As you likely know, I'm in the middle of training for this year's NYC Marathon. My first ever full marathon - which is something I would have never wanted or even considered doing for most of my life. It's also something I couldn't even have even comprehended just a few years ago. But here I am. Training for the NYC Marathon!
Today I was registered for a long training run in Central Park with New York Road Runners. The run was a 20-miler, but it was up to each runner to pick their distance from 6 - 20 miles. Melanie helped me put together a training schedule based on my history/experience so far and taking into consideration all the other events I have scheduled between now and the marathon. This weekend she told me to run 14 miles. Or 15 if I felt good.
This may (or may not) be obvious, but marathon training is not just about running. Cross-training, being mentally and emotionally healthy, allowing for recovery, stretching, getting good sleep, and food/fuel and hydration are all important too - because they all help with the actual running part. So yesterday, the day before what would be my longest run to date, I drank a lot of water, thought positively about today and for dinner last night I had a few cups of whole wheat macaroni (carb loading!). I made no plans last night so I could be sure to get to bed early - giving myself 7 hours of sleep.
Everything I did yesterday in preparation seemed to work because I woke up at 5am and felt surprisingly good. I drank 2 glasses of water and for breakfast I had a protein shake (soy powder, hemp powder, water, frozen mango, flax seed oil and PB2 powdered peanut butter).
I ran around getting ready and left shortly after 6am. This is what I wore:
- CW-X Ventilated Compression Pants ($90)
- Sugoi RSR Tank ($60)
- Victoria's Secret Sports Bra ($50)
- Under Armor seamless wicking thong ($18)
- Reebok Zignano Fuse Sneakers (free at that Fit Blog conference I attended)
- Wicking Socks (unsure of brand, usually about $4.00/pair)
- Pink bandana ($1)
|I instagrammed my outfit|
I made it to the 59th Street Bridge in Queens in a record 9 minutes (my usual average is 14). There were very few people on it other than myself. Probably not surprising for 6:30am on a Sunday.
|I love the way the light looks this time of morning!|
|self portrait over the 59th St Bridge|
|I love this mural - somewhere in East Harlem (possibly 102nd St)|
|Note the holes in the pants - that's the "ventilator" factor. They definitely kept me cooler than the other CW-X tights I have. I love them! I didn't have sweaty thighs when I was done!|
Sure enough, I ran up that whole hill. To my surprise, I even passed a few people along the way. I accomplished my goal: I made it to the top without stopping! My first victory of the day!
|Running DOWN that hill at a good clip!|
|Yep, my favorite building on Central Park West|
After I made it both up and then down that hill, that was when I thought back to two years ago today - when I ran two miles without stopping for the first time ever. So that was my next goal: Make it to the 2 mile mark without stopping and walking.
Hey, what do you know? Another goal accomplished! I made it to Mile 2 and I was still running!
|Looking and feeling good!|
As for hydration, I made sure to drink a cup of water at almost every water station. They were set up at nearly every mile mark.
|I love water!|
By this time I had already hit the southern most point in the park and we were headed north again towards 102nd St. And I hadn't stopped running yet! My next goal: complete the 6 mile loop without stopping to walk...
At Mile 5, I remember seeing an old man sitting on the perimeter. He was using a pocket knife to peel an orange. It made me cry because I thought about my Grandpa Frank, who passed away last July. He used to use his knife to peel apples and my Dad told me even pulled it out at a Chinese restaurant once to carve a coconut. He was such a character! (He was also a photographer and I think if I have a "good eye" with photography as people say, I got it from him.) It made me wish he had lived long enough to be around for my first marathon. But I know he'll be watching me that day. He's one of the people I'm going to be thinking about when I run.
Whew! Back to running... we continued north, which meant we were approaching another hill... Cat Hill!
|Here kitty kitty!|
Again, I did not let myself walk this hill. My body still felt surprisingly good and I knew I could survive this one. And I did. I ran all the way up cat hill! Another victory!
Not long after that I was back at the starting point which meant I had completed a full loop. I had done something amazing - I ran the entire 6 mile loop in Central Park without stopping!!!
|One loop down, two to go!|
Since my goal was to do 14 miles, I planned to do the full 6 mile loop, then do the 4 mile loop two times. I asked the volunteer how to do the 4 miler, he instructed me to turn west here, on 102nd St and follow the course. After making that left I took my one and only break - a very fast potty break - and consumed half a pack of running chews. Then I immediately continued running. (Note: One advantage from this point forward (for all runners) is that we weren't going any further north than 102nd St - That meant only one time on Harlem Hill and I already got that one over with *phew!)
