On Friday night, I wrote a post about running solo in preparation for 18 miles Saturday morning. While I wasn’t necessarily excited about spending the morning by myself I knew that it would a run that would make me stronger mentally.
But about 15 minutes later, my phone vibrated.
To my surprise, the organizer of our work run club, Marcial, wanted to join me for a few miles. I eagerly said yes but warned him that the pace would be slower than our mid-week runs and that I may not be too talkative. He happily agreed and was even willing to meet me on our front step at 6:45am!
I woke at 5:40, an hour before the run, and quickly made and ate breakfast before doing anything else so that I’d have time to digest the peanut butter and banana toast. Next, I filled my Camelbak with plain water, instead of NUUN, and made sure that I put my 3 GU’s in the zipper pocket so we wouldn’t have a replay of last week’s fueling mistake. While I love NUUN, Gia suggested trying water this week to see if my body reacts better as she has experienced and heard of others experiencing sensitivity when pairing NUUN with Shot Blocks or GU type products.
Having this hour of quiet to myself really helped put me in a good mood and spirit for the run. I spent some time stretching and foam rolling, I sent a few early morning Twitter messages to other runners who were up early for races and long runs, had plenty of time to use the bathroom, and had time to just focus. It was a nice change from the normal rush around the house in the morning, even though it did mean waking up earlier.
As I was walking out the door Marcial texted me saying he had no water or fuel. Even though he wasn’t sure how long he’d be able to make it since his furthest run prior to Saturday was 8 miles, I knew he’d still want at least a little something. I dashed inside and grabbed a water bottle and an extra bag of Sport Beans from our fuel box.
By 7 we were off and running through the cool, Fall air. Saturday morning truly felt like Fall in Manhattan. The air was crisp and when we were in the shade of the East River Path it was actually cold. I asked Marcial if he was fine just going with the path I mapped the night prior, 18 miles along the East River Path, South to the tip of Manhattan, north along the West Side Highway, then turning on 59th to head across the city and into Central Park for a few laps of the lower loop. He smiled ear to ear in eager excitement. That’s when I realized just how much fun this run would be.
I spent the next 3 hours laughing with Marcial as I showed him Manhattan from my favorite vantage point, running on two feet. We literally were able to watch the city wake up during our run. Some of the highlights included the amazing cloud formation above Queens, elderly Asians doing a cardio workout to MC Hammer in South Street Seaport, watching eager tourists line up for the Staten Island Ferry, fitness instructors setting up their gear for a day worth of workouts on the Hudson River piers, laughing at how much dogs really do look like their owners, and bandit running part of the NYRR Fitness 4 miler by accident, and then finally pushing our tired legs up Cat Hill at the 16 mile point.
While we ran I answered all his questions about running and smiled at things I hadn’t wondered in so long, like what is that pack runners keep sucking on as they run by us (GU). In addition, we had the fun chance to see a few blog readers out on the path which really made this city seem tiny. It was such a nice surprise to have a few wave or say hello as they passed by, especially the rock star who pushed up the 59th street hill with us and joined in our grunts and agony before smiling and telling us about her 20 mile run she was finishing in preparation for Chicago! (GOOD LUCK!!)
Every mile past 8 was a new personal distance record for Marcia and it was so great to see his smile each time I’d tell him another mile had past. In the end, he lasted 16.5 miles! The key to him lasting was his enthusiasm and our pace. His normal pace is closer to a 9 minute mile so running around a 10:15-10:30 pace seemed easier over the long run.
This was exactly the run I needed to have this week in order to move into the second half of marathon training strong. Our pace was pretty steady, hovering around 10:30 almost the entire time, my new fueling strategies worked wonderfully, my body felt strong through the last mile, and mentally I felt the strongest ever.
48 days out from the marathon I couldn’t be happier with my training to date and the results that are starting to show. Below are the splits from yesterday and I can’t be happier. Nothing under 10 and nothing over 10:47.