Manhattan to Brooklyn Long Run

Sometimes when I look back on my blog, I realize how many running adventures I used to go on, and how much I loved them.  Maybe I made every run more exciting in my head, but sometimes I feel like I forgot how fun it can be to try a new run or even just to make sure I plan a run with friends.  One problem with planning these running adventures/running with others they more than likely need to happen on the weekend.  Most weekends, I either work or am out of town (not complaining about that part!), so when I realized that I was off on Saturday and would be in NYC, I knew I needed to make a plan!

I haven’t run with Betsy since June, so I asked her if she would be up for a long run.  After a year of being spoiled by living a block away from her when I first moved to NYC, we’ve slowly moved (physically) farther apart, as last year she moved to Brooklyn.  This leaves an excellent opportunity for a run involving both boroughs – always a fun time.  I haven’t run over a bridge in I-don’t-know-how-long, so I was really excited about that.  We planned to meet at Columbus Circle, head down the west side, run over a bridge (game time decision which one), run over to Prospect Park, and run a loop of the park.  Perfect.

As I’ve mentioned about 47 times, I’m nervous about my groin acting up.  I told Betsy I needed to keep it slow – 8:30-ish, please!  She agreed and away we went.  I thought about grabbing my handheld water bottle to take with me, but I hate carrying things so I figured the water fountains would suffice.  Unfortunately, it was a little warm out so I immediately regretted that decision as I headed toward Columbus Circle.  Live and learn?  After fighting a few crowds on the way to the west side, we settled into a pace and the miles clicked off.  She updated me on her recent trip to Hawaii (I’m sold – who wants to go??) and we filled each other in on our lives otherwise.  Isn’t it the best when you don’t even realize you’re running?  Life is good.

Once we got down to Chambers Street, we headed east toward the Brooklyn Bridge.  It was about 10-10:30 by the time we got there, so we discussed how crazy the bridge would be.  Should we fight the crowds because the Brooklyn Bridge is fun to run over?  Should we make our way to the Manhattan Bridge, guaranteed to be less crowded?  We decided we would check it out and just take it single file, whatever pace it took to get over the bridge.  That all changed when we got to the base of the bridge and it was PACKED.  Alright, new plan.  We checked our phones for the route to the Manhattan Bridge, and I took the opportunity to buy a bottle of water.  (Best purchase ever.)  We then proceeded to weave our way through Chinatown with crowded sidewalks to get to the Manhattan Bridge.

Up and over we go.  I’m pretty sure the last time I was on the Manhattan Bridge was on a run date a few years ago (obviously not with Eric…) because making someone run 10+ miles with you is a great way to find out if you’re good together, hahaha.  (Side note:  It was about two years ago when I first flew to Minneapolis to see Eric, and he rode his bike next to me for 18 miles – test passed!  Awwwwww.)  Moving on.  We kept to ourselves as we headed up the bridge, stopping in the middle for the most needed photo op.

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People apparently like to paint the bridge…

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Not such a bad view…

I took the opportunity to eat the chews I brought with me – I carried five, which is about 100-ish calories.  Every time I train for a marathon, I say I need to practice carrying fuel with me and eating it, but I never do – so here’s a start!  This is also the longest run I’ve done so far, so it’s time to start working that in.  After finishing our eating and photo taking, we headed down the bridge into Brooklyn.

Getting from the bridge to Prospect Park is a straight shot down Flatbush, but it involves quite a bit of stoplights.  I suppose if we ran earlier there might have been less traffic, but it was stop and go for awhile there.  I hate that feeling in the middle of a run because you just want to keep going, and it’s harder to start every time you stop.  But oh well.  It was also getting hot, so a shaded park sounded really great right about then!

Around mile 9-10-ish, we made it into Prospect Park and hit up a much needed water fountain.  Betsy headed home a little after ten miles, and I planned to do another loop before meeting her at her apartment.  We said, “See you soon!” and I took off to finish my final four miles.  I haven’t run in Prospect Park much, and the last time I was there was for the Brooklyn Half last year, so it’s been awhile.  I’m not familiar with the park at all, minus knowing that there’s one hill and that’s about it.  I had picked up the pace a little, mostly ready to get the run done.  My groin felt okay, but I could notice some soreness there – just get through this run!  It was fun to run in Prospect Park, checking out a pond I didn’t know was there (oops?) and seeing the park traffic that seemed a little less chaotic than Central Park.  Eventually, I made it to the hill and climbed up it, keeping a guy in a red shirt near me for motivation.  I passed him at the top of the hill and headed back down toward the exit for Betsy’s apartment.

Exiting the park with only half a mile to go – woohoo!  I hit 14 miles with a little bit left to go, so I ran until my watch said two hours – certainly a milestone I haven’t hit in a few months.  I finished up with a couple block walk to her apartment – DONE!

14.24 miles in 2:00:21, avg pace of 8:27

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The pace was a little all over the place – hard to keep pace when you’re constantly stopping, starting, and avoiding some crowds.  I’m glad I had a few faster-ish miles near the end.  Overall, a solid long run.

