july 4th weekend adventures and running

Happy Fourth of July from a train somewhere in Connecticut!  Eric and I headed up to New Haven, as my college roommate just moved up here for her post-doc!  (And by “just” moved here, I definitely mean “just”…she got here on Wednesday, and we arrived on Friday – brave soul, that Sara.)  This is the first time since college we’ve lived so close to one another, so I’m looking forward to being able to see her much more often.  Clearly taking advantage of that as soon as we could!  Friday also happened to be her birthday (welcome to your 30’s!  They’re not too bad, I promise), so piece of cake.

We arrived by train (God bless America and God bless Metro North because it’s so much cheaper than Amtrak…) and hung out for a bit before heading to the famous Frank Pepe pizza – we split a variety of pies, including the clam pizza.  Quite delicious, if I must say so myself.  Then we headed to Geronimo for margaritas.  I decided on a spicy passion fruit marg, which was made with jalapeno infused tequila.  My mouth was on fire!  Luckily, it was just hot enough to make me take little sips, but not so hot that I couldn’t drink it.  If you are ever in New Haven, Geronimo has delicious drinks, but beware of the spice!  We capped off the night at Cask Republic, where they have a bazillion beers.  I had City Steam’s Naughty Nurse – I hate the “naughty nurse” concept, but I felt like I had to get a beer with “nurse” in the name – it was pretty good!  The beverages added up over time, so luckily we got a soft pretzel and some fries to snack on.  Heading home was a good idea after that, and I slept quite well!  Saturday was spent hanging out, getting some brunch, then helping Sara and Scott unpack.  We made good progress, but now we’re headed back to the city – I have to work on Sunday, so my holiday weekend is cut a bit short.  #nurseproblems

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Happy birthday, Sara!!

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Eric is looking thrilled at the train station!

Of course, I squeezed in my running in the midst of all this fun! I kicked of everyone else’s version of the holiday weekend (aka Friday) with a long run.  Hal Higdon’s plan called for eight miles, which would be my first run over an hour since coming back from injury.  It almost seems too soon to be running that much (didn’t I just start running again?), but here we are.  My runs haven’t felt that great this week, and we had a softball Thursday night.  Playing catcher is kind of like doing eight million squats where you don’t feel it until the next day.  My hip/groin has also been a little more cranky than usual, so I’m keeping a close eye on that.  After some coffee, water, a banana with peanut butter, and some lunges/stretches, I headed out the door.  A little warm up walk, and away we went.

Eric had mentioned that it was sunny and a bit warm out, so I opted to run in Central Park where I could at least get some shade at times.  Plus, I haven’t run a full loop of Central Park in quite awhile, so I was looking forward to getting back to that.  As a last minute decision, I threw on my HR monitor – I don’t use it much, but I figured it might be good to help gauge my effort since I’m not totally sure about pacing yet, and hopefully I’ll be able to see a difference once I get a little more in shape.

I took it easy and paid attention to any pain I might have in my hip/groin.  Definitely felt a little tight in my lower back – it always feels tight when I wake up, and it’s hard to stretch.  No problems with my groin though, so thumbs up for that.  Took it easy around the lower loop and headed up Cat Hill.  Definitely felt the heat despite it only being 70 degrees.  Keeping an eye on my HR, I tried to pull back when I hit around 170 (oops), but it’s hard to do that on a hill because I also just want the hills to be over with!  Headed north in the park and down Harlem Hill – which means that you eventually have to go UP Harlem Hill – one of the toughest spots of the park, even though the climb is only about 1/3 of a mile.  I just tried to keep trucking, looking forward to being open up my stride and reap the rewards down the other side of the hill.  Always makes that climb worth it.

With the heat, I pondered grabbing a handheld water bottle, but there are plenty of water fountains in the park, so I opted to just stop when I felt like I needed a drink. Of course, I don’t love stopping because: 1. The clock doesn’t stop in a race and 2. Sometimes it’s harder to get moving again once you stop.  I almost stopped after about four miles to get a sip of water, but it’s hard for me to get back into a rhythm with the rolling hills on the west side of a park, so I didn’t want to stop until they were over.  This led me to a water fountain right around the six mile mark.

If you read my last post, I mentioned about how some cyclists were a bit unpleasant on my run.  The cyclist at this water fountain redeemed all the nastiness from yesterday – he had water bottles to fill up, but he let all the runners in line take a drink before he filled his bottles.  Thank you, cyclist sir.  I took a quick drink and headed for another loop to hit eight miles for the day.  Keeping my watch on the HR screen means that I don’t know what my pace is, which I like because I don’t obsess over it.  I don’t necessarily react to a change in HR as much as I would seeing a certain pace on my watch, so it keeps me somewhat in control.  The lower loop always seems to be a quick loop for me, and I definitely pushed the pace a bit as I entered my last mile.  I heard a guy huffing and puffing behind me as I ran in my last quarter mile – a 7:38 mile!  I’ll take it.  I know it’s not how you should finish a long run, but it made me feel strong and like the old Susan might be hiding in my legs somewhere…just needs some more work to fully come out.

Friday, July 3 – 8.04 miles in 1:05:20, avg pace of 8:07 (avg HR 171)

imageShould probably run slower.  But not too shabby.

