Sunday, August 26, 2007

Inaugural Long Run: From Gardens 2 Flowers...(21 Miles Long!)

Course: From Gardens To Flowers... Towns: Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Flushing,
Bayside, University Gardens, Russell Gardens,
Thomaston, Manhasset, Manhasset Hills,
Flower Hill
Distance: 21 Miles
Date: Sunday, August 11, 2007
Time: 10:40 AM - 2:30 PM (includes shower at LA Fitness)
Weather: 82%, 70% Humidity,
Overcast, Hot, Humid, Breezy
Course Path: (see map, left)
Elevations: (see graph, left)

I was not feeling too hot last night, plus I had not slept too well. I was due to do a really long run today, and the temperature was going to be about 80+ with about 80+ humidity.

Somehow, I found the courage to do my long run anyway. 21 miles long. Whoo Wee!!
Starting from my friendly confines, I headed north across Queens Blvd, staying on Hoover Avenue until I made a left on Main St., followed by a right on Union, followed by another left on 164th Street. The first portion of my run was relatively comatose, I didn't drink, didn't need to drink, and I was still feeling like I wasn't even running yet.

Packed with me was my wrist runner. Inside were 23 dollars, my LA Fitness key chain plastique, and my laminated (so that the sweat wouldnt destroy it) directions and elevations.
I took my first swig of water from my fuel belt while on Utopia. This was an area that I had not trained in since I was 18. The area was not that recognizable until I madea right onto 48th Ave and then another left up 189th street.

When I got to the corner of 47th & 189th, I now knew exactly were I was and remembered of the times I ran past there during my training in my first life...

I made a right on 45th avenue as this would take me right into Northern Boulevard, on the way I past St. Kevin's Church & Elementary School. I could see and hear the roar of the cars. Northern Boulevard was just ahead.

Crossing the boulevard is a challenge to say the least, but I was getting lucky today hit the green lights at the right moments. It was there where I met this older man who was running down Northern Blvd. as well.

His name was Jerry, and he asked if it would be alright to keep me company and run alongside me. He seemed decent enough, plus it would be nice to put the iPod away, and actually talk to another human being.

His addition was a welcomed one. We traded stories about our life, our family life, and our running life. Poor man, he had lost most of his teeth, when he was hit by a car while he was running some 20 years ago. Since then, he runs against traffic (like me) and looks behind him for the occasional cyclist too. He is 60 years old and he told me that he's been running since 1958. God Bless Him!
He would run with me up until E.Shore Rd before turning around. By then, we had attacked some massive hills. The water was just not cutting it and I needed some electrolytes. So, in between where we met, and where he left, we stopped for a moment, so that I could jump into a Subway shop to get a powerade.
When I waved good bye to him, and continued onward, my watch was close to 11 miles. I had synchronized my watch the other day on the oval track, therefore, I had done more mileage than what the Google maps had me at. Another dreaded hill up ahead. It's one thing to see the graph, but it's another to see it in person. Jerry had mentioned that the elite runners push the upper body forward, as if they were going to fall, and just move forward with their feet to get up hills. It actually worked pretty well, so I followed that pattern for the rest of the way.

As I saw Lord & Taylor up ahead, I already knew I was in Manhasset. I made a left at Onderdonk Ave. next to the local public library and entered the quiet, private residence of Manhasset Hills. I remembered cycling through here before, and no doubt remembered the massive hill on Park Avenue that started shortly after making a right turn onto it. I was now in Munsey Park.

I thought this hill would never end. Nothing like having a vertical challenge at around your 12-13 mile mark. The top of the hill ended with a left at Manhasset Woods Road. Now I was surrounded by nothing other than multi-million dollar homes and estates. Not in my lifetime. Unless I hit the Mega on Tuesday.

I jogged through this affluent area as if I lived here. It felt good. I made a right on Elderfields Road and the houses here were even better. I had just entered the Flower Hill section of Port Washington, and just found myself my new dream house ; 220 Elderfields Road. If I ever came into a fortune, that would be the house to get.

Seeing all these beautiful properties were a nice visual diversion to the fact that I had already finished a half-marathon.
It was a left on Crabapple Road, followed by a right on Bonnie Heights Road. More money, more money. Crossed Port Washington Boulevard and went up Country Club Drive (obviously the name of a street you see in New York City) and head up a short hill, making another right on Hewlett Lane. More beautiful houses. Does this ever end?

