well you can’t say I’m doing things halfway here. i choose my first marathon to be on a tough course, and for my first 20 miler (ever!) to be on a tough course as well. This morning was the Flyers’ annual Palisades run-an out-and-back 20-miler that starts at the GWB bus terminal, crosses the GW bridge, and on the Jersey side we’re treated to a very scenic-yet hilly-run. As Sister Smile once said “If you can do this run, you can do a marathon.” I had actually volunteered at one of the water stops at this run 2 years ago, so from the battle stories I had heard, I had an idea of what I was in for-terrain wise, so I was sorta prepared 🙂
So this morning, a way-too-early wake-up call. (This was of course, after I had carbo-loaded last night with 3 different flavors of sangria at Novo in honor of MF’s birthday. Melon, raspberry and black cherry sangria. Yum. Though considering I wasn’t even buzzed, I really question the alcohol content.) I was lucky and there was an A train within minutes (hey at that hour of the morning, you never know.) Once I got to the GWB bus terminal, there was time to kill, so just chatted with some other Flyers. (and one of said Flyers seemed a little disappointed that he has not gotten a mention on this blog in awhile. So yeah…hi, JD. I shoulda had you pace me again on those hill repeats on Tuesday!!)
Around 8-ish, we got going. I tried to start out slow…as something the run coordinator has said before stuck in my head “We suggest that you start conservatively and save some energy for those final few miles. Feeling good at the end of this long run will be a big confidence-booster for your fall marathon. Walking back across the GWB to Manhattan will not!” For the most part I ran with a friend of mine who I haven’t seen in awhile-it was great to run together and catch up a little. There were crazy hills on this course…man, I thought I was hill trained before today!! A fun moment happened inbetween the mile 5 and 9 mile stations…we heard bagpipe music playing and for a second I thought it was my teammate who’s infamous for playing them during some of the races…we got closer and it indeed was him!! What a nice surprise. Skylight was volunteering at the mile 9 water/Gatorade stop and looked to be enjoying himself a lot 🙂
After mile 9, however, came the grand puba of all hills. I remembered seeing runners trudge up that hill 2 years ago, I heard horror stories, but I guess its nothing compared to actually running it. It actually reminded me of some of the hills up in Lake Placid. Anyway, just took it slow and steady, knowing there’d be a downhill reward in my near future. Finally, we got to the top-felt like mountain climbing!! Ran back down that hill to the water station that Skylight was at one more time. Miles 12-15 seemed tougher going back the other way-I think I was a little depleted, was really looking forward to the aid station at mile 15 to grab more gel and whatever else. Well something I took in at that aid station did some good…or maybe it was because I followed the advice I was given and started off conservatively…but I flew through those last 5 miles. I wasn’t keeping time of this run, so I don’t know what the pace was, but I remember passing quite a few people in those last few miles.
There’s one part that psyches you out a little…you’re still running on the road….and you see the bridge…and you have to actually run past the bridge for a little bit-until you’re out of the park, and have one more uphill on the roads to deal with before approaching the bridge’s pedestrian path. And not only did I not have to walk across the GWB to Manhattan, but I think I probably ran across it faster than I have driven across it at times :-p Oh, to be able to feel as good at mile 20 of the marathon!!
So, 1 successful 20-miler down, 2 more to go. Next one is next week-will be pacing NYRR’s Long Training Run again. I know it’s not ideal to be doing 20s 2 weeks in a row-but I had a coupla reasons…scheduling-the following weekend is Rosh Hashanah and I know I will not be able to do a 20-miler then, weekend after that is Grete’s. Plus, I’d like to do my 20s with as much support as possible. I think as long as I swap speedwork for an easy run this week, and just take it easy in general with the pace, that I will be fine.
And thanks again to everyone who made today’s run happen. You guys were great.