Sunday, March 2, 2008

St. Louis Marathon Long Training Run

Today I ran around everything you see here (post-Towers), this time covering a lot more ground. Thursday will be the one-month mark until the St. Louis Marathon, my second 26.2 and one I am determined to win.

(Not really, but you know me.)

This run totaled about 15-16 miles, I don't really know. It felt like 25 degrees when I started, with 16mph winds, and it would get up to feel like about 30. I ran for four hours. I wore tights, running shorts over those, and three layers of longsleeve technical shirts, knit cap, sunglasses to block the wind as well as the sun, and of course my clear Breathe-Right Strip.

Once again, I started out by running West from my Upper West Side brownstone (see Central Park at the top, I'm just to left), over to West End avenue and turning South. Then I turned right on 42nd Street, and once I got to the Hudson River highway I hung a left and proceeded South along the running/bike path that takes you all the way down to Battery Park, as far as you can go in Manhattan.

It is really cool to run past Chelsea Piers. I found a deli close by where I could run in and grab a Gatorade. I took two Powergels with me today, and two packets of salt. Today as I got near Ground Zero, I was not attacked by a deranged homeless drifter. That is what happened to me last Saturday. That day, this guy waited for me to pull up even with him and then stuck out his arm and tried to clothesline me, with an evil Charles Manson glare; I believe he was having a Vietnam flashback. It was really freaky, something that stayed with me all week. If he had a weapon I would have needed my taekwondo senses immediately, which I used anyway, blocking his arm outside-in and then continuing to run. I honestly was very close to wanting to kill him, because it was a dangerous thing to do, whether you are a deranged homeless drifter or a normal person. I shouted to him "Dude, don't ever do that, you could totally die." I know I should have just thrown him money or ignored him but when someone tries to clothesline you as you are FIVE MILES INTO A TRAINING RUN your first instinct is to want to make sure the person knows you considered killing him.

But today, fortunately, he was not there. I ran on to Battery Park without adventure. Then I proceeded along the south coast of the island, past the Staten Island Ferry, past the American Indian Museum (not the politically correct "Native American" by the way...I am a native American, and so I never liked that PC term), and to the South Street Seaport. This was my first time there.

In that general vicinity, I snagged a bottle of Poland Springs from a street vendor. I downed several swigs, and then saw a homeless guy sitting there just shivering. I really wanted to do more for this guy. I think it was not so much the cold as his body was convulsing. I went over and gave him the still mostly full bottle of water. I mean, there aren't water fountains anywhere.

I bailed off to go into Pier C to get a bottled water. Benazir Bhutto once told the NY Times that she always liked to go to the SS Seaport, and that is why I have always wanted to go there. It was INCREDIBLE. I can't wait to go back when it warms up; they have a raw bar, just a beautifully scenic part of Manhattan I'd not seen. There was an Internet cafe, and I handed over a few bucks to get an Internet connection so I could email someone where I was.

I stretched and resumed running, proceeding on up North along the FDR, bordering the East River (which stinks), and here's where my long training run was really good. There is a park not far from the Williamsburg Bridge that contains a quarter-mile tartan-surface running track, with a pristine, perfect grass soccer field inside it. So I ran a mile and a half there, 400 uptempo x 400 conversational, and after I was done running, I plopped onto the verdant, dry, perfect grass and proceeded to stretch and do crunches. Then I did planks. Then I did side-pushups. It was nice to get a FULL workout on this day.

I returned to the path running up alongside the FDR and there was a running path almost the entire way. ALMOST. That is when I ran into some danger. This was more dangerous than the Deranged Homeless Psycho Drifter. There was a fence up ahead, and I should have bailed at the 34th Street Tunnel -- or around the NYU Hospital. That area. Instead, I kept going past a little opening in the fence, determined that there must be a running path somewhere. Because to this point, ALL OF MANHATTAN had ample running room along the rivers or harbor.

Then I found myself in No Man's Land, with fast-speeding traffic right next to me, crazy New York City cabbies, and I am running along a 1 1/2-foot wide elevated curb. I am just hoping that no cars clip me from behind. On my right, at one point I looked down and there was car paint -- where bumpers had veered into the curb that keeps cars from falling into the East River. That river was immediately to my right, so I had about a foot and a half of LIFE PROTECTION between insane drivers to my left and the East River to my right. I was playing the odds and don't plan to ever do this again.

I ran like that for about a quarter-mile, concentrating like I have never concentrated before. Finally, after the United Nations building, there was a 6-foot iron fence on my right, and I scaled it, and then dropped down into this little park setting. I walked to my right to find the stairs that went up and over the FDR Expressway, onto 51st Street and over to First Avenue. I was alive.

Then I ran to Central Park. At Columbus Circle, I hailed a taxi because my left Achilles tendon was starting to hurt again. I had pushed through with it for a while but it's just training and I had to use common sense a little bit. I got home, and immediately got into a hot bath, cranking Classic Rock on the TV. I know, it should be an ice bath. I will save that for the marathon. Then I iced my Achilles and took some Advil.

It was a GREAT run today. I especially liked the track park. Do you know what was REALLY great? While I was walking away from that track, there were about eight squirrels running around, and all of a sudden, they were all stopped, just staring at me. They came a little bit closer. For that one fleeting moment, I felt like Bambi or something. These squirrels thought I was some kind of God of the Squirrels. "Look, it's a new person!"

I would rather squirrels come after me than Deranged Homeless Psycho Charles Manson Vietnam-Flashback Drifters.

This is my city. This is my blog. This is my St. Louis Marathon Long Training Run.

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