On Saturday, I planned to run 9 miles with my cousin in preparation for next week’s race in Philly. Whereas I’d typically never intentionally run such a long route just 1 week before a half marathon, I also knew that I needed to get that distance — those 9 miles — under my belt. Running 13.1 miles without first building up to that point could have been equally detrimental as overdoing it beforehand; either way, I knew I’d be walking a fine line.
Getting back to this distance has been a journey in itself. What started as only running a half-mile at a time (to test my ailing leg) turned into 1, 2 and 3 milers. Only weeks ago, I was jumping for joy over having run my first 5-mile route in far too long. The week after, I completed 7.
I’ve been tremendously conscious of giving my body ample time to rest before and after these longer runs. After that first 7-miler, I took 4 days off to party in Miami. My 9 — wait for it — turned 10 3/4-mile run (!) on Saturday would be no different. This week, as difficult as is for me to say and actually execute it, I’ll run just twice.
Fortunately, Saturday’s run was certainly one for the books.
I woke up nice and early to a text from my cousin, whom I’ll be running the Philly Rock ‘n’ Roll race with. She was up — earlier than I was, for once — and ready to run. (Maybe those last 3 glasses of wine the night before weren’t such a brilliant idea after all.)
There was no time to lament my poor drinking decisions though; it was already 8:30, and if we wanted to finish our run anytime before noon, I’d have to open my eyes and begin my pre-long run routine.
After fumbling with my contacts and realizing that I somehow managed to lose one in my sleep, I finally made my way into the kitchen to prepare some pre-run sustenance. Eating before a run can be incredibly difficult when you’ve had dinner at 10pm the night before followed by too many drinks and some late night hummus and carrots (reason #2390051935 why it is a bad idea to go out when you’ve planned a long run for the next day). From the moment I woke up, it felt like there was literally a 5-course meal sitting in my stomach, but I nevertheless managed to stuff in some peanut butter and jelly crackers and some yogurt with fresh figs…
…and finish a 3-minute plank.
With that, I was ready to head out.
As I grabbed my phone and slipped into my new Brooks, DAM texted me. It looked like rain.
No way, I responded. My iPhone predicted clouds until 4.
[Me: Ok, so we can go whenever. I’ll leave here in like 30?]
[DAM: Yes I see a thunderstorm at 10 — but you’re the running expert so who am I to fight that?]
I left my apartment to meet DAM at the 72nd Street entrance triangle. Sure enough, the first drops of rain began to fall at approximately 10:01.
I got to Central Park not long after a monsoon swept through New York City. I didn’t know we were doing a Tough Mudder! DAM shouted. Although the rain had let up for all of a minute, there was no getting around it; we were absolutely and completely soaked.
Obviously, the run was off to a great start, and so there was nothing left to do but begin plodding away toward the infamous Cat Hill with squishy socks and now very-clingy shirts.
Sarcasm aside, the first 4 miles of this run were absolutely incredible. The skies opened up again not long after hitting the outer Bridle Path loop, and it wouldn’t let up for the next 40 minutes. Rain pounded us from every direction, and each time it seemed to slow, Mother Nature turned up the volume and sent buckets-full of water down upon us once again. (I have no photo evidence of this since Apple doesn’t accept rain damage as a reason to replace the iPhone.)
Then finally, after a solid 40-minute outdoor shower, we noticed a hint of blue peeking through the clouds. The sun was trying to come out, and we were more than willing to welcome it with open — albeit shiny, dripping — arms.
At this point, we had run past the reservoir and cut over to the west side in order to avoid Harlem Hill. From there, we completed the rest of the park loop, doubling back over to Cat Hill and completing a lap around the reservoir to round off the run. By the time we left the park, DAM and I managed to log just about 9 miles, which, when you tack on the initial 1.75-miles to the park, adds up to a total of 10+.
While perhaps not ideal weather conditions to start, I have to admit, I haven’t had that much fun on a run in a very long time. It was refreshing and amusing all at once. I felt strong and powerful for being out there among a handful of other drenched athletes and actually appreciated, for the first time this summer, not feeling as though my body was about to overheat. Was I sweating? Maybe, but when running under a massive shower head, one can hardly tell the difference between precipitation, perspiration or pee. (I suppose you’ll have to take my word for it that I didn’t pee my pants; I just hope all the fashionable Madison Avenue shoppers believed me too as a trudged home post-run.)
Naturally, despite the fact that the run itself felt great, my leg, on the other hand, did not. When I got home, I immediately iced my knees and shins and resolved to stay off the pavement for a few days in order to preserve my physical well-being. It’s a real shame to be limited to just a couple of lonely runs during the week, but as I keep reminding myself, it’d be an even greater shame to waste all of this time I’ve invested in rehabilitating my leg by injuring it just a week before Philly.
I’m ready for the Rock ‘n’ Roll race and even more excited to return to a more regular running routine after — even if it means covering shorter distances more frequently for an extended period of time. At the end of the day, I love how these long weekend runs make me feel, but not as much as I dislike staying off my feet between them.
- What’s your favorite part about a rainy run?
- Would you rather run longer distances fewer days a week, or shorter distances every day?