin' tall.
I honestly didn't realize how close it was until I counted for the title of the post.
I registered for the Griffith Park Half Marathon as the first race in my Thirty in my Thirties goal because I volunteered at the Griffith Park Trail Marathon and saw first hand how fun and supportive the race, race director, and runners were at this event. I have been wanting to race (ok, run at all) all summer and I picked this race to get me back into the swing of things now that I am slowly building up mileage again.
I just realized that last week I actually did week two of my training plan, even though this week starting today was supposed to be week 1. It's pretty embarrassing to admit I can't read a calendar. The training plan wasn't for the half marathon. And while I probably should have used a training plan, it's way too late now. It's trails and there's elevation so I will be hiking the uphills anyway. I am more than confident I can go the distance, and I don't even want to think about speed. It's for the experience first and foremost... and serves as a bit of a warm-up for my Thirty in my Thirties.
I have two goals for this race, though. The first is the stretch goal, and that's to finish in 2.5 hours. The second goal is my safety goal- to run it in a sports bra. Yep, I know I know, WTF kind of goal is that? Well, I have never been confident enough to go run in a sports bra. I did it once actually, on the beach, where like other women are wearing way less. And a guy ran backwards talking to me and my sister for like idk, a quarter of a mile until we finally asked him to get lost. I am just not comfortable with eyes on me (whatever the reason) and I just feel like a girl running around without a shirt on draws attention. But at a race, where that's much less likely to happen I think I would feel comfortable. Now just to work on the confidence, and the abs.
So hopefully it's warm enough to warrant such an outfit choice, otherwise I have a third goal to finish without hurting my foot.
Now to the numbers...
Monday: Rest (check)
Tuesday: Woke up at 6am and did fartleks for a little over 5 miles; I pushed pretty hard and it felt amazing, my overall pace including mile warm up, mile cool down: 9:10
Wednesday: Rested my foot and took a walk
Thursday: 6.5 mile pace run - my current "comfortably-hard pace" is 9:50, this would probably be my current marathon pace
Friday: easy 5 miles
Saturday: 60-minute bike ride (aerobic only)
Sunday: 10 miles easy
Oh, yeah, you read that right. I finally got in my first ten-mile run since February. Pace: 12:07. Don't even care. I wasn't tired, I wasn't sore, and my foot didn't hurt the next day. I am loving taking it slow and getting back into it at a level I can tolerate. It makes it so much more enjoyable.
As you probably are unaware, I recently hit the big 3-0. It was a great celebration complete with donuts, bowling, and a brief mid-life crisis.
Like any motivated individual, I wanted a big goal to start looking forward to the next year - the thirtieth year of my life. My original idea (I'll be the first to say it, there's nothing "original" about this age-number play.) was to run thirty races at age 30. So like, a five-k every weekend I didn't have something else to do. My sister reminded me you have to pay for these things.
Solution #1: thirty races in my thirties. Boring.
Solution #2: thirty marathons in my thirties. Holy asphalt, no.
Solution #3: thirty marathons or ultras in my thirties.
Number 3 was the most viable solution for like two days. And then I realized I would either have to only take one race seriously per year or get seriously re-injured. Actually I think you have to have recovered in order to technically get "re-injured" so just furthering the injury is a more appropriate wording.
You see, math people, thirty of anything in ten years is three of said thing per year, on average. And there is such thing as too much of such a good thing.
So I contemplated my options and made my final decision. Drum roll... thirty half marathons, marathons, and ultras in my thirties, with the added caveat of not repeating a race. <Cymbal crash.>
Thirty UNIQUE races. Ideally, I would finish one race of each distance in each year. However, this may not always be possible so I am not going to get hung up on it. I at least will 1 race marathon distance or further, but injuries can be a bitch and I will listen to my body.
I already have ideas about which races I want to do in the first year. In fact, I have the first one lined up. More to come. I am actually thinking I might hit my three races by May 1 and then have some time off before training for a 2016 fall ultra...
