It’s been awhile since I’ve had a run that just feels like…….a run. Either I’m thinking about my pace (lately, it’s been, “Why am I so slow??”) or I’m thinking about if something hurts or if something is going to hurt. One of things I like about running how I don’t have to think about it, but over the past year-ish, one injury after another has made me put a lot of thought into my runs. Or at least thinking about if my hip/groin/calf really hurts or if I’m just imagining it. It takes some of the fun out of running.
But every now and then you get one of those runs. The run where everything just feels right. A fast pace feels conversational. Your legs are just moving, your lungs don’t feel like they’re working that hard, the hills feel like they run themselves. The run that keeps us running through those tough runs.
This morning, I had one of those runs. To be honest, I wasn’t totally looking forward to it. I ran four miles on Saturday, and it felt fine. I didn’t feel like I was slogging through the run, which I’ve definitely had my fair share of lately, but it didn’t feel like anything special. Just four miles. (8:16 pace, if you’re truly curious.) Mainly, it got the job done, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tired at the end. Being tired at the end of four miles doesn’t exactly make you excited to run long the next day. I was also in charge of leading the long run for The Battalion this week, and the long run was set to start at 8am so we could finish up by cheering for teammates running the NYRR Grid Iron race. I would like so much to be a morning person, but I am not, and waking up at 7am is really not my style. (Maybe it should be after today’s success…)
My alarm went off at 7am, I laid in bed for a few more minutes before getting up to have some coffee and a banana with peanut butter. Got dressed and headed out the door. After cleaning my entire closet and dresser a few weeks ago, I found some running tops I used to love but ended up buried in a mass of running clothes, I wore a top I was excited to wear again! The little things. I jogged over to Central Park and met with Jim, my teammate for the run! Small turn out this morning, but it turned out just fine. He asked me what pace I was thinking about running – I said 8:30-ish to be a little conservative. Sometimes 8:15 feels great, and other times I’m holding onto 8:45 for dear life. Not sure what was to come, we headed into Central Park to start our loop.
The temperature was in the high 30’s with little wind – basically, perfect winter running weather. We chatted the entire way – down the lower loop of Central Park, up Cat Hill, heading up to Harlem. I wasn’t paying attention to the pace on my watch, but what we were running felt comfortable so I didn’t feel the need to check. As we headed north, Jim asked what pace we were at – it was somewhere around 7:50, which I blamed on the downhill. I was honestly a little surprised at the pace, as 7:50 hasn’t felt easy in a long time! Down the hills in Harlem we went, then up Harlem Hill. It’s always a game of who is going to talk on this hill – basically, we both went silent and just worked up the hill. At the top, I put my arms up in victory and enjoyed the downhill. Jim was a little gassed by the hill and told me to go ahead, but we stuck out the downhill and rolled through the west side hills together. (“They’re not so bad,” we told ourselves.) I actually think the rollers after Harlem Hill are more difficult than Harlem Hill itself, but that’s just me. We kept the pace under control back to 72nd St, marking the end of our loop together. Jim joked that he could have written a book about the highs and lows of the run – more emotions than a marathon – but we did well and had a great ran! We said our goodbyes with plans to meet up to cheer for the race.
I headed down the repeat the lower loop and Cat Hill to get to Engineer’s Gate. I felt awesome, and the downhill certainly helped! My pace was creeping down, and it felt good to be moving a bit. (7:35? Yes, please!) The volunteers were getting cheer mode on, starting to clap for random runners in the park while waiting for the racers to come by, so that was pretty cool. I felt so solid heading up Cat Hill and finishing up at Engineer’s Gate, where I saw Dougie and Jim waiting as the cheer crew. I was 8.5 miles into my long run, but it was time to stop and spread some cheer!
We watched as the lead runners game through – first and second place were wayyyyy ahead of the pack, then we saw Danika push through, definitely not looking like she was on her way to dropping a 6:48 mile! Way to represent for the Battalion!
Ninja in all black…with some neon shoes!
After the quick cheer stop, I took a detour on the Bridle Path and then headed down the west side to get home. The stop didn’t had too much creak to my legs, plus I had the downhills of the west side rollers helping me out. I felt awesome and pushed it in the last half mile to run a 7:20 mile. YESSSSSS.
Sometimes running just feels so good.
10 miles on the dot – 1:18:21, avg pace of 7:50. I like it. I felt a bit like my old running self, where I’d just head out and everything felt right. All the time. (I didn’t know how good I had it!) Running has been kind of rough lately, but runs like this remind me why I love it so much. Effortless and awesome.