It does and it did. I was past the half-way point for sure, and was making my way back to LA Fitness where I would be met by my girlfriend who would be waiting patiently for me with my two kids. We had worked this plan out where she would go to the gym, and have the kids watched at the day care facility over there while she worked out. Also, I had left a few hours earlier this morning, so it wouldn't be too long over there.
But it was. My legs, my mechanics were really talking to me now. I was next to nil on water, and knew that the route I had pathed back to the gym would be dangerous since there were no stores for another couple of miles. I needed liquid and nourishment now. Faced with the option of taking the chance and going liquid less for 2 miles or extending another mile to my 20 mile run, I opted to extend. Lack of hydration, as it has been drilled into my head, seems to be the root cause of many ailments for runners, and lead to injury.

I stopped at the Whole Foods Market. Brought an organic white peach (yummy), and a seedless orange grown in Africa (who knows? perhaps I can start running sub-5 minute miles now), plus a XXX Vitamin Water. I also brought a smart water and reloaded all 4 of my Fuel Belt bottles. All told, it delayed me by about 10 minutes, but looking back, I am glad I did this or I might be far worse off now.

The diversion put me on Northern Boulevard and Searington Road. I ran all the way down Northern, and realized that by doing this that I did not get to enjoy running back down hill on Park Avenue. Bummer.

Some time later, I passed Macys on my left and knew I had a killer hill ahead of me. I was already at the 17 mile mark yet incredibly, no foot spasms yet. I was actually grateful that there was no rain. The sun had threatened to peek through a few times, but thankfully it never did. I don't know about other runners, but unless it's less than 60 degrees outside, I don't fancy running with the bright hot rays of the sun.
Lakeville Road dead ahead. At this point I had already run a little over 18 miles. I am still going strong but realize that it is already 1:38pm, 8 minutes after my expected arrival at LA Fitness. I saw a diner at the corner, and stopped in to place a call to Ileana. In the meantime, an elderly woman, who had walked into the foyer of the diner, looked like she was going to pass out. Apparently, she didn't take too kindly to a man who had just sweated for the last 3 hours plus.

I ran down Lakeville Road, and tried to run a little bit faster but not too fast. Their was a trail on the left hand side of the shoulder-less road, but it was just as treacherous like the road itself, and was completely unkept. Still, I was in the home stretch and when I saw signs for the Long Island Expressway, I was actually getting emotional thinking what I was about to accomplish.

Northern State Parkway signs came into view. I was less than a mile away now! Just like the scene in Forest Gump, where Forest shakes off the metal crutches from his legs, and his running exuberantly without any worries in the world, I was now in the zone. I ran to LA Fitness, and was so elated, but yet so tired. Ileana, and the children were in the car. I felt guilty that they were waiting for me, but they all understood the importance of this run. I walked around the car for about 5 minutes to make sure that most of my blood has recirculated from my legs and back to my heart. I then went into the gym to take a shower. I felt like collapsing on the floor near the lockers. Some guy who had the build of an early day Arnold Schwarzenegger asked me if I was okay. I told him yes, and told him why I looked so tired. He reacted incredibly dumbfounded as if he never heard of anyone running that long. For some sick, and twisted reason, that made me feel great. Afterwards, I made sure to take a shower in cold, but not frigid waters. It felt so damn good. Massaging my own feet helped a lot too.

I've done 5 marathons already but today was a very special day for me. I am still trying to comprehend what I have accomplished. I am not going to run tomorrow, and perhaps not even Tuesday, but I will definitely cut back on the mileage, making sure that my long run next weekend is far less than this on (alternate weekends).

Most important will be how I feel in the next few days. I don't like to add more than 1-2 miles to a long run, so I realized I pushed this one far beyond the brink. I am feeling exhausted but good now, but the next 3 days will be telling. Hopefully, I got away with a big one!

Here were my times:
Mile 01 - 10:08.2
Mile 02 - 09:22.0
Mile 03 - 09:32.0
Mile 04 - 09:41.5
Mile 05 - 09:56.8
Mile 06 - 09:22.0
Mile 07 - 09:30.0
Mile 08 - 09:18.0
Mile 09 - 09:40.2
Mile 10 - 09:00.5
Mile 11 - 07:59.3 (nothing like going downhill!)
Mile 12 - 08:47.4
Mile 13 - 10:24.0
Mile 14 - 09:01.6
Mile 15 - 08:55.3
Mile 16 - 09:03.9
Mile 17 - 08:26.0
Mile 18 - 09:27.7
Mile 19 - 08:50.1 (wow)
Mile 20 - 08:33.8 (okay, now I am really scaring myself)
Mile 21 - 08:43.3 (if i can do this on Marathon Sunday....please oh please!!!)

The plus one is the mile of walking both after the run, and when I had stopped my watch to walk in/out of a store.

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