We hung out at Betsy’s apartment for a little bit, where she offered me water and watermelon.  Watermelon sounded deliciously refreshing after a long run, and we may have been a bit aggressive in our consumption…

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The aftermath.

As we pondered our foot options, Betsy recommended Saltie in Williamsburg – known for their excellent sandwiches.  I love sandwiches.  A lot.  So we headed to Williamsburg, where we both got sandwiches called the “Scuttlebutt” – hard boiled egg (that’s good for recovery, right?), feta, black olives, capers, pickles, and pimento aioli.  IT WAS MAGICAL.  And a little bit messy, sorry Saltie.  Highly recommended if you’re in Williamsburg!  After some plant shopping for Betsy, I hopped on the subway and headed home – happy for having a good long run, good times with a friend, and for checking out some new places!

Thanks for the adventure, Solemate.  (It’s a few days shy of our five year friendiversary – hooray!)

Do you like to keep the same running route routine, or do you like to mix it up a bit?  To those running fall marathons – what are your long runs up to?

Thoughts on Training So far

Warning:  I talk about paces relative to my own ability in this post, so if that is difficult for you, please move on!  Thanks!

If you asked me how marathon training is going, I’m not sure what I would tell you.  On one hand, I’m always happy to be running.  On the other hand, I’m not exactly running how I would love to be running.  There’s a difference.  After having a mysterious injury earlier this year, I knew coming back after taking time off would be hard.  But man – it’s rough.  Especially because I do have a lingering aching pain in my groin, which makes me nervous.  (I will continue to say that forever and ever.)  I’ve pondered only running every other day, but that’s hard with my ever changing work schedule.  I don’t plan to run more than four days per week, not even tempting myself with a short easy run on days that I work.  That’s a lot of stress.  And I’m trying to keep all my runs on the easier side.

It’s amazing how your perception of “easy” can change.

Not too long ago, I could cruise along at a well-sub-8 pace and feel great about it.  One friend called me the “7:40 Queen” because I’d always run right around there without even looking at my watch.  It was the pace that naturally came to me.  I’m sure people will argue that I should run slower.  That I needed to run slower.  But thinking about running makes it less fun, so I liked to just go – and just going was at 7:40 pace.

My last long, long run before getting injured was 18 miles, which I ran at 7:48 pace, and I felt awesome.  I know I should run slower for long runs, but see above.  (I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW.)  My point is that it wasn’t hard.  For my runs lately, I’ve been telling myself to hold around 8:30 pace to keep it easy and not to put extra pressure on my groin.  It is mentally really, really difficult for me to see those numbers on my watch.  (Someone is going to hate me for writing about that, but speed is relative, and 8:30 is slow for me.  Okay?  Okay.)  But I try to hold back and keep that 8:30 pace. 

Sometimes, 8:30 is a little bit of a struggle in itself.  It’s always taken me a few miles to warm up, so a run of three-four miles is really hard for me – it’s just getting good, and the run is over!  Those runs tend to be closer to a slower pace because I’m not warmed up yet.  Once I get a few miles under my belt, my old legs tend to take over a bit, and the pace pushes closer to eight minutes.  I get a little reminder of the old days.  If I try to push it a little, it feels much more of a struggle, so I try to hold off.  But it’s so, so hard.  Dropping a 6:40 mile at the R-U-N 5k a few weeks ago felt amazing – who doesn’t want to fly?  I know I’m not really ready to do that, and I wonder if perhaps the flare up a couple weeks ago could be attributed to running fast.  (Who knows, not me.)

I realize that perhaps the slower pace could be totally due to the heat of the summer – it’s been in the 80’s and 90’s for a couple months now, not to mention the addition of humidity!  So maybe I should go easy on myself, not to mention the pace.  I’m just trying to not get injured here.

And to be slightly dramatic, I wonder if maybe I’m a little past my prime.  My marathon PR is from 2011, although I ran quite close to it in 2013.  I’ve been battling injury for most of the years since.  I’ve been running for almost 18 years (…yikes), so I certainly have plenty of miles under my belt.  Maybe it’s time to train better.  Or smarter.  Both?  But sometimes I do wonder what I have left in me.  Or what a really strong, injury-free training cycle could bring.  The dream is still there.

My runs so far this week have been…

Monday – Four miles at 8:24 pace.  It was hot, I’d worked the past three days, and I’d walked about six miles prior to running.  Oops?

Wednesday – Seven miles at 8:12 pace.  The last two miles made me think my distance years would need to come to an end.

Thursday – Seven miles at 7:59 – I started the run at almost 8:40 pace for the first mile, and I really struggled with that mentally.  I wondered if it would get easier.  Then all of a sudden 8 minute miles were clicking off and I loved running again.

I kind of hate that my love for running is tied to the time on my watch.  I do love to run, but I also love to chase goals, and it’s hard to see reaching those goals when every day runs don’t feel as easy as they used to.  Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s coming back from injury, maybe it’s trying to keep injury at bay.  I’m not sure.

Have you struggled with setbacks in training?  How do you fit them into your long-term plan?  How’s your summer training going?

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