After turning west on 102nd St, we headed south. And not long after that, there was Mile 7! This was my unofficial halfway point!
|Mile 7 and still feeling good!|
|well hello guys! I'm sure you'll be lapping me again soon, and that's ok with me!|
Then I remember something occurred to me: I wasn't fantasizing about anything. Normally when I run I'm either fantasizing about water, food, sex or simply NOT running. I didn't wish for any of those things. I was perfectly content in my moment and kept running! I even remember thinking at several points "Whose legs are these? Because they don't feel like mine!" It was like I didn't even need to think about what I was doing - my body was just doing it for me. It was incredible!
Before I knew it I was at Mile 8. I'm not even sure how that happened! And guess what? I was *still* running!
|I actually look like a runner!|
|I should really remember to shave before I take these photos...|
|Cat, you are no match for me today!|
|well helllllllo, handsome! lucky capturing you in my shot!|
|pretty good self portrait!|
I made it to the starting point again! This was now Mile 11! And I was *still* running! I'm not sure I ever ran 11 miles straight!!! Another huge victory!! (Note: I had planned to run a 4 mile loop but I don't know if I missed a turn or what because I had just run 5 miles. And I didn't have time to figure it out I just had to figure out how to finish my intended 14 miles...)
|Next time I see this I will be DONE!|
Now, at this point, I had 3 miles left to complete my 14. But because of how the course was set up, I had to figure out how I was going to do that. My options were 1) do another loop so I could finish at 102nd St, but that would be another 5 miles putting me at a total of 16. 2) Continue straight on the course for 3 miles, stopping at Mile 14, but that would put me on another side of the park and I'd have to walk or run back to get to my bag & bike. So I came up with a different plan -- Melanie had told me to run 14 *OR* 15 if I felt good. Despite slowing down a little, I still felt really good. So I decided to do 15 by running from Mile 11 to 13, then turning around and running back to Mile 11. That would be 4 additional miles, making my total 15 (I couldn't do this method for 14 because I'd have no way of knowing where Mile 12.5 was to turn around, since they half miles weren't marked. That's why I couldn't do 11 + 3)
I ran past the baggage area and the volunteers applauded for me. When I had checked my bag earlier I told them that today would be my longest run so far in my life and that it was a birthday present to myself. I also told them I'd be 41 tomorrow and this was (obviously, since I had never run 15 miles) my first marathon. One of them told me her first was at age 40. Good to know I'm not the only late bloomer!
|Thanks for volunteering & cheering me on ladies!|
|that's my average half marathon time!|
|I straddled the line between oncoming runners and oncoming cyclists|
|This is history right here|
When I finally saw the turn back into 102nd St, that's when I started crying. And sprinting!
I ran past the baggage ladies and even saw a North Brooklyn Runner member who gave me a high 5. So many runners - total strangers - saw me and were saying "great job!" or "looking good". I was beaming from ear to ear smiling as I made my way back to the start, back to Mile 11, which was now Mile 15 for me, my finish line!
I took this photo, my unofficial finish line (below), stopped my heart rate monitor and just stood there and cried for a few minutes. I was in awe of what I had just done. I had run the furthest I had ever run in my life, and even more amazing to myself - I did it without stopping.
|I did it! I ran 15 Miles!!!!|
|I cried so much the tears were hanging off my chin. I can't believe you don't see any tears here|
|Me & Dad|
|waiting for a light|
|Headed for the 59th St Bridge again...|
Here are my heart rate stats:
Bike ride to Central Park (7 miles):
40 minutes total
30 minutes in fitness zone
127 average heart rate
149 high heart rate
240 calories burned
Marathon Training Run in Central Park (15 miles):
182 minutes total
182 minutes in fitness zone
159 average heart rate
179 high heart rate
1808 calories burned
Bike ride to see Dad and then home (9 miles):
56 minutes total
54 minutes in fitness zone
130 average heart rate
154 high heart rate
361 calories burned
What a memorable and amazing way to spend my last day as a 40 year old. And what an incredible gift I gave to myself :)