I am very much looking forward to chronicling my training and races along with the motivation peaks and valleys that come with a decade-long goal.
Somehow I have lived in Los Angeles for more than six years and had never done a run at Griffith Park. I can't be entirely sure how that's possible, but it's just what happened.
I had hiked from the Hollywood side (meh) and I had been to the Observatory a handful of times (wonderful). I had been to the Greek Theatre, the Autry Museum, and I had even volunteered a trail marathon at the park.
But over the weekend I did something that was amazing and special to me.
Los Angeles is a difficult city to be a part of. I don't mean live in - it's no harder to live here than anywhere else. I mean, save for living in the wilderness or possibly South Central where survival is not a given. Los Angeles doesn't invite you in. Los Angeles doesn't make you feel at home. Los Angeles doesn't offer you tea. This city is immensely lonely even when you are surrounded by 18.5 million people and are never on the freeway or in the grocery store by yourself.
Since I moved here, I haven't made very many friends and many of the ones I have made have since disappeared through some means or another. This isn't just me, this is just L.A. It has happened to everyone I have spoken to about the subject. It's just too easy to get tied up in yourself. Self-centeredness is just a tool for survival. No one looks out for you. No one but you.
It's a bit rare to get these views. Usually there is an appropriately melancholy (even after 300 days of sunshine) haze over the city at pretty much all times except right after a rain or if it's extremely windy. This time, as I stood in disbelief at being able to catch a glimpse of the L.A. Harbor just at the horizon from up above Hollywood, rain was to thank. I just stood there with my mouth open at the sight before me. The pictures in no way capture the expansive view and the gloriousness of what I was taking in.
I just felt so incredibly small. It's hard to even feel like you matter, because well, you really don't here. Maybe you don't really matter anywhere. Who knows, I'm no philosopher.
Last weekend I participated in my first ever 5k race. If you read my blurb here you would know I "skipped" that distance in the beginnings of my running journey. My place of employment was sponsoring one, it was only like $20 and there were a couple of other friends doing it.
At the last minute, I noticed (while desperately searching for race day information beyond an address and date) there was also a 5k relay with three-person teams. Well, considering I knew two other people running the 5k this was an easy choice. We would all run the 5k, and then turn around and run the relay 45 minutes later. My fellow runners were mixtures of enthusiastic about this prospect, but finally it was two against one and the third acquiesced.
I actually did some preparing for this race and hit some decent paces and mileage - as in my marathon pace for like 5 miles. So maybe that's not what you would call "decent" or even "respectable" but it's a massive improvement from not doing a damn thing.
Fast forward to race day. Nothing at all interesting about pre-race. The basic bib-pick up with the additional "baton pick-up" which was novel. The registration was kind of a mess, but after talking to enough people I was able to find the table with no sign that held my bibs and the baton. I wanted to do a warm-up mile but I only got in about .3 miles because there really wasn't anywhere to go. My first mile is always very slow, so I wanted to get that out of the way. Didn't happen.
I was a little nervous about the race because I wanted to do well. I had a goal of 27 minutes and though in retrospect I should not have had that goal, I just can't seem to not be competitive, at least with myself. My fastest 5k time (running on my own) was 24:40, so 27 minutes was by no means lofty.
We got called to line up and there were maybe 100 runners? Tiny crowd, but I think this was the inaugural event and maybe they didn't market it too widely. Annoyingly, after we lined up there was a lot of talking by maybe the race director? Maybe someone else. Then they also did the national anthem and some more talking. This would have been much more appropriate to do before having all the runners line up.
FINALLY I think a horn sounded and we were off. I wanted to run fast. I really did. I don't know anything about pacing myself for this short of a race, I thought that it was kind of like a sprint. Well, compared to a marathon, this my be considered a sprint, but 3 miles is never, ever a sprint. No one can sprint for three miles, or I am pretty sure that goes against the definition.
