The Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon is only 4 days away, and after setting a goal to run just twice this week (to continue to rest my injured leg), I’ve begun to transfer all of my energy to thinking about this much-anticipated yet, due to this past mishap, highly stressful race.
But first, before I’d let myself mull over Sunday’s event, I’d focus on Tuesday’s run 1:2.
After taking a day to do nothing but sit on the couch on Sunday and spending Monday strength training and yoga-ing, I was certainly eager to gear up and get out come Tuesday morning. The fact that, for the first time since April, the temperature was a cool 55-degrees didn’t hurt either. The air conditioner may still be on in my apartment, but outside my windows, fall is definitely in the air.
The plan was to run 3 miles and soak in some of my favorite East Side locales, because, simply enough, who doesn’t love spending a few moments on a river before getting the day started?
Clad in a long sleeved shirt for the first time this fall, I set out toward the East River for a short 1.5-mile run up to the 59th Street outlook. Typically, I’d put down my headphones and keys on the small outlet near the water on 59th and Sutton, but as I ran up toward my old stomping grounds and observed a man peeing in the bushes (a runner, not a homeless man at that), I decided to do my plyometric exercises at the 57th Street micro-park instead.
There’s something about those first few fall runs that makes you fall in love with the often monotonous sport all over again — like pushing a metaphorical “reset” button. Many of the frustrations that had been bogging me down over the last month or so seemed to vanish into the crisp air around me, even if only for a moment, enabling me to enjoy the feeling of breathlessness, strength and life once again.
At the park, I placed my belongings along the water’s edge and used the gate separating me, the East River and the majestically industrial Queensboro Bridge as though it were a ballet barre, strengthen my legs and glutes by performing many of the same movements taught during a Core Fusion, Physique 57 or Figure 4-style class. The only difference: I hardly know what I’m doing and have no formal training. But I wasn’t there to find perfection. On Tuesday, I was merely there to move.
After 15 minutes of lifting, pulsing and squeezing, and a satisfactory 1:30 plank (there’s only so much my arms can take when pressing into pebbly pavement), I returned to the streets of Manhattan and headed back toward my apartment.
It was at that moment, during that 15-minute run home surrounded by New York’s finest structures, that I found peace in the last couple of months.
Despite the fact that I haven’t run 5 miles on a weekday in longer than I can remember, I nevertheless know that I’ve managed to maintain a level of physical fitness that I could only have dreamed of last August when at the starting line of my first race. 13.1 miles, according to Runner’s World, may be far more common than marathon distance, but if you think you can go out and do it tomorrow without any form of preparation (at least, without risking injury), well, all I can say is good luck.
It’s amazing what a New York City moment — what running past something so dwarfing and awe-aspiring at once — can do for the ego and the soul. As I drew closer to my apartment, passing the path that runs along the UN and all the smaller buildings that boarder it, I came to a potential resolution.
This weekend, I’m off to Philly for what I’ve decided will be my last half marathon for a while. This time frame is yet to be determined, and most likely never really will. When my gut says it’s fine to return, then you can bet I’ll be back at the starting line again, sifting through the sign-up forms of a number of must-try races I’ve outlined in my mind. To be honest though, each time I sign up for a long(er) distance race — and there have been 4 since last August — I get injured; each time I get injured, you get to read about it for far longer than I imagine you’d like.
Over the last 2 months, in the absence of frequent runs, I’ve really learned to soak in the joy of the few that I get, no matter how brief they are. After Philly, I’ll be able to truly give my leg time to rest, and then afterward, I’d love nothing more than to return to running daily in the city I love most — even if it means cutting the longer ones in the interim.
- How many days a week do you run?
- Would you rather run longer distances fewer times a week, or the other way around?
- What will you dedicate your runs to this week?