This morning, I pondered getting up and heading out for a run before I heard everyone else stirring, but I think the beer dehydrated me a bit and I wasn’t keen on getting up to run.  Then it was time for brunch, which certainly requires some downtime before running.  I definitely pondered not running, but the chance of me getting up to run before work is slim to none, so away I went.  With limited knowledge about New Haven, I ran with my phone and figured out my route on the move.  (The beauty of running, that’s for sure.)  A bit of the run was in a park, but I spent a fair amount of time trying to reorient myself and figure out to add on some mileage for the out and back.  I definitely felt a bit sluggish, but that’s to be expected after being a little dehydrated and having brunch, right?  A five mile recovery run doesn’t exactly need to be the greatest thing ever, so I took it.  And I happened to pack my best red, white, and blue, so I got a few “Happy 4th!” comments from people I passed.  I like it.

Sunday, July 4 – 5.01 miles in 41:53, avg pace of 8:22

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Just a little run through the park.

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That RNR Dallas shirt certainly came in handy!  And I’ve had those running shorts since (about) 2001…

In an ideal world, I’d run about three miles tomorrow – but like I said, getting up before work really isn’t my thing (and would make for a really long shift…) and usually running after work feels like such a slog that it’s not really worth it/probably not helping training at all.  We shall see.

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend, but to all the nurses/doctors/retail/etc who have to work this weekend (but especially the nurses), I shall leave you with this video because it is hilaaaaaaaarious.  The world needs nurses.  Happy 4th!

can’t we all just get along

Last night, Eric and I headed to Citi Field for the Mets/CUBS game.  It was a fairly boring game overall, only made interesting by some poor base running.  The most fascinating play of the game was a steal at third where the Cubs runner pulled his leg bag just before hitting the bag to avoid a tag.  Strong work, Cubs.  Now if only the third base coach would send the runners home, maybe it wouldn’t have taken 11 innings to score a run.

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Gatsby hanging in his Cubs gear.

After running an early morning errand for a friend this morning, I headed out on a run of my own.  I’m still feeling a bit tired from this past week – gotta snap out of that!  But in the meantime I told myself to take it easy, to not be a slave to my watch, and to JUST RUN.  Five miles.  I had a bit of a dry mouth – most likely from having baseball beers (only two…) and not drinking enough water.  Luckily, I was out the door around 9-ish and it wasn’t too hot quite yet.  In an effort to maximize my proximity to the most number of water fountains, I walked down to the Hudson River Path and ran south along the river.

Within the first mile, a cyclist rode by a bit too close to me while saying, “Heyyyyyyyyyyyy” followed by staring back at me and waving.  I don’t think this guy, but I’m pretty sure he’s done things like this before while I’ve run along the river.  (Creepy?  Am I overreacting?)  I brush it off as kind of annoying and inappropriate and keep running.  The path isn’t busy because it’s 9am on a Thursday – the highlight of not running when the masses are out.  I hit the halfway point and turn around.  At about 3.5 miles in (around 42nd St, for those keeping track), a cyclist is riding the opposite direction I’m running.  Very loudly, he says, “Oh, how scenic.  Runners in the bike lane!”

For those unfamiliar with the NYC path, it’s a typical pedestrian asphalt path – complete with the line down the middle to tell you what side you should be on for the direction you’re heading.  (Some people still can’t figure this out, which is beyond me…there are pictures on the ground!)  There are parts of the path where signs direct “joggers/pedestrians” to another path, but it often goes in and out of the bike path and sometimes runs you through traffic.  Therefore, I, as well as many other runners, run on the “bike” path.  This path is also for people on wheels, such as rollerblading, so it’s not solely a bike path.

Now, as someone who trained for a triathlon last year, I kind of got the cyclist’s side of the argument when it comes to traffic/paths/omg get-out-of-my-way-before-I-run-you-over.  And yes, it is a path for people on wheels.  But if it’s a slow weekday morning with plenty of room for everyone – even tourists on city bikes and some casual riders that I manage to run faster than they’re riding their bikes – can’t we just deal?

Can’t we all just get along?

Last year, a cyclist hit a woman crossing the street in Central Park, and she passed away.  This is terrible and not something I’m looking to discuss right now (speed limits in the park, pedestrian crossings, stoplights, etc.), but it brought up a big cyclists vs runners vs people walking through the park discussion.  To which I wanted to say then, “Can’t we all just get along?”  Pay attention to each other, not assume we are the most important person ever and that we have the right of way.

Or that someone else is in “your space.”  I get why cyclists get upset about runners/walkers/etc – people are unpredictable and not paying attention, leading them into your path quicker than you may be able to react.  People don’t always look before they cross a path, and it can be scary when you’re clipped in, even if you’re not moving that fast.  (Hi, my name is Susan, and I’m slow on the bike.)  It’s annoying when I’m running and I can easily react!  But if we all seem to be functioning in peace, do we need to be a pain about the fact that I’m running right on the white line, where you’re not going to ride your bike anyway?

Or maybe I’m wrong.  A runner not in their place.

But why we can’t seem to coexist in peace just boggles my mind.  People say they love how up front and forward New Yorkers are, but I’ve always held that there’s a difference between having no issue with stating your opinion and being rude.  Fine line, my friends.  (And stop the cat calling, geez.)

Am I overreacting?  Did I catch people on a bad day?  (This happens all the time, so probably not…)  Any cyclists have their opinion to share?  Is it like this in other cities, or are too many people sharing a small space in a crowded city?  Tell me everything.

In other news, five mile flew by pretty quick with all these thoughts in my head:

Thursday, July 2 – 5 miles in 41:28, avg pace of 8:17.  I’ll take it.

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