The course was three loops, and I use the term "loop" reluctantly. It was basically an "L" shaped course roped off in the middle to create an out lane and a back lane. I guess scenery isn't that important for a 5k, but I think they could have done better than using only the one street in front of the park.
Doesn't matter, I wasn't thinking about that. I couldn't stop thinking about my chest pain. Which was a mixture of caffeine, nerves, and general anxiety. In a longer race, your nerves wear off once you settle into your pace and burn off some energy, and then typically they pick back up again when you get close to the finish. But in a short race, basically that's all you have is the start and finish.
My first loop came in at 8:10 pace. The course was a little long I realized, which was bad for my pacing strategy (really, a lack thereof). I would have to continue sprinting for longer than I had anticipated.
Lap two was slower, but not by much. I went out too fast I knew.
Lap three was a little slower. I definitely started too fast, but it was too late to make any changes. I just had to keep it up. My kept checking my pace. And it kept dropping. 8:17... 8:20... 8:23... 8:30... 8:30?! Oh hell no. So I sped up as much as possible, which was not much. Finally my Garmin hit 3 miles, and I was very much a quarter mile from the finish. But everyone runs the same course, so it really didn't make much of a difference. I flew past some walkers on their second (maybe first?!) loop to try to get to the finish line ASAP. I came up on a male runner and passed him, then he tried to pass me and I said "no way, buddy!" (silently to myself I said it). And then I took it home in one last push that made me hurt bad.
And here's what all that got me:
26:59 - yep. Pretty rad right? That would have easily been 26 minutes on a 3.1 course. I was the fifth female overall. But there were like 40 women? And more than half of them walked? So whatever.
"Official" results... not that I would call anything about this race very official.
Then the fun started. My team members and I took a guess as to which color bib would go first based on the order in which they were pinned together, and we planned our relay strategy. Our third-leg runner went to change shirts and then five minutes later, they call us to line up. Well our supposed third-leg runner was then nowhere to be found when it was announced blue bibs would run the first leg. What a mess... this would have easily been avoided by like, telling people ahead of time which bib color would go first. Not a very difficult concept methinks.
We walked all over looking for him. Everyone was lining up. We thought we were going to have to forfeit. Then, finally at the last minute he comes running up. He had in fact heard that blue bibs would go first, and so he had been on his way after all.
Blue bibs lined up, my other team member and I switched bibs because I didn't want to have to anchor us, and then blue bibs were off.
It was a lot of fun cheering on our relay team member! And when he finished his loop in third place, it was very exciting. Except, I was next ... and someone immediately passed me.
But I held on, and I ran like hell and it was really hard. My ankle started to get sore, but it wasn't much further
Relay team results... Yes, my mile was the slowest.
Rewind to registration. I am registering our team. There are multiple ways of registering for the relay, including an option that looked normal, "Family," and "VIP." Ok, well I don't know what "VIP" means, but life lessons have taught me, if "normal" and "VIP" are the same price, you go for the VIP. Which I did. I learned later that VIP was for teams who were sponsored by a sponsoring organization. Since I work for one of the sponsors, this actually was the correct choice, even though I missed out on having my company pay for it.
Back to the story. We stuck around for awards because I thought I was getting an age-group award since I was technically third in my age group. Except, they changed the age group to 18-35... so no award for me. The other age group was 35+... sheesh. But my co-worker got an age group award, and then we actually thought we might get a relay medal since some of the results looked like they didn't have a time. By the way, we waited like an hour after the last race for awards. Definitely something that needs to be addressed at the next event.
They announced the relay awards and we were not in the top three. But then... "In the VIP Relay category"... what?!? Hell yeah! We might win something after all. Third place... second place... and then "the first place goes to...." and it was us! By a technicality and a stroke of genius on my part, we were officially 5k relay gold medalists.
The rest is history. And I have three medals from this event that all look the same.
Running in Australia
How to Volunteer at a Race
Running in NYC Part I
All my recaps
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