It was a beautiful Sunday morning, hundreds of people were running through Central Park, seemingly unaware of the tens of thousands who would be running there later. While the scores of Baltimore supporters were scattered about the five boroughs, Alyssa and I ran around the Park. I had a vision, premonition, whatever, that Ryan Hall was going to pop up around a corner at any second. Nearly an hour into the run, it hadn't happened, and I began to lose hope, as we headed back to where we started.
Just then, a tall runner, a flash in neon yellow, with blonde hair, appeared, running so fast and light it was like he was running on clouds. It was Ryan Hall. I pointed my finger in the air to acknowledge him, or maybe, subconsciously to let him know that "we got him," and he silently did the same. It was the coolest thing ever. Not because it was Ryan Hall, but because I believed it would happen, and then it did.
I also realized that it's one of the reasons that the New York City Marathon is the best race on the planet (I'm sure any triathlete readers of this will disagree). It matters to EVERYONE. Everyone is there. There are two races that most Americans know: Boston, and New York. Most runners will be more impressed if you ran Boston, because they realize that means you qualified for it, but a lot of people don't get that. The race has been around for what, 115 years? New York's been around for 40. Boston's limit is 25ish thousand. Does New York even have one? (There are talks of expanding NYC to a two day event, with a race on Saturday and another on Sunday, to allow for up to 100,000 competitors. This I actually don't agree with). Boston is significant to Americans. New York is an international race in an international city.
Enough about the merits, I just love the NYC Marathon. And it's only my opinion.
Anyway it was a terrific day for a number of my little teammates, and a tough day for others. No matter what happened, it was great to be able to see them in a few spots, and support them on their 26.2 mile journey through the boroughs. And by boroughs, I mostly mean Manhattan because I wasn't going to try to get to any other spots. We got to mile 17-ish right as the men's lead pack was going by - they were flying. Waited there for all of our friends, then ran back up to the Park and saw with a mile and a half to go.
For me, it was another exhausting weekend. Last week I took a look at the weather and it was determined that Thursday was going to be the best day of the week, so I took advantage of the kinder weather and got out for a longer ride. I set out to do my Lineboro ride (115) but I was just not feeling it, and the light situation was not going to allow it. But I made it up to Lineboro and thanks to last minute map adjustments from Alyssa (phone), I was able to re-route and cut off a bunch of miles. At least an hour's worth. I was disappointed it didn't end up being longer, but at 96 miles it would have to do. I got back into city limits and it was pretty dark, and still had to run. Fortunately, Ed and Pat were going to run just then, so the timing was perfect. 6 miles off the bike, day done.
Friday wasn't as nice, and on my 9 mile run I was not feeling tremendously comfortable running 6:25/mi. We also had three straight days of tough swims, starting with Wednesday's 30x100. I have now done this workout a few times with Alyssa, and I made it on the intervals fine, but it wasn't as easy as I felt it should have been. Thursday was rough, Friday was a little better.
Friday evening we headed up to NJ, getting to my parents' around 10:30. An after-midnight bedtime meant I was tired waking up Saturday as we headed over to Holmdel Park - site of NJ Meet of Champs - to do a little cross country race. My best time there in high school was a paltry 18:20 or something. It's a hard course. I never raced there after that until a few years ago when I was coming off the 2003 injury. I ran 18:52 basically two years in a row, and at that point I was running under 17 on the road. Ha! Cross country racing is just so different, and in order to really do well, you need to race a whole season on the grass.
This year I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew my sister's old high school teammate, and my new nemesis, Erin Lunny, would be running, and I didn't feel like getting beat if I could avoid it. But, I have just felt so slow lately, and I also had a 4+ hour ride after the race. I went out pretty chill, running the first mile in an awful 6:32. Yikes. It goes uphill on grass for 400m before kicking up for another 100m, steeper, and on rocks. Then you roll for another 500m, and then still head slightly uphill to the mile mark. The 2nd mile is the "Bowl Mile", which features a quarter mile on flat dirt road, quarter mile downhill, then straight up for 200m, and rolls again to the 2 mile. That was 6:18. Back in the day I could have gone 6 minutes for the last 1.1, which is flat and then downhill, but I didn't have the turnover. And that darn E-Lun was like 10 seconds ahead of me the whole time. I finished up at 19:15, decent enough for what it was, and recovered almost instantly. Alyssa ran awesome - a 21:00 would be good enough to be on most girls' varsity teams, and was a minute 5k PR (granted she hasn't run many).
Then it was bike time. I have a 74 mile ride that goes out past Great Adventure, and into Allentown. The roads at home are much easier than they are here, but there is just so much traffic due to the high number of guidos that drive around in their obscenely huge cars and SUVs. That's NJ for you. I used to be able to crush this ride, on my road bike, so I figured riding my TT bike I should be alright. It was super cold and super windy, and I was not feeling it. I had to wear my jacket, I was that cold. I was uncomfortable in the aero bars so I literally rode maybe 5 miles total in the bars. What a waste of bringing that bike up! It already messes me up enough to ride that bike, since the position kills my knee. It took us a shade over 4 hours to do the ride.
Then it was time to drive to NYC. Got there just before 8, ate dinner, crashed out. I was just too tired. Fortunately, we got an extra hour, which felt great and I felt a lot better Sunday, but was still beat from Saturday. I decided I would run with Alyssa for 75-80 minutes of her 2 hour run. I had alotted 10-12 miles of running for myself, and knew that I would have to run some again to watch the race. Alyssa has been getting faster, but obviously our paces are not the same, so we tried to meet in the middle a little. It meant that she was going to have to run a bit faster than normal. We had a good 85 minutes of running, so at least 10.5 miles I'd guess, and then I ran probably another 2+ during the race. But watching those races is tiring, you're on your feet ALL day. And then you have to drive back to Baltimore. A very long day.
So today I am taking it easy, I'm inside of two weeks now and I just need to get to the line a